Tag Archives: occupational therapy

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.


child in occupational therapy session

3 Vision Problems Occupational Therapists Can Recognize When Working with Patients

At the Visual Learning Center, we often receive referrals from Occupational Therapists who notice that a child in their care may be struggling with vision problems. OTs are trained to work with children to improve and strengthen specific skills and abilities, and deficiencies in the visual processing system can interfere with a child’s ability to make progress.

However, many skilled and experienced Occupational Therapists simply are not trained on how to detect vision problems. Further, many OTs are unaware that Vision Therapy can supplement or enhance the work they are doing with a child.

If you are an Occupational Therapist who works with children, here are 3 main types of functional vision problems you may notice during your assessments or sessions:

1. Accommodation Skills

If you work work with a child who often gets frontal headaches or eye aches, squints, blinks, or rubs his eyes excessively, or often complains that his eyes sting or itch, these may be signs of an eye focusing problem.

Children with poor accommodation skills, or trouble focusing, are unable to easily sustain focus on an object or text or maintain a clear image for a reasonable length of time. Reading and writing are difficult because objects become fuzzy or blurred, and the child will strain to perform well on assignments or tests, compared to his peers.

2. Convergence Skills

If you notice that a child tries to avoid reading, looks away from the text often, shows fatigue easily while reading, or indicates that the words are moving around on the page, this could be due to an eye teaming problem.

If a child has poor convergence or divergence skills, or an eye teaming problem, this means he has trouble using his eyes together as a team. His eyes move somewhat independently of one another, causing blurry or double vision, difficulty with depth perception, and fatigue. Performance and reading comprehension suffer because the child has to work harder than his classmates just to properly see and efficiently process the text.

3. Ocular Motor Skills

If you are working with a child who reads slowly, struggles with reading comprehension, has difficulty copying from the board at school, or loses his place or skips words while reading or writing, this could be due to an eye tracking problem.

If a child has poor ocular motor skills, or an eye tracking problem, he strains to accurately control the movements of his eyes. Instead of moving smoothly, his eyes will skip or jump, making it difficult to read, write, or look up at something in the distance and then back down to the page in front of him. What should be simple tasks prove challenging.

To learn more about signs and symptoms of functional vision problems, download our free guide “10 Things You Need to Know About Vision” here and watch our recorded webinar on vision here.

If you suspect that a child may have a functional vision problem, the next step is to refer him or her to a developmental optometrist for a comprehensive functional vision exam.

For occupational therapists in Olney or Silver Spring, Maryland, contact Dr. Philip Nicholson at The Visual Learning Center to speak to our staff.