summer reading

Summer Vision Screening: When a Bright Child Struggles in School Summer is the Season to Discover Why

As your child wraps up another school year, now may be a good time to reassess his or her progress and struggles. You might be asking yourself some of the following questions and wondering what you can do to help set your child up for success as a student:

  • Did my child advance this year or seem to fall behind?
  • Is my child reading on-level, or still having difficulty keeping up with classmates?
  • Did my child’s behavior disrupt his learning environment this year?
  • Does social awkwardness or clumsiness seem to be interfering with my child’s happiness or self-esteem?

If you are concerned about your child’s performance in school, or perhaps in social interactions and sports, summer is the season to focus on getting to the root of your child’s difficulties and finding the best available help.

If you and your child are dreading making your way through the summer reading list, it may be time to figure out why what could be an enjoyable activity has become such a chore.

When a child struggles in school, summer can be a welcome break from suffering through long days in the classroom and tackling difficult homework assignments in the evenings. Without the daily stress of school, summer can also be the best time to schedule assessments for learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, perceptual deficiencies that could be interfering with learning, and start treatment.

What you may not have considered is that one possible culprit behind your child’s struggles could be a vision problem. Learning-related vision problems are often over-looked because symptoms sometimes mimic or appear similar to learning disabilities, dyslexia, or attention deficit disorder.

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Children with vision problems that interfere with learning are often found to have “20/20” eyesight when they undergo typical vision screenings at school or with the family eye doctor, so parents and teachers may not suspect a problem with vision. A more thorough functional vision exam is needed to uncover visual processing deficiencies.

When a child’s vision system does not work efficiently, visual skills deficiencies can contribute to learning problems. For the learning process to work as it should, your child must first be able to see, then use what he sees to understand. The ability to see letters on a chart for an eye exam is not enough — 20/20 is just the beginning.

Symptoms of vision problems include, but are not limited to:

  • Squinting while reading near or far
  • Rubbing red, irritated, or watering eyes
  • Rubbing temple or forehead and complaining of headaches
  • Complaints of dizziness or motion sickness
  • Skipping words or losing place while reading
  • Confusing similar words
  • Reversing letters
  • Being easily distracted, inattentive, unable to stay on task
  • Disruptive behavior, especially after expressing frustration with work
  • Poor hand-eye coordination, depth perception, or awkwardness and clumsiness
  • Performing noticeably better on oral vs. written demonstrations of learning

If you or your child’s teacher have noticed any of these symptoms, take your child to an optometrist that specializes in developmental and functional care for an in-depth vision screening this summer. If your child is found to have a problem with eye focusing, eye teaming, eye tracking, or visual processing, you could be one step closer to having answers you need to improving your child’s performance in school and self-esteem.

The good news is, with an individualized vision therapy program, significant progress can be made within a relatively short period of time, even in time for next school year.

If you live in or near Olney, MD, contact Dr. Philip Nicholson, O.D. and his staff at the Visual Learning Center. Call 301-570-4611 for a comprehensive assessment and to see if your child might significantly benefit from vision therapy this summer.

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