The relationship between a behavioural optometrist and dyslexia is an interesting one, and at times a somewhat controversial one too!
Anything to do with dyslexia is one of the most controversial areas of health care and development. None of the experts can agree with each other on what constitutes dyslexia, and the best form of treatment.
However, the behavioural optometrist and dyslexia should have a very close relationship. This is because in many instances a behavioural optometrist can provide a solution not just for dyslexia itself It also addresses the many and multifaceted symptoms that are dyslexic child might produce.
So what does a behavioural optometrist do, and how can this possibly relate to the most common of learning problems in our society. Is there any common ground between the behavioural optometrist and dyslexia, and can we offer any solutions?
The Behavioural Optometrist and Dyslexia Treatment
Dyslexia treatment behavioural optometrist have a lot in common. Behavioural optometrist specialise in treating not only the eyes of children, but also the way in which they use their eyes to take information in. The vast majority of learning problems including dyslexia are visually based. This is because over 80% of all information in the classroom is taken in through the eyes.
So what does a behavioural optometrist do that is different?
All optometrist will examine the eyes of children, but most optometrists, particularly those associated with the big chains, treat children like miniature adults. They do a good job of testing their eyes as far as deciding whether they are long or short sighted. They also can examine the eye health, but they do not go any further than this.
The behavioural optometrist performs all of the duties of a regular optometrist. They also looks at a number of aspects of visual perception and development. They look at how the eyes work together as a team, how they focus together, how much flexibility and stress the visual system is under while they are reading and a whole host of other tests.
They even look at how the brain visualises words for spelling. Also how children process visual space (which relates to letter and number reversals) and how they actually move their eyes and control their eyes when reading.
What the Behavioural Optometrist Can Do for Dyslexia
It should be pointed out that in most cases the behavioural optometrist and dyslexia treatment does not involve use of coloured lenses, but rather uses spectacle lenses with optical powers to produce the same effect.
While dyslexia and behavioural problems are often reported by clinical psychologists, behavioural optometrist can actually have an effect on dyslexia and behaviour issues by reducing the stress the child is under when reading and studying. This in turn can reduce their frustration and improve their behaviour without undergoing any other treatments. In fact, I have given the appropriate reading lenses to many children and seen a decrease in frustration and an improvement in behaviour patterns within one month.
The frustration felt by the parents of a dyslexic child is often exacerbated by the fact that when they tried to obtain help for their child. Often all they get is a series of diagnoses rather than an actual form of treatment. For the behavioural optometrist and dyslexia children, there is a clear and easy to follow the path towards this treatment, with the appropriate lenses and vision therapy being available almost immediately.
Lenses and Vision Therapy
While lenses can cause a child to concentrate more effectively and for much longer and decrease frustration, they will not solve all of the problems associated with dyslexia. For example, you cannot put glasses on a child and expect them to spell better, or to start writing letters forward rather than in reverse. Any claims along those lines would certainly be bogus!
However, the behavioural optometrist combines lenses to relax the muscles in the eyes and cause the child concentrate more effectively with the appropriate vision therapy. This vision therapy can train the visual skills that are lacking in the child’s development. This can help dyslexia and its associated problems can often do this in a matter of months rather than years. The great news is that this does not involve drugs, medication or years of behavioural modification.
It also doesn’t involve coloured lenses that are socially unacceptable! Behavioural optometrist offers a treatment that is socially acceptable, targeted at the specific skills needed for learning and out of the way usually within 6 to 9 months.
This makes a trip to the behavioural optometrist an absolute must for every dyslexic, diagnosed or suspected. In my area, I even bulk bill most patients, meaning that most young dyslexia patients can be seen at no charge to the parents.
This is why after 30 years of practice, I believe that the relationship between behavioural optometrist and dyslexia is a strong one. It can offer real and long-lasting improvement for children with learning disorders. This should provide peace of mind for parents, and something positive they can do to help their child rather than just getting another diagnosis and another label!
So while there are no specific dyslexia optometrist, the behavioural optometrist and dyslexia have always and continue to have a close relationship.