Visual problems are very common with autistic patients and can include lack of eye contact, side viewing, staring at spinning objects or light, and difficulty fixating with their eyes. Autistic patients often use visual information inefficiently and cannot coordinate their central and peripheral vision. They will look to the side of the object instead of directly at the object when tracking.
Many autistic patients are tactually or visually defensive. Tactually defensive patients are over stimulated easily through touch and may cause the patient to be always moving and wiggling. Visually defensive persons avoid contact with specific visual input and may have difficulty fixating and frequently rely on a constant scanning of visual information in order to gain meaning from it.
Testing of the autistic patient is done while wearing special lenses. For example, observations of the postural adaptations and compensations as the patient sits, walks, stands, and does some physical activities to determine how he/she can see and therefore be helped.
Depending on the testing results, lenses to compensate for refractive errors such as astigmatism, nearsightedness, and farsightedness (with or without prism), may be prescribed. Vision therapy for autism can be prescribed to stimulate general visual arousal, enhance visual movement skills, and the central visual system. Vision therapy can organize visual space and gain peripheral stability so that the patient can fixate with the central vision and gain more efficient visual skills and visual information processing.
ADD/ADHD & Vision
Undetected/untreated vision problems can elicit the same signs and symptoms that are commonly associated with ADHD.
New Research in Vision and ADD/ADHD
A recent study by the researchers at the Children’s Eye Center, University of San Diego, uncovered a relationship between convergence insufficiency and ADHD. Children with convergence insufficiency, a common vision disorder, are three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than children without the disorder.
25% of children may have a learning related vision problem.
A significant percentage of children with learning disabilities have some type of visual dysfunction. One study uncovered that 13% of children between the ages of 9 and 13 suffer from moderate to marked convergence insufficiency. As many as 1 in 4, or 25%, of school-aged children may have a vision problem that can affect learning.
Dyslexia and Vision
It is possible that a learning related vision problem can be misidentified as dyslexia because there are similarities between the two. It is more common that children with dyslexia also have a visual component that complicates their difficulties. When a child is struggling with reading and learning, it is important to rule out the possibility of a vision problem. Optometric Vision Therapy for ADHD treats vision problems that could possibly interfere with reading or learning.
According to Dr. Debra Walhof, a pediatrician and parent advocate for the National Center for Learning Disabilities,
“It is important to remember that normal sight may not necessarily be synonymous with normal vision…That being said, if there is a vision problem, it could be preventing the best tutoring and learning methods from working. Now that certainly doesn’t mean every dyslexic child needs vision therapy, however in my opinion, skills such as focusing, tracking and others are essential foundational tools for reading. In general, if your child has trouble with reading or learning to read, getting a vision evaluation to assess these skills from a qualified Developmental Optometrist”
Reading, Writing, and Vision
Reading and writing are two of the most common tasks performed at a desk job or in school. Any time we read from a book, a computer monitor, or a sheet of paper, we are performing a visual task. When we read, we need to:
- Aim our eyes at the same point simultaneously and accurately
- Focus our eyes to clear the reading material
- Sustain clear focus
- Move our two eyes as a coordinated team equally and accurately across a line of print
When writing, we start with an image in our mind and then we code it into words. At the same time, we are moving the pencil continuously to make sense of the written material. We focus our eyes and then move them together as a team, just as in the reading process.
Complicated visual procedures are involved with reading and writing. A problem with any of the visual parts described above can interfere in some way with reading or writing. In addition to Optometric Vision Therapy, there are other options of vision therapy for ADHD that will help remedy this problem. If you or a loved one is experiencing any reading or writing issues, please set up an appointment with us. (Link to set up appointment).
Brain Injury/Stroke and Vision
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 1.4 million Americans suffer from a traumatic brain injury every year. Vision problems are fairly common after a brain injury, meaning the brain and eyes are not functioning properly together. If you have suffered any head injuries, vision therapy for brain injury and prompt treatment is crucial.