Learning Disabilities and Visual Skills
ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is a common behavioral disorder that affects about 10% of school-age children. Kidshealth.org reports that kids often understand what is expected of them but they have trouble “following through because they can't sit still, pay attention, or focus on details.” Often times though, an undiagnosed vision problem can look like a learning disability. In today’s modern classrooms, where most didactic learning takes place through print and electronic media, optimal vision is crucial. Children who have troubles keeping up with a lesson, often act out, appearing to be disruptive by comparison to their classmates. Vision problems such as convergence insufficiency, accommodative insufficiency or strabismus, all may affect how efficient a child’s visual system may work.
Convergence insufficiency is where the eyes have a strong tendency to drift outward when doing close up work. Accommodative insufficiency is a sensory motor problem characterized by an inability to focus or sustain focus at near.
Strabismus is a visual problem in which the eyes are not aligned properly; one eye may look straight ahead, while the other eye turns inward, outward, upward, or downward.
For school age children, they require several visual skills to provide efficient vision. They require clear vision (at distance and near), ability to maintain focus accurately, good focusing flexibility to allow rapid change from one distance to another, binocular vision skills, peripheral vision and eye-hand coordination. If any of these visual skills are inefficient, children may have difficulty keeping up with the visual demands of schoolwork.
When investigating if a child has a learning disability, an in-depth oculo-visual exam should be conducted to determine if visual skills is a component to the disability.
Doctors of Optometry recommend that infants have their eyes examined between six and nine months of age; children have their eyes examined between two and five years of age and then yearly after starting school.
Dr. Jenny Tsui Doctor of Optometry, Della Optique