Vision problems – Autistic Children
You can have 20/20 vision but not have your eyes working properly to perceive what they see. This perceptual problem is, in fact more to do with how the brain interprets information then the functionality of the eyes themselves. The fine arrangement of how our eyes and balance system work together (the vestibular arrangement) also affects how person perceives visual information.
As a therapist (alternative) specialising in learning problems, I am intrigued to understand how visual input together with motor and auditory affects a child’s ability perform academically.
Those with learning difficulties; either developmental or genetic in nature will experience more problems in perceiving what they see. Symptoms such as letter reversal, or not being able to follow a line of text are familiar to parents with child that have special educational needs.
On reading the book ‘Seeing through new eyes. By Dr Melvin Kaplan‘ which I recommend to all parents with children who are on the Autistic spectrum of disorders. I came to learn that for autistic children the vision sensory in put can have a huge impact on behaviour.
An example that stands out the most for me in the book is the story of Rickie. Rickie had a different set of challenges to autistic children. This 13 year old had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. She developed tunnel vision to compensate her inability to understand depth perception. The failure for a child with acceptable eyesight to have this perceived difficulty meant Rickie thought the world was closing in on her. Understandably this left her feeling threatened and vulnerable. Hence her inevitable diagnosis of a mental health condition. Dr Kaplan worked to help Rickie to a normal visual system by means of yoked prism lens and vision therapy. The programme took over a year but Rickie went on to lead a normal life.
This example was an extreme case of how vision therapy can help a situation which deems as helpless.
For those on the autistic spectrum of disorders where physiological problems such as toe walking or balance and co-ordination together with communication difficulties can all be helped by careful prescription of prism lens and vision therapy. By changing the way in which that child perceives the world through their visual sensory system more skills can be learnt with the ability to interact more successful than before.
I found this book a compelling read from start to finish. The forward by Dr Stephen E Edelson from the Autism Research institute in San Diego CA
‘I’ve been amazed at how the yoked prism lens Dr Kaplan uses can have an immediate impact on a child’s behaviour…These instant changes can translate, with the help of vision therapy,into long term changes including better attention, increased speech, enhanced social skills and better academic performance. They can also result in a happier, less tense individual, with more energy to understand and enjoy the world.’
Usha Patel is a Special Educational needs therapist. She works using simple movement and exercise to that child’s capability. Her focus is on using non-evasive motor sensory techniques to help academic performance.You can contact Usha via her websites www.integratedbrain.co.uk or www.ravivpracticelondon.co.uk,