Is your child suffering?
Of the 4 million children in Australia aged under 12 years, one out of five will experience a vision problem according to the Optometrists Association of Australia. Vision problems rarely threaten a child’s sight, but can prevent normal development. Some vision problems may interfere with learning and hinder participation in sport.
Vision is a learned skill, similar to walking and talking. Infants are born with components of the visual system in place, such as the eyes, optic nerve and brain, but it is after birth that growth, development, co-ordination and fine tuning of the visual system occurs.
Learning is accomplished through complex and inter-related processes. Your eyes and the visual system grow and develop from the brain, making vision a fundamental factor in thinking and learning. Therefore, it is important that the issues regarding vision and learning are well understood by schools, parents and health professionals to enable early detection and treatment.
SIGNS OF VISION PROBLEMS
Vision is a key sense in the classroom and plays a major role in reading, spelling, writing, board work, and computer work. Students tackle these tasks all day long, day after day. Each requires the visual skills of seeing quickly and understanding visual information that is frequently less than arm’s length from the eyes.
Many students’ visual skills are not up to the demands of these types of classroom learning situations. Clear eyesight is not all that required for close vision tasks. Students must have a variety of scanning, focusing and visual coordination skills for learning and for obtaining meaning from reading.
If these visual skills have not been addressed or are poorly developed, learning may become more difficult and stressful and students typically may react in one of a variety of ways:
Behavioural Optometrists are particularly interested in the appropriate development of children’s visual systems. Of particular concern is how all the component systems operate once the child begins school. A delay in development of any part of the visual system can have an impact upon the performance of the child at school. This may affect reading performance, concentration and behaviour in the classroom.
At Total Optical, we specialise in Behavioural Optometry for babies, pre-schoolers and school-aged children with learning related vision deficiencies that are affecting their growth and development. We can explore the functioning of the eyes and the brain, as they process visual information and effect performance and behavior. This includes areas of immature visual skills that may be interfering with progress at school. Even children with 20/20 eyesight may have problems with their visual skills.
Every child needs an initial eye examination to determine how well they can see and maintain clear vision. Claimable from Medicare, the initial examination will take an average of 45 to 60 minutes.
If your child is having difficulty with learning, an additional appointment may be scheduled for a Developmental Visual Information Processing (DVIP) Assessment with our Vision Therapist. Your child will be assessed in the following areas:
These skills are needed in order for a child to keep their position on a page, copy from the board and read fluently. They also assist with general co-ordination.
Good visual spatial skills start with a child’s awareness of their own sidedness (left-right awareness), progress to awareness of external objects, and finally to the printed page. Without this knowledge children will often reverse letters, numbers and words and show poor page organisation.
These skills allow a child to immediately recognise a word. Children with poor visual memory will often act as if it is the first time they have come across a word, even if they have come in contact with the word hundreds of times before.
Allows a child to ‘make sense’ of visually presented information. Without this ability children will struggle to appreciate subtle differences between letters, numbers and words, which impairs comprehension.
Handwriting requires a child to make a mental plan of the letters and words (utilises visual analysis skills) then use fine motor skills (pen control) to execute this plan. Children with poor visual motor integration will tend to have slow or messy handwriting or poor page organisation.
Although not a focus of our testing, it is important to get a baseline measurement to obtain an overall picture of your child’s learning style. Good auditory skills allow for a child to sound out unfamiliar words, retain verbal information and understand information sequencing. This helps with reading, writing, and mathematical and musical ability.
If your child’s Developmental Visual Information Processing Assessment reveals any areas needing improvement, you and your child may choose to start a vision-therapy program, or to seek help from an occupational or speech therapist.
A vision-training program is divided into 5 basic sections: