Hello Friends! Thanks for stopping by! I think you are going to be glad that you did today! I have some thought-provoking information to share with you! So many times over the years, I have had students who struggle with reading fluency and comprehension, handwriting, and writing skills, geometry and spacial skills, only to find through many months of evaluations, parent/teacher meetings, and ESAP meetings that the problem is a vision problem...not a "you need glasses" vision problem, but a learning related vision problem. This issue has been especially high on my radar because my own son was diagnosed with a learning related vision problem when he was 9 years old, and recognizing that problem and getting to the root of it was a major turning point in his life!
Recently I was very fortunate to be able to attend a seminar explaining exactly what is going on for children with these types of vision problems and it was so enlightening! Fascinating stuff friends! Like, did you know...
Now, these are not "just get your glasses and you will be all fixed up" vision problems... those vision problems are usually caught in a standard eye exam given in the pediatrician's office or the nurse's office. These vision problems go beyond 20/20 vision tests. What you need to know about those "standard" vision exams that students get from the pediatrician or the school nurse is...
Actually, a fully functional visual system allows us to answer the following questions:
- Where am I?
- Where are other things in space?
- What is it that I see?
- What can I tell you about what I see?
It is not only important for a child's brain to use the eyes to receive information effectively, but it must also comprehend that information quickly and react to it appropriately.
Ok, you are thinking, but why then don't these students ever complain about not being able to see properly?
Here is where the problem is...
They don't realize that what is happening to them when they are trying to read or do math is any different than anyone else in the room...they just figure, it is one more thing they just don't seem to do very well!
So if the students aren't telling us... how are we supposed to know there is a problem? Well, there are lots of signs and signals to look for in a child who is having learning related vision problems. Some of the most common ones are...
Unfortunately, because the problems these children are having affect how their eyes focus, work together, or move along a line of print when reading, these learning related vision problems cause children to struggle unnecessarily, and can result in their being mislabeled as learning disabled or having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
How often have you had a student whose learning behaviors are just "off" and you can't exactly put your finger on what is going on?
In my experience, the signs that have stood out the most to me in my classroom that have been red flags have been: skipping lines when reading; saying that the words are "moving" on the page; horrible handwriting, especially when copying from the board; holding the book far away from their face to read; excessive erasing; only doing part of the work and then just stopping/giving up; doing great with math computation but struggling any time we work with geometrical shapes and figures; and very strong school-related anxiety.
(During the seminar we were able to "walk in the shoes" of the students who struggle with visual learning problems, and we were given the opportunity to view things in the ways that these children view them. Below is an example of what a child with blurred vision or trouble focusing may constantly deal with in the classroom.)
Can you imagine how difficult and exhausting this would be for a child? In the time that we were at the seminar, after experiencing briefly the different visual problems students may face, the adults in the room were FRUSTRATED, EXHAUSTED, AND OVERWHELMED!
So once we see these signs and symptoms and suspect there is a learning related visual problem, then what? Well the student needs to be evaluated by a Developmental Optometrist who can then determine the exact problem or problems the child is having. Many of these students are then placed into a vision therapy program, which is a program of activities specifically designed to help the patient develop the visual abilities/areas, which are inadequate for schoolwork.Vision therapy trains the visual system to function properly.
I wanted to share this information with you because over the years I have seen several success stories as a direct result of working with Developmental Optometrists and Vision Therapy programs. If you would like more information about vision therapy and learning related vision problems you can visit www.seemybest.com