How Vision Therapy Can Help Your Child Learn

It is estimated that up to 25 percent of children, from kindergarten to grade 6, have some form of vision problem. This may not be detected in vision screening tests that are normally done before a child begins school each year as those tests usually test acuity. Therefore a result of 20/20 vision does not mean that your child may not have a vision problem that could affect their learning. In fact, your child could still have a number of visual disorders such as convergence insufficiency disorder (a leading cause of eyestrain), near-far distance accommodation issues, myopia or visual tracking problems. 

So if you are concerned about your child's current academic status, ability to read and the attitude to learning, a more in-depth vision screen and possible vision therapy might need to be explored.  

Here's your sign

There are signs to look for that might indicate that vision therapy might be needed. Unfortunately, these are sometimes mistaken for laziness or ADHD symptoms in children. However, if you observe fatigue, fidgeting, and frustrations related to schoolwork then your child might be suffering from a vision problem and not necessarily dyslexia or some other learning difficulty. Other signs to look for include your child having difficulty switching focus from a white or blackboard to the book or having a headache when he/she starts to read. You can also do a more comprehensive checklist to determine your child's need.

Scheduling a comprehensive eye examination is the only way to be absolutely sure of the state of your child's vision status. The cost of a comprehensive examination can range anywhere from $50 to $100 depending on who does the exam and what is involved. However, you should check if your insurance covers it totally or requires a co-payment.  

What to expect

Early detection of vision problems makes for better outcomes for your child's ability to see as well as learn. You and an optometrist (such as one from Dixie Ophthalmic Specialists at Zion Eye Institute) will need to work out the activities that should be best for your child and will often require a team approach with the school involved as well. Activities, which can be done at home and at school include such things as visual games of memory or "spy hole." Most involved timed activities of between 5 to 10 seconds, which require the child to shift focus with the eyes. 

The aim of the therapy is often to correct such issues as faulty peripheral vision, vision fluency and tracking and to improve focus shift from near to far objects and from color to color. The activities are also age specific so that the difficult is increased according to the motor and mental acuity of the child.