Is your child dyslexic? There is a lot of talk these days about dyslexia, probably more than ever before.  An evolution of the definition appears to have taken place, and this has caused confusion for many parents.

The Classic Dyslexic

The classic dyslexic as described in the original literature by people like Drs Adolph Kussmaul and Rudolf Berlin (who first used the word dyslexia to describe someone who, in his terms was “word blind”) implied that the condition was genetic, and thereby incurable.  Examples of such patients were not common, and they displayed an inability to recognise words, as well as the classic symptom of writing words in reverse.

The Modern Dyslexic

The problem is that, as the definition has morphed into pretty much any reading or writing difficulty, the assumption that the condition is incurable has not morphed in the same way.  Dyslexia is now an extremely common diagnosis in some fields, and the problem is that many teachers, and parents, feel that it is a problem that nothing and no one will be able to help in any way.

Several innovations have attempted to help the child dyslexic, the most famous being coloured lenses (Irlen lenses). Less well known is the kind of treatments we offer in our practice, where we use conventional, clear lenses and innovative vision therapy to help dyslexic kids.

How Can We Help?

I’ll e honest, I’m not a fan of labels, especially when they are applied to a child who has enough problems learning!  I see their usefulness at times, but I would rather prescribe a solution than a label any day.

Vision is the dominant sense in the classroom, and so it makes sense to examine it closely.  Almost every child with a learning problem can see the print, so clearly we are going to have to go beyond the current medical model of so-called 20/20 vision.

Just because a child can see the print, does not mean they can learn effectively!  Chimpanzees can see the print, but they cannot read, so again we are going to have to do better than a traditional eye examination.

Behavioural optometry looks at far more than a child’s ability to see, and we perform many complex tests looking at the child’s eye teaming and focussing, and their ability to decode and process words on a page.

Using specialised lenses, we find we can often dramatically improve a child’s focusing and concentration when it comes to reading and writing. But hey, concentration is only part of the solution, as any parent knows.

Vision Therapy to the Rescue

I have designed my own vision therapy course which trains the basic visual skills kids need when they learn. Glasses might help, but of the child is far behind we need to try something to catch them up fast.

Using our exclusive vision therapy course, many have seen not instant but sustained improvement in their children, whether they are dyslexic or carrying another label.

Why not have a look at our vision therapy here…

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Or better still, call this number and make a time to come in for your BULK BILLED eye examination…

5457 3333

dyslexia treatment at schooDyslexia treatment is often talked about these days.  In fact, dyslexia is a commonly diagnosed condition in children today, and over recent years the definition has come to refer to any child struggling at school.

As a result of the broadening of this definition, many children are being diagnosed as dyslexic, and while some programmes exist to help them, many parents struggle to come up with positive ways to help their children.

As a behavioural optometrist for nearly 30 years, I see children diagnosed as dyslexic every day, and I see the confusion and frustration in their parent’s eyes every day too! Seems like there is no shortage of professionals ready to diagnose the condition, but very few offer anything of substance other than a label and instructions like, “Sit at the front of the class and do remedial reading with them.”

My job and indeed my passion is to offer a valid alternative to a simple label, a glossy report and a few, simple instructions.

I want to see kids improve in their reading, writing and spelling and I will stop at nothing to help them!

So here are a few thoughts about the various dyslexia treatment methods used to help children with dyslexia…

 

1. Remedial Reading as Dyslexia Treatment

This is, of course, an essential part of helping children, but most often it is a frustrating exercise for parents, teachers and especially the students. Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing, over and over, expecting a different result. Based on this definition, reading support is insanity!

The hope is that, doing what the child hates (and is bad at) over and over again, we will suddenly, one day, magically see an improvement in reading. Often doesn’t happen, or if it does it takes a long while to see this increase.

Now, reading help plays a big part in overcoming dyslexia, but not on its own. When used with some of the later methods the results can be absolutely stunning, so don’t write your teachers and reading tutors off just yet!

2. Drugs as Dyslexia Treatment

Medicating children is never one of my favourite directions, but many paediatricians hand out Ritalin or Dexamphetamine like Ventolin for an asthmatic. It may decrease hyperactivity and sometimes even increase concentration, but frequently it does not result in learning improvement for dyslexics.

3. Irlen Lenses for Dyslexia Treatmen

The use of coloured lenses for dyslexia is frequently touted as a cure, but I would have to say that, from what I have seen in clinical practice over the last 30 years, the jury is still out as to the actual effectiveness of the treatment.

A lot of anecdotal evidence exists, but little in the way of scientific backing. My opinion is that the condition, called scotopic sensitivity, does exist and that the colours can help some children. However, they are grossly overpriced and grossly over-prescribed, with one teacher recently reporting that of the 4 kids in her class with Irlen lenses, only one had show increased concentration, which had quickly waned.

Certainly the claims of coloured lenses curing dyslexia are exaggerated, and given the price of the treatment someone somewhere is making a lot of money from dyslexics!

 

4. Conventional Optometry

Let me make this clear, I am an Optometrist, but a very unconventional one! Standard Optometrists test children, but their criteria for diagnosing and treating dyslexics is very narrow. Essentially, a distance test is done to see if they are longsighted, short sighted or astigmatic to a large degree. If they are not, parents are told that their child’s eyes are 20/20, which is Optometry-speak for fine, and their dyslexia cannot be helped.

I long ago discarded this way of diagnosing in favour of something that actually works!

 

5. Behavioural Optometry in Dyslexia Treatment

As a behavioural optometrist, I want to do more when examining a dyslexic child. I will test distance like a regular Optometrist, but also do many tests at the near point, the place where the child actually reads and writes. Many times I find that despite a child not being longsighted, their focus and eye teaming abilities are stressed and struggling. When I find this, clear lenses can be prescribed to help the child concentrate and begin to improve in their learning.

Do these glasses cure dyslexia? Are they the “magic bullet” and the answer to every parent’s prayers? No hey are not, but in over 80% of cases I have seen it is part, and often a significant part of the dyslexia story.

My next step is to examine a child’s visual skills, which are always lacking in children diagnosed with dyslexia. I can use vision therapy to enhance these, and have successfully done so for hundreds of so-called dyslexics. The therapy takes time and commitment, but at least it is something parents can do which has a 100% chance of help to at least some degree.

 

I believe that the best hope for diagnosed dyslexics is to combine behavioural optometry with remedial reading, and in doing this I have seen incredible results over a 6-9 month period.

So if you suspect that your child might be dyslexic, or even if they already have the label, I recommend getting a comprehensive behavioural optometry examination before you do anything else to try and help your child!

 

Best eye test for children on the Sunshine CoastIf you have a child you may be looking for the best eye test for children in your area.  Before we consider this, we need to recognize that children are not miniature adults, but rather need to be tested with the right instruments in a way that is designed exclusively for their eyes, while it centers on how they use their eyes in the classroom.

Most Sunshine Coast optometrists are great at testing adults and looking for ocular disease, but an eye test for kids is a completely different situation.  Kids don’t always process visual information the same as adults and their method of dealing with the pressure and stress on their vision is completely different, especially when we consider how much time they currently focus on near tasks like computers, tablets and smart phones!

The right eye test must include the standard tests like measuring their prescription (whether they are farsighted, nearsighted or have astigmatism) and their ocular health, but any eye test for children cannot stop there!

It is vitally important that children see a behavioural optometrist, and make sure that things like the focus, how the eyes team together, how they move across a page, convergence and 3-D perception are measured.  If the child has learning difficulties such as dyslexia, further tests can be done dealing with how the child takes in and processes the information they obtain via vision.  This includes visualization, direction skills, coding and sequencing.

This is why a behavioural optometrist like myself does more in an eye test for kids than any other optometrist, and why I use not only special lenses, frames and glasses but also offer exclusive, specialized exercises called vision therapy to help them, which centers on learning.

So on the Sunshine Coast or anywhere else, the best eye test for children may not necessarily be the nearest!  My patients travel from far and wide to have their vision exam, because they know that I will work hard to offer them ways to treat their presenting problems, while helping them save money on the frames and glasses we offer. This is especially true for learning disabilities where I use special techniques that centers a child’s specific vision needs when learning, and also in myopia or short sightedness treatment, where keeping children out of full time glasses is a priority.

So if you care for your child, don’t just get a regular vision exam or check up!  Visit a family behavioural optometrist and get the best eye test for children in your area.

behavioural optometryYou may be wondering what behavioural optometry is and what it can offer you as a parent for your child.

Behavioural Optometry is a mode of practice which seeks to go beyond the simple ability to see, helping patients to understand and interpret information in a holistic way.   It is sometimes called developmental optometry because of its association with children and developing vision.

Behavioural Optometry was once viewed by traditional Optometry as being somewhere between reading tea leaves and reading palms!  When I started behavioural practice 25 years ago, I felt like my fellow Optometrists saw me as weird and strange, but much has changed since then.

The Rise of Behavioural Optometry

Now traditional Optometrists from across my area send me the children they do not understand or feel they cannot help!  In my area of the Sunshine Coast Behavioural Optometry is being embraced by traditional practitioners and recognized for what it is, a specific specialty or discipline within our profession which can provide real answers to children struggling at school.

Scientific studies are now finding results which support this powerful mode of Optometry, further enhancing its credibility within the profession.

Yet it does not stop there!  As a Behavioural Optometrist, I can now supply answers for many patients and many conditions, notably the efforts we are pursuing to stop the progression of short sightedness or myopia.  This means that we don’t have to sit by and watch our children’s prescriptions get stronger and their lenses thicker through the years!  Sometimes we can even reverse it, and the principles we build such treatment on are based upon longstanding Behavioural Optometry premises.

Another area which works well is in the treatment of turned eyes and lazy eyes, where traditional Optometry holds very few answers and a lot of frustration.  Helping the eyes to begin functioning together effectively is part of what we can now do as Behavioural Practitioners.

However, the real power and attraction of this discipline is in the area of learning disabilities, where we can not only increase concentration and

So now is the time when this branch of the profession is coming into it’s own!

There is a valid and powerful tool that can be used to help children with learning disabilities, turned eyes, lazy eyes and increasing short sightedness, and this tool is called Behavioural Optometry!