Tag Archives: behavioral problems

behavior problems in children

Can Vision Therapy Improve Your Child’s Behavior Problems?

Does your child have behavior problems, and you just can’t seem to figure out why? What many parents and educators don’t know is that sometimes behavior problems in children are caused by undetected vision problems that can be successfully treated with vision therapy.

Even if a child has 20/20 eyesight, vision deficiencies can interfere significantly with learning. And when a child struggles to learn and complete tasks that are easy for classmates, they grow frustrated, distracted, and may act out or display coping behaviors that appear to be common childhood behavior problems.

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

You may get frequent calls from your child’s teacher, and perhaps you’ve even met with counselors about their behavior. But despite disciplinary actions or positive reinforcement, the disruptive behavior continues, seemingly undeterred.

Issues that contribute to a child’s behavioral problems can be as varied as hereditary factors, malnutrition, allergies, physical illnesses, or instability at home. Behavior problems in children have many possible root causes–environmental concerns, abuse, cries for help, emotional problems, developmental delays, attention deficit disorder, anxiety, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD),  obsessive compulsive disorder, and much more.

Parents and educators rarely suspect a vision deficiency  because there’s simply little awareness about how vision problems affect learning and behavior in children.

Signs or symptoms often attributed to behavior problems that may be caused by a vision disorder include:

  • Antsiness or fidgeting
  • Getting up from seat at inappropriate times
  • Talking during instruction or distracting classmates
  • Inability to stay on task or complete work
  • Defiantly refusing to do assignments or to take a turn reading in front of the class
  • Disruptive behavior or “acting out”
  • Deflecting blame or making excuses
  • Social awkwardness, missing social cues about politeness and personal space, and trouble getting along with peers

Children with vision deficiencies often don’t know they have a problem, or they are not able to articulate it. They think everyone else sees and processes information the way they do, and they don’t know why things are difficult for them. Their eyes get tired, they get headaches, and they are constantly straining to do even the simplest tasks, such as read a line of text or copy from the board.

Vision exams by your family eye doctor typically only test for vision clarity. As long as a child can clearly see and identify the letters on an eye chart, he can pass the exam with 20/20 vision or get prescribed corrective lenses. The exam usually doesn’t test for eye movement, eye coordination, or visual processing problems.

The only way to determine if your child’s behavior problems are caused by a vision problem is to schedule a comprehensive vision exam with a developmental optometrist who specializes in functional vision care.

The good news is, learning-related vision problems that affect behavior can be treated successfully with vision therapy. Many parents notice significant lasting behavioral improvement within a few short months of intensive vision therapy.

If you’re located in Olney, MD or Silver Spring, MD and you suspect that your child may have a learning-related vision problem that affects behavior, contact Dr. Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center to schedule an appointment today.

Register for an upcoming webinar here.

What Appears to be Attention Deficit Disorder Could be a Vision Problem

Have you received a note from school saying your son or daughter is having difficulty paying attention? Did your child’s teacher or counselor recommend testing for attention deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD)?

Teachers might describe your child as distracted or antsy, report that your child daydreams in class, stares out the window, or looks around the room when he should be focusing on his paper or the board. You may have noticed that your child has a short attention span, trouble reading, and difficulty staying on task or following instructions.

Your pediatrician or a pediatric psychiatrist might have diagnosed your child with attention deficit disorder and prescribed medication, such as Ritalin or Adderall.  No parent wants this diagnosis for their child or to medicate their child unnecessarily. But if a child truly has attention deficit disorder, caring parents want what’s best, so the child can improve, learn, settle down, behave, feel more in control, and get along better with peers. If a child does have ADD/ADHD, proper treatment can work wonders.

However, some children are misdiagnosed with attention deficit disorder, when the symptoms they are experiencing are actually related to a vision disorder. Many parents only learn that vision can be at the root of the problem when a child’s behavior and attention does not improve with treatment for attention deficit disorder.

Vision is not usually suspected. Suggestions that a vision problem could be to blame are often initially dismissed; because after all, most children undergo vision screening at school or have an annual exam by their family eye doctor. The child either has “20/20 vision” or he already wears corrective lenses.

However, “20/20 vision” is not enough, as it simply indicates that a patient can see clearly at 20 feet of distance. It does not test how well the child can see close up, how eyes function when they move across a page or from a desk to the board and back again. Screening for 20/20 eye sight also does not assess how well visual processing works, meaning there is no measurement of how well the child is able to remember or make sense of what he sees.

In fact, the eye chart test only catches a small percentage of vision problems. Unfortunately, screening for distance only is outdated and inadequate, considering the tasks and learning activities children need to complete in school.

When a child has a learning-related vision problem and his visual processing skills are weak, he must put forth a tremendous amount of extra effort just to keep his eyes turned correctly, focused, aligned, and recall or process what he is learning. This extra effort can cause fatigue, headaches, and unease.

As a result of experiencing visual difficulties, the child may choose to stare into space, respond to irritability by moving around or choosing an activity that does not cause as much stress on his visual system, or react to his frustration with disruptive behavior. What appears to be daydreaming, distraction, or ‘acting out’ may simply be avoidance or coping behaviors. He does not understand that something is wrong; he is simply adapting to his environment and expectations as best he can.

If your child’s attention or behavioral problem is resulting from a vision deficiency, the good news is a personalized intensive vision therapy program can result in significant and lasting improvement within a relatively short period of time.

To be clear, not all attention problems are related to vision. A child may be dealing with neurological, psychological, nutritional, environmental, auditory processing, or any number of factors. Vision therapy only helps with attention and behavioral problems if a child has a vision problem.

To determine if your child has a vision problem that may be affecting his attention or behavior, he should undergo a functional vision exam and through vision assessment by an optometrist that specializes in functional and developmental vision care.

If you suspect a vision problem, or you want to rule out a vision problem in your child, and you live near Olney, MD or Silver Spring, MD, contact us to schedule an appointment with the Visual Learning Center.