Tag Archives: learning-related vision problems

accommodative dysfunction

Accommodative Dysfunction: An Often Overlooked Vision Problem That Makes Classroom Learning Difficult

The Visual Learning Center offers 
developmental optometry & vision therapy
near Silver Spring, MD in Olney.

Accommodative dysfunction is an often-overlooked functional vision problem that makes classroom learning difficult and interferes with performance in school. When parents contact us at the Visual Learning Center, they often wonder how their child could have a vision problem that interferes with learning when their family eye doctor or school vision screening did not detect anything wrong with the child’s eyesight.

We understand that, as a parent, you rely on professionals to diagnose problems and advise you on the best course of action to help your child. But the eye doctor who examined your child is probably not trained in developmental optometry, functional vision care, or vision therapy. Their job is primarily to check for eye health and prescribe eyeglasses as needed.

The visual system is complex and routine vision screenings do not mimic the classroom environment. To do their assignments and follow lessons in a classroom setting, students must sustain visual focus over extended periods of time and shift focus from one place to another throughout the day.

If your child sees the board clearly and sees the paper on their desk clearly, they may pass a typical screening with 20/20 eyesight. But everyday classroom tasks require vision skills beyond a quick glance at an eye chart. In order to complete their schoolwork, a child has to maintain focus on their books or papers long enough to read paragraphs and pages of text. And while in the classroom, students have to focus on the board long enough to follow the lesson and look back and forth between the board and their paper to copy notes.

Weak accommodative facility refers to difficulty with visual focus. In normal healthy vision, a child can sustain visual focus for an extended period and shift focus as needed from near to far and back to near again. If our visual system is functioning as it should, we don’t even think about maintaining focus or focusing our eyes as we move them. Focusing happens automatically and almost instantaneously without much effort.

But what happens automatically for most of us takes strained effort in someone with accommodative dysfunction. The “focusing” (ciliary) muscle must expand and contract efficiently to change the shape or curvature of the lense as needed to see clearly. 

If your child is struggling with accommodative facility, the focus mechanism in their visual system is either not fully developed or has been weakened. While reading, their eyes may lose focus over time, causing the text to become blurry. If so, they will have to strain to regain focus again and again, leading to fatigue and frustration. While copying from the board or from a book to a page, the focus adjustment period is slower than normal, which is also frustrating.

Signs or symptoms of accommodative dysfunction include:

  • Complaining of blurred or fuzzy vision, especially towards the end of the day
  • Rubbing, squinting eyes, or closing eyes while reading
  • Missing more questions at the end of a test
  • Copying from the board slowly or with lots of mistakes
  • Poor attention span, fidgeting, and behaviors often mistaken for ADD/ADHD
  • Bending close or bobbing and tilting head while reading
  • Headaches or aching eyes
  • Avoiding reading or near work, especially with small print

Simple tasks that come easily to their classmates are challenging and tiring for students with accommodative dysfunction. They may work slowly and become discouraged with their pace and progress in comparison to their peers.   

If you suspect your child might have trouble with visual focusing, schedule a functional vision exam with an optometrist trained in developmental vision care right away. If diagnosed, vision therapy treatment can result in significant improvement in a relatively short period of time.

If your family is located in Olney or Silver Spring, Maryland, contact the Visual Learning Center today to schedule a functional vision exam with our developmental optometrist, Dr. Philip Nicholson.

Register for an upcoming webinar here.

child with visual memory problem

Visual Memory Problems in Children Can Interfere With Learning

The Visual Learning Center offers
developmental optometry & vision therapy
in Olney, Maryland near Silver Spring.

Visual memory is the ability to look at an object, create a mental image for that object, and hold that picture in your mind for later recall and use. If your visual processing system is functioning as it should, this process happens automatically and without extra effort. However, some people have a visual processing disorder or deficiency that affects their visual memory and can interfere with their ability to read and learn.

Eighty percent of what we learn is visual; so being able to visually picture and remember what we see is a necessary skill.

Click here for 9 Signs Your Child May Have an Undiagnosed Vision Problem

When a child learns to read, they are taught to look at a word, recognize letters and individual strings of letters as words, and then create mental images for the letters and words — each with its own unique shape to which they assign sounds and associate meaning. Then they hold those images in their mind to recall and retrieve for later use. This process happens continuously as a child learns.

When we read, we put words and phrases together with visual images to conceptualize meaning. Once the visual information is taken in through the eyes, the process of comprehension has only just begun. Next, the brain runs the information through the process of visual perception to extract the information and use it.

If we can see pictures in our mind and form a clear mental image of what’s taking place in the text as we’re reading, it enables us to instantaneously recognize words, imagine a sequence visually, and then comprehend it all.

Imagine how difficult it would be for a child to learn and understand if they lacked the ability to store and recall mental images efficiently. If a child has difficulty processing and storing visual information in their short-term memory, they will have to learn the same information repeatedly and they will progress slowly.

For example, if a child was not able to properly input and store the mental image of his spelling words, that child will struggle to recall the correct string of letters to spell it correctly on a quiz. If a child studies for a test and seems to be prepared the night before, they may not be able to recall the information and recognize the answers at test time.

Signs that your child may have a visual memory problem include:

  • Studying for a test, seeming prepared the night before, and performing much lower than expected.
  • Learning a new word and not recognizing the word a short while later.
  • Difficulty remembering their own phone number or address.
  • Trouble recalling details in a story or the order of events.
  • Struggling to use a keyboard or calculator. Kids these days are whizzes at typing and texting, but your child slowly hunts for each letter, number, and character.
  • Reversing letters, such as b and d or p and q, because they may recall the shape but not the correct laterality or directionality.

A student with a healthy visual memory function has the ability to learn and recall a new word after being exposed to that word only one time or a few times. However, if a student has a visual memory disorder they may need to see the word many times repeatedly before they can possibly retain it.

This does not mean the child is less intelligent than their peers. It simply means they are lacking in the ability to create and retain a mental image. It is a skills deficiency that can be improved significantly with vision therapy.

A typical routine eye exam will not detect a deficiency in visual memory. So if you suspect that your child has a visual memory problem, schedule a comprehensive vision exam with a developmental optometrist who specializes in functional vision care and vision therapy.

Without training in visual memory skills, the child will continue to have difficulty learning. The good news is, with an individualized vision therapy program visual memory skills can be improved. By undergoing vision therapy, the child will complete activities that are created to enhance their memory and develop their ability to recall the visual information they take in more readily.

Click here for vision therapy success stories.

For a comprehensive vision exam and vision therapy in Olney or Silver Spring, Maryland, contact Dr, Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center to schedule an appointment today.
Register for an upcoming webinar here.

daughter struggling with reading

7 Reasons Children With Undiagnosed Vision Problems Struggle to Read

The Visual Learning Center offers 
developmental optometry & vision therapy
in Olney, Maryland,  convenient to Silver Spring.

Is your child struggling to read, and you don’t know why? One of the most frequent complaints by parents who visit the Visual Learning Center is that their child is having difficulty reading or reading below grade level.

This can be particularly disheartening for parents who love to read or remember fondly curling up with a good book as a child. You may have even noticed that your child seemed to read easily in Kindergarten, but then fell behind as time went on.

You sense something is wrong, but assessments and interventions for learning disabilities, dyslexia, or attention deficit disorders haven’t helped.

One commonly overlooked type of condition that might be interfering with your child’s ability to read could be a learning-related functional vision problem, even with “20/20” eyesight. An undiagnosed vision disorder or deficiency can make reading incredibly difficult.

To learn more how vision can affect learning, download our free guidehere and watch our pre-recorded webinar here.

When parents first learn that their child may potentially have a learning-related vision problem that’s interfering with their ability to read well, they usually wonder why the school’s vision screening or family eye doctor didn’t detect a problem.

The problem is routine vision screenings typically only test for the child’s ability to see clearly at a distance for a few moments. Reading requires intense and sustained focusing of the eyes for a prolonged period time, moving the eyes smoothly along lines of text, and processing of the information through the entire visual system for comprehension.

Here are 7 Reasons Children With Undiagnosed Vision Problems Struggle to Read (even with 20/20 eyesight):

They lose their place when reading.

To read, the eye jumps across the text and fixates on certain points; with each fixation, the child takes in either a whole word or part of a word while the eye is momentarily stationary. If your child has trouble with eye tracking, they will often lose their place in the text, making reading difficult.

They see letters in reverse.

Many parents assume letter reversals are always a sign of dyslexia. Letter reversals are also a common symptom of vision problems, such as eye movement disorders and visual processing deficiencies, which can make reading challenging.

Their eyes are not moving together as a team.

The ability to move, turn, and point the eyes together at the same time is called eye teaming or binocular vision skills. If a child’s eyes are not working together as a team, they may be experiencing double vision or blurry vision, which makes reading tiring.

Their eyes and brain do not work together efficiently.

Vision includes a lot more than eyesight. Vision is comprised of three main components — reception, processing, and output; and each of these main components of vision is complex. If any aspect of the complex vision system is not functioning in a normal and healthy way, this can interfere with the ability to read.

Their eyes do not stay focused.

Children with accommodative dysfunction, or trouble focusing, have difficulty maintaining a clear image for a reasonable length of time. Reading is challenging because the text grows fuzzy or blurred, and they have to strain to stay focused.

They quickly forget what they just learned or read.

Visual memory is the ability to look at something, create a mental image for that thing, and hold that picture in your mind for later recall and use. To read, a child must look at a word, recognize and recall individual letters and strings of letters, create a mental image for that word and associate it with a meaning, and hold that word picture in mind to see and retrieve later. If a child has a visual memory deficiency, the process is a struggle and it affects their ability to read.

They’re frustrated and tired.

Children with vision problems are constantly overcompensating for their deficiencies and straining, so resulting  irritability and physical symptoms are common. For this reason, the child may seem restless or “act out” with disruptive behavior. They may experience headaches or exhaustion after reading or complain that their eyes hurt, feel tired, or that their eyes are excessively dry or watery.

To detect a learning-related vision problem, your child must undergo a thorough functional vision exam by an optometrist trained in developmental vision care.

Once diagnosed, the good news is, an individualized vision therapy program can result in significant improvement in a relatively short period of time.

If your family is located in the Olney or Silver Spring, Montgomery County, Maryland area, contact Dr. Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center today to schedule an appointment.

What Appears to be a Learning Disability Could Be Cured With Vision Therapy

Learning disabilities and vision disorders or visual deficiencies share common signs, symptoms and behaviors. While a learning disability cannot be cured or fixed, common vision problems in children that are often mistaken for learning disabilities, can be successfully treated and cured with vision therapy.

Having 20/20 eyesight does not rule out vision problems that interfere with learning. Watch this video to learn more about the relationship between vision and learning.

A learning disability is a neurological disorder that indicates a person’s brain is “wired” differently. Children with learning disabilities are no less intelligent than their classmates, but they may have difficulty learning through conventional teaching methods. A child with a learning disability may struggle with reading, writing, math, organizing information, memory, or with reasoning skills.

Examples of learning disabilities include auditory processing disorders (difficulty understanding spoken language), dysgraphia (difficulty with writing), dyslexia (difficulty understanding written language), dyscalculia (difficulty with math problems and concepts), and nonverbal disabilities (difficulty with spatial and facial cues).

Each type of learning disability presents unique challenges; and if the disability is identified early enough, children can be taught using different approaches and taught specific skills to cope and even thrive.

Learning-related vision problems may present almost identically to some learning disorders that can be significantly improved or even eliminated permanently with vision therapy.

Both a child with a learning disability and a child with a vision deficiency may reverse, transpose, invert, or mix up letters or words when reading and writing.

Both a child with a learning disability and a child with a vision deficiency may appear restless, fidgety, or distracted in a classroom setting or while doing homework.

Both a child with a learning disability and a child with a vision deficiency may have poor coordination or fine motor skills.

Both a child with a learning disability and a child with a vision deficiency may struggle with reading, writing, spelling, comprehension, and memory.

Both a child with a learning disability and a child with a vision deficiency may perform below grade level on standardized tests or perform more poorly than expected on exams.

Both a child with a learning disability and a child with a vision deficiency may be exceptionally bright or gifted but also struggle in school.

If you or child’s teacher suspect a learning disability, you’ll want to rule out a treatable vision problem. Your child might not need to learn differently. Instead, your child may need to undergo a treatment program to train and reinforce vision skills, with lasting results.

The only way to rule out a vision problem is with a comprehensive vision exam by a developmental optometrist who specializes in functional vision care.

For functional exam and vision therapy in Olney, Maryland or Silver Spring, schedule an appointment with Dr. Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center.

Register for an upcoming webinar here.

A child that sees like this can pass a vision screening [infographic]

As a parent, you’re dedicated to ensuring your children are healthy, thriving, and have access to the best available learning opportunities. So when your child undergoes an eye exam at school or with your family eye doctor and passes with “20/20 eyesight” or a prescription for corrective lenses, you’re probably confident that his or her vision is fine.

As far as common knowledge goes, you’ve done everything necessary to make sure your child is able to see clearly enough to perform well in school. If your child continues to struggle in school, it must be due to something else, right?

Unfortunately, most eye exams do not test for functional vision problems that often interfere with learning and performance. A typical eye exam with your family optometrist or ophthalmologist generally only tests to determine if your child can see clearly at a distance for a period long enough to complete the exam. It doesn’t test for eye movement and visual processing problems that may affect your child’s ability to see, learn, and complete tasks for a sustained period of time in a learning environment.

The general exam doesn’t check into how well the eyes work together as a team, how quickly the eyes focus when moving from one visual plane to another, how smoothly the eyes move across the page when reading, how efficiently the brain processes information taken in by the eyes, or a number of other areas of functional vision.

Only a functional vision exam by an optometrist trained in developmental vision care can diagnose learning-related vision problems such as convergence insufficiency, amblyopia, strabismus, blurred vision, double vision, and more.

Children who see like the illustrations below can still pass a typical vision test:

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As you can now see, if your child sees like any of the above illustrations, learning can be challenging. Children with functional vision problems struggle more than their peers to learn, not because they are not bright and capable of learning, but because their visual system is not functioning in a healthy manner.

The good news is, once he or she receives an appropriate diagnosis, a personalized and intensive vision therapy program can lead to significant lasting improvements in a relatively short period of time.

Click here to read “9 Signs Your Child May Have an Undiagnosed Vision Problem,” to learn more about signs and symptoms of functional vision problems that interfere with learning.

After reviewing the signs and symptoms, if you suspect your child may have a learning-related vision problem, schedule a functional vision exam with a developmental optometrist today.

If you are located in Olney or Silver Spring, MD, contact Dr. Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center to schedule an appointment today.

Children Diagnosed with Developmental Delays May Also Have Undetected Vision Problems

Many children diagnosed with “developmental delays” also struggle with vision problems; and often parents learn that their child has an accompanying vision problem even after their family eye doctor assured them them that the child’s eyes are normal and healthy, with no need for corrective lenses.

To better understand why your family eye doctor did not detect a vision problem, read this article.

If your child has been diagnosed with developmental delays, and he or she is not making expected progress from working with an occupational therapist or in another type of early learning developmental therapy, it could be due to an undetected vision problem that can be treated with vision therapy.

Vision is so closely related to learning, that nearly every aspect of a child’s development can be slowed or affected by visual system deficiencies or delays. While a typical eye exam may find that a child sees clearly and has healthy eyes, only a thorough vision exam by a developmental optometrist trained in functional vision can properly detect the types of learning-related vision problems that could be interfering with your child’s progress.

To learn more about how vision relates to learning and child development, download this guide and watch this free webinar for parents.

Problems often attributed simply to “developmental delays” in young children that could be caused by or exacerbated by problems with the visual system include:

  • balance and clumsiness
  • gross and fine motor skills
  • poor eye contact
  • paying attention
  • hyperactivity
  • “acting out” and signs of frustration

Most learning-related vision problems are not detected until a child is older, and performance lags in reading, comprehension, writing, spelling, testing, and classroom behavior. However, younger children that have been diagnosed with developmental delays, who are working with other therapists, can benefit from early detection and early intervention. In addition to physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech language therapy, for example, the child can also enter a vision therapy program and make significant progress. A multidisciplinary team approach is often an answer.

If you suspect your child may have a learning-related vision problem, talk to your child’s doctor, teacher, or therapist about your concerns. Show them our resource center for teachers and this article for Occupational Therapists. However, keep in mind that this information may be new to these professionals as well, and you will want to explore all avenues that can support your child’s growth.

The only way to know for sure if your child with developmental delays can benefit from vision therapy is to get a proper diagnoses by scheduling a functional vision exam with a developmental optometrist.

If you are in Olney or Silver Spring, Maryland, contact Dr. Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center to schedule an appointment today.

 

Back to School in Montgomery County: Setting Children with Learning-Related Vision Problems Up for Classroom Success

 

It’s that time of year again. We’re back-to-school planning, shopping, and prepping here in Olney, Silver Spring, and the surrounding Montgomery County area. Parents, teachers, and administrators are working hard to lay the groundwork for another successful school year.

At the Visual Learning Center, we are proud to play a part in setting students up for success, and we’re fortunate to work with parents and educators who want the best for the children in our community. That’s why Dr. Philip Nicholson has committed to presenting workshops at area schools and centers about learning-related vision problems this year, as well as making more information and resources available about learning-related vision problems and vision therapy.

What we’ve found is that while parents and educational professionals are aware of common learning disabilities, dyslexia, and attention deficit disorder, visual processing problems with similar signs and symptoms still remain largely unknown. Most people mistakenly believe a visit to the family eye doctor with a diagnosis of 20/20 eyesight or a subscription for corrective lenses means their child has been cleared of vision problems that could interfere with learning.

Unfortunately, many learning-related vision problems go undetected and untreated. As this school year gets underway, we encourage you to be vigilant for the following behaviors and clues that could indicate a child has a vision problem:

  • The ability to demonstrate knowledge orally but not do as well on written tests and assignments
  • Performing below grade level or lower than expected despite being obviously bright
  • Reversing letters when reading or writing (in 2nd grade and beyond)
  • Consistently confusing words that are similar
  • Squinting while reading near or far
  • Difficulty copying from the board
  • Rubbing eyes continuously throughout the day
  • Rubbing temples or forehead and complaining of headaches
  • Complaints of dizziness or motion sickness
  • Skipping words or losing place while reading
  • Being easily distracted, inattentive, or having a lot of difficulty staying on task
  • Disruptive behavior, especially after expressing frustration with work
  • Homework takes hours to complete, with lots of struggle and coaxing from parents
  • Poor hand-eye coordination, depth perception, or awkwardness and clumsiness

If you suspect a child might have a learning-related vision problem, such as an eye movement deficiency or poor visual processing skills, the good news is an individualized comprehensive vision therapy program can lead to remarkable improvement quickly. The first step is to schedule a functional vision exam with an optometrist trained in developmental vision care.

Unlike a typical eye exam that only screens for clear vision at a distance, functional vision exams check for the coordination of eye muscles and test to ensure the visual processing system is working efficiently.

A healthy vision system can function well over prolonged periods of time, which is necessary in a classroom setting; however, if the child has a vision deficiency, learning and performance can be affected. Compensating for visual deficiencies will cause fatigue and frustration, possibly leading to diminished effort, behavioral problems, and lower self-esteem.

At the Visual Learning Center, we have a long track record of success stories. Dr. Nicholson himself benefited from vision therapy as a child, so he is committed to improving the lives and academic achievement for children who struggled like he did.

To discover more about the relationship between vision and learning, be sure to watch our webinar and download our free guide. To find out more about vision therapy, check out our free resources for educators. If you want to book Dr. Nicholson to speak at your school or organization, click here to learn about his workshops and seminars.

Best wishes to Montgomery County parents, teachers, and students for an outstanding school year.  

dyslexia or vision problem

Is it Dyslexia or a Visual Processing Problem?

When you notice your child reversing letters or words, your initial suspicion might be that your child has dyslexia. The truth is, reversing letters is common when children are first learning to read and write. If you notice letter reversals in Kindergarten or first grade, there is no reason to be concerned, because reversing letters, confusing left with right, and mixing up words are normal behaviors in the learning and development process. If a child continues to reverse letters and struggle with reading in second grade and beyond, it is time to start paying closer attention to other signs and symptoms.

If you suspect dyslexia, have your child evaluated by a reading specialist and your family doctor, who may refer you to a cognitive psychologist or another professional for testing. There is not one simple test to diagnose dyslexia, but instead a series of comprehensive evaluations and the systematic elimination of other problems.

Visual processing skills deficiencies and oculomotor disorders are sometimes overlooked, because awareness about how closely their symptoms overlap with dyslexia is not as widespread as it should be.

Determining whether your child has dyslexia or a vision problem is critical for your child’s well-being. Dyslexia cannot be cured, though many learn to cope with it well and succeed; however, learning-related vision deficiencies that have symptoms similar to dyslexia can be treated and even eliminated by developing skills through an individualized intensive vision therapy program.

Only an optometrist trained in developmental vision care can diagnose a learning-related vision problem through a comprehensive functional vision exam.

In both dyslexia and learning-related visual processing problems, children:

  • May confuse left with right, while dyslexics might also be ambidextrous and just as often confuse over with under.
  • Have difficulty with writing and messy handwriting; dyslexics may also grip their pencil in an unusual way and tend to have illegible writing.
  • Have problems with depth perception and peripheral vision; but dyslexics are also known to have keen and observant vision skills.
  • Tend to have trouble reading with little comprehension.
  • Transpose, omit, substitute, and reverse words and letters when reading and writing.
  • Have difficulty staying on task, paying attention, zoning out, and daydreaming.
  • Complain of dizziness, clumsiness, nausea, and headaches while reading, playing sports, or while doing fine-motor visual tasks.
  • Seem bright, articulate, and may have a high IQ, but they are unable to read, write, spell, or perform on standardized tests on grade level; those with vision problems will have trouble with other visual tasks that do not involve words or numbers.
  • Tend to be called lazy, careless, or labeled with behavioral problems. Struggle with low self-esteem get emotional about testing and school; dyslexics are known to cope by covering their weaknesses and compensating or distracting with other talents and skills.
  • Learn well through hands-on experiences; dyslexics tend to be helped by being able to observe and use visual aids, but those with visual deficiencies do better with oral coaching.
  • Have difficulty with time — Dyslexics have trouble with sequences and time management; those with vision problems have trouble telling time on a clock dial.

As you can see, the signs and symptoms of dyslexia and learning-related vision problems practically mimic each other, with subtle differences. Even a professional trained to recognize dyslexia may not suspect a vision deficiency without proper awareness.

If you are in the Olney, MD or Silver Spring, MD area and suspect your child might have a learning-related vision problem that has similar symptoms to dyslexia, contact Dr. Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center to schedule an appointment.

child with vision problem

9 Signs Your Child May Have an Undiagnosed Vision Problem

Vision problems that affect learning are all-too-often overlooked or misdiagnosed. Eye exams conducted at your child’s school or by your family eye doctor typically only screen for the ability to see clearly at a distance; so it is possible for the results to show 20/20 vision without detecting an eye movement problem or visual processing deficiency. To detect a learning-related vision problem, your child would need to undergo a thorough functional vision exam by an optometrist trained in developmental vision care.

However, without awareness of the signs of a learning-related vision problem, parents and education professionals tend to mistake the vision problem for a learning disability, dyslexia, or attention deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD). Unfortunately, many children struggle in school because of an undiagnosed vision problems for years unnecessarily, when the problem could improve significantly with vision therapy.

Montgomery County Parents: Don’t miss Dr. Nicholson’s upcoming webinar. Click here to register and learn about how undetected vision problems could be interfering with your child’s performance in school.

Here are 9 signs your child may have an undetected vision problem:

1. Skipping while reading or writing

Problems with eye muscle coordination, such as eye tracking and eye teaming, may cause a child to skip words or lines while reading or writing. You may notice your child losing his place while reading or copying from the board, rereading words or lines, or using a finger, pencil or some other tool in an attempt to maintain his place while reading or writing.

2. Reversing or getting confused

Children with visual processing problems commonly confuse their left with their right, or reverse letters, numbers, or words. This is why parents often suspect dyslexia. You may also notice that your child confuses similar looking words or substitutes words while reading.

3. Below average reading performance

You may wonder why your bright child is having difficulty reading, or reading very slowly, carefully, and without confidence. Children with deficient visual processing skills, such as visual memory, also have difficulty comprehending and remembering what they have read, as well as trouble with spelling.

4. Poor handwriting skills

If your child has exceptionally messy handwriting with crooked or poorly spaced letters and words, this might indicate a vision problem. He could be misaligning words or letters because he is having trouble with eye teaming or eye tracking.

5. Noticeable coping behaviors

Have you noticed your child squinting or bending close to her paper to read, even though her eyesight is 20/20? Have you seen her covering or closing one eye or tilting her head to an unusual angle while reading? These behaviors could be to compensate for an eye muscle coordination problem.

6. Attention problems

Often, children with vision problems are mistakenly thought to have attention deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD). Because of eye movement problems and deficiencies in their visual processing skills, they are constantly struggling in school and become frustrated. For this reason, the child may seem restless in the classroom environment or during homework, avoid activities that require visual concentration, or “act out” with disruptive behavior, much like children with ADD/ADHD.

7. Physical response

Children with vision problems are constantly overcompensating for their deficiencies and straining, so resulting physical symptoms are common. You may notice your child has headaches or exhaustion after reading or other intense visual activities, complaints that their eyes hurt or feel tired, or excessively dry, watery eyes, or red eyes. You may also see them blinking excessively or rubbing their eyes. Another related physical symptom is unexplained  motion sickness.

8. Sight abnormalities

A child with vision problems may complain of double vision or blurred vision, especially when looking up and down, such as copying from the board. There may be a sensitivity to light. He may complain that the text on the page is going in and out of focus, moving, or jumping, or that lines and letters are running together. Because it is possible this way of seeing is all they know, they could find it challenging to describe what they are experiencing, so pay close attention.

9. Body movement and awareness

Aside from learning-related activities, a child with vision problems may also have difficulty in social settings or in sports. She may have trouble with clumsiness, poor coordination, slow hand-eye coordination, or awkwardness with personal space boundaries.

Overall, the signs and symptoms of vision problems that affect children are varied and diverse. Coupled with lack of awareness about eye movement and visual processing skills, misdiagnosis is common. If you have noticed any combination of these symptoms in your child, schedule a functional vision exam with an optometrist trained in developmental vision care. Once diagnosed, the good news is, an individualized vision therapy program can result in significant improvement in a relatively short period of time.

If you are in the Olney or Silver Spring, MD area, contact Dr. Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center today for an appointment.

Vision Therapy Exercise: Discrimination Orientation Arrows Activity

If your child struggles with determining the correct letter orientation — or reversing letters when writing — due to a visual processing skills deficiency, vision therapy exercises can help.

Discrimination Orientation Arrows (DOA) is a vision therapy activity that develops visual discrimination, which is a skill essential in determining correct letter orientation and preventing letter reversals among students with learning-related vision problems.

In this activity, students work with a sheet of paper that contains a series of arrows, which are pointing in various directions. The vision therapist asks students to look at the sheet and indicate which direction each arrow is pointing, by saying “left” or “right” while the eyes are moving across the page.We encourage students to start slowly and allow for mistakes and self-correction to build their confidence.

This activity seeks to mimic the process of selecting a direction for each letter while writing.  “Should d point right or left? Should b point left or right? Which direction should I write q? Which direction should I write p?”

With practice, the outcome children enjoy is that they begin to catch their mistakes faster, reduce the frequency of errors, and dramatically boost their self-esteem. As the student improves, we incorporate a metronome into the activity and they use the beat to enhance deeper comprehension of discrimination orientation skills, until they become second nature. Soon, they will be writing b, d, q, p, etc. correctly, and with confidence.

Watch this video to see a demonstration of the Discrimination Orientation Arrows activity in progress and download a Discrimination Arrows activity packet here.

 

Should you wish to learn more about this vision therapy activity for letter reversals or schedule an appointment with Visual Learning Center in Olney, Maryland, contact us today at (301) 570-4611.