Did you know most of what we learn comes through visual channels? Good eyesight plays a huge role in reading, writing, spelling, reading comprehension, and more. If your child can't see the material or has difficulty seeing it as it should appear, this can lead to poor academic performance and lowered self-esteem.
Many learning disabilities are actually visually based. This means that with vision therapy, learning difficulties may be lessened or even eliminated. If your child struggles in school, an eye exam and follow-up vision therapy treatment could be all that's needed to balance the scales.
What Is Vision Therapy?
The overall goal of vision therapy is to improve how a child or adult processes visual information. It's actually a vision-training process that helps both eyes move in coordination to see images as they really are. It also teaches the brain to interpret these images more accurately.
Vision therapy is performed under the supervision of an optometrist and uses scientifically proven methods to improve how you see and interpret the world around you. It's medication-free and appropriate for people of most ages, though the earlier problem is diagnosed and treated, the more successful the outcome. For your struggling child, it can mean the difference between hating school and loving it.
What Are the Signs My Child Needs Vision Therapy?
Signs of visual learning problems are usually subtle, and even if your child undergoes regular vision screenings at school, there's no guarantee these screenings will detect them. It may be easier to look for the signs in your child's academic performance and attitude toward school. Symptoms may include:
Delays in completing homework
Dislike of reading
Chronic errors in spelling
Dread of going to school
Complaints of underperformance from teachers
Poor academic performance
Lag in developmental milestones
Short attention span in school
If you suspect your child may have vision problems that aren't being noticed, schedule an appointment with a developmental optometrist for a more in-depth evaluation.
How Does Vision Therapy Treat Learning Disorders?
Vision therapy uses specialized equipment such as lenses, filters, and prisms that retrain the eyes to take in information and retrain the brain to process it more accurately. Sessions usually take place once or twice a week in your optometrist's office and may last for an hour or less. Afterward, your doctor may assign exercises to be done at home between visits.
Vision therapy is non-invasive and painless, but it improves both gross and fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. It also impacts the way your child sees and interprets letters, numbers, words, and shapes. It trains both eyes to move together as your child reads a line of text and helps them focus clearly on the words in front of them.
Where Do I Find Help for My Child?
The first step in finding help for children who struggle with visual learning disabilities is to talk with your pediatric eye doctor. This is the professional who can refer your child to a vision specialist. Once your child has been diagnosed, treatment can usually begin right away. In this way, your child learns the necessary skills to overcome their vision problems, freeing them to begin enjoying and excelling at school.
According to the College of Optometrists and Vision Development, it's estimated that roughly 10 percent of children have vision problems severe enough to impact learning. This translates to at least 5 million children in the United States.
This disability may damage your child's academic performance, confidence, school attendance, and the way they view the world. And children who have trouble reading may be impacted for the rest of their lives. It's important to question why your child is having trouble in school, and if you're not getting solid answers, it may mean that an in-depth vision exam and vision therapy are the answers.
What Kind of Results Can I Expect with Vision Therapy?
Children tend to master new concepts faster than adults. This is because their brains have more plasticity. Plasticity is the brain's ability to adapt to new situations and new information through experience. Visual therapy relies on brain plasticity to change the way you or your child sees and processes information.
Children often show improvement within the first 10 weeks, though adults may take longer. This is simply because learning happens more quickly when you're younger. However, it's never too late to seek vision therapy.
Even older adults may find their lives improving through this category of treatment. At the opposite end of the spectrum, children as young as 5 or 6 may begin treatment with visual therapy exercises.
It's also good to note that vision therapy is not a life-long process. Treatment usually lasts for a period of between 20 and 40 weeks. After this, you'll have learned new visual skills that will be yours to keep forever.