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

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.

vision therapy for childrenVision therapy for children has long been looked to as a possible solution to learning disabilities.  However, there are various types of vision training for children, some of which are more traditional and others which are cutting new ground in their development.  Forward thinking behavioural optometrists are finding that employing both of these styles of tasks is seeing major improvements in kids with learning disabilities.

Traditional Vision Therapy for Children

Traditional treatment for the eyes and vision tends to centre on techniques that improve measurable characteristics of the eyes in the consulting room rather than the brain.  These may have a positive effect on a child’s ability to learn, but at times they may not directly correlate to an improvement in how they learn in the classroom.

Included in these types of vision therapies are focus, eye coordination, convergence and some eye movement training, which certainly can help but may not necessarily be translated into increased school performance.  That is not to say that they do not have value, and in optometry terms we can actually measure improvement, but the point is that these types of eye exercises may not necessarily improve results.

A New Breed of Vision Therapy for Children

There is a fresh and exciting change in visual therapies for kids which are aiming to have a more direct effect on how they learn rather than a change in their eyes alone.  These new training ideas revolve around techniques which they use directly in their learning experience, and they are tailor made for children with learning disabilities.

These newer treatments target things like eye movements, to improve the flow and expression of reading, visualization, to increase the ability of children to learn new spelling words and other developmental areas such as coding, sequencing and directionality.

This type of program for children is yielding real results by influencing both vision and the brain and increasing the classroom performance because they are developing or coaching the actual skills kids need to perform well in their education.

Combining Both Gives Children the Best Vision Therapy

Simply training visual skills may help a child to perform better, but if the more traditional aspects of therapies are ignored, the fundamental vision problem will limit improvement.  Therefore, the best approach is to combine both aspects of the treatment for children so as to gain maximum improvement for the eyes both in the optometry office and the classroom.

I believe that any child struggling to learn needs to have a complete behavioural optometry assessment to ensure that any underlying visual problems are dealt with.  Treatment of such problems might include reading lenses or the more traditional vision therapy for children.

Beyond this, the newer style of therapies for kids could hold the key for real and sustained improvement.  By targeting the skills they use in the classroom, we are able to quickly develop the tools a child needs to learn and improve rapidly.

And after all, this is what most parents want.  A change in the optometry office is good, but an improvement in school results is what matters most, and this can definitely be helped by using the right vision therapy for children.

The effectiveness of home vision therapy for the treatment of learning disabilities is often debated by professionals, but as someone who has worked with learning disabilities for over 20 years, I am absolutely convinced of the power that home vision therapy offers to help the frustrated and disillusioned parents of a struggling child!

What Is Home Vision Therapy?

Home Vision Therapy is the term given to a series of vision training exercises that are able to be adequately performed at home by parents.  With careful and complete instruction, many vision exercises can be performed by parents at home, with the big advantage that they can be done every day rather than making a special trip into the behavioral optometrist, orthoptist, occupational therapist or the like.

The power of doing a task every day rather than once or twice a week has been well documented, with the accumulative effect of daily exercises being the major reason for home vision therapy.  The big question is, can the parents do what the professional can?  If the exercises are well thought out and explained, in many cases the answer is, “Yes”!

How Can Home Vision Therapy Help?

Home Vision Therapy is more effective in certain areas of vision training than in others.  Some types of training require a higher level of skill, observation or equipment that the parent simply does not have, and professionals have paid thousands of dollars to obtain the equipment and training necessary to perform these tasks.  Other tasks, however, are a lot easier to incorporate into a home vision therapy program.

The great news is that the types of therapies which are easily performed at home and require equipment most parents have are very often the most effective techniques for improving learning in children struggling to read, write and spell!  It is not easy to incorporate therapies for focus, eye coordination or binocular problems into a home vision therapy program, but visual skills necessary for learning, such as visual memory, sequencing, coding, hand-eye coordination and left-right awareness can easily be performed at home by a parent who has been given concise and detailed instructions.

What is the Most Effective Vision Therapy you can do at Home?

For home vision therapy to be effective it must have certain characteristics.  It must be simple and easily taught to parents.  It must have simple equipment that can be sourced in or around the home at very little expense.  It needs to be clearly and concisely detailed to the parents so that they understand exactly what they need to do, and also what they need to observe in their child as they do the exercises.

Above all, for Home Vision Therapy to be successful it has to be fun for both the children and the adults!  I cannot overemphasize this point because unless there is enjoyment the chances of the program being pursued to the end are very small.  In fact, I have had many parents tell me that the activities in my home vision therapy are not only fun, helpful and extremely powerful, but they have also resulted in quality time being spent by parents with the children!  If you can invest time into something that makes sense and is fun, the compliance from children skyrockets and the effectiveness of the program increases accordingly!

So, if carefully arranged and instructed by a skilled professional, Home Vision Therapy can be extremely helpful in the treatment of learning disabilities and offers the advantage of being able to be used every day for maximum effectiveness.

Learning Disabilities DyslexiaLearning disabilities dyslexia and reading problems of various types are on the increase in our classrooms, and teachers are almost powerless to combat this phenomenon!  There is hope for parents, however, because many of those children diagnosed as dyslexics can be helped as this article will outline…

What is the Difference Between Learning Disabilities Dyslexia and Other Reading Problems?

One of the problems you face when considering learning disabilities dyslexia and other reading disorders is that there is often no stable, universally agreed definition for the conditions.  What one expert calls dyslexia, another calls a reading problem, and when you combine them all they add up to learning disabilities!  So, because so many use the term dyslexia, I find it easier when talking to my patients to divide dyslexia into two types: learning disabilities dyslexia and true or brain dysfunction dyslexia.

Dyslexia in its traditional sense, is a much more specific condition than a simple learning disability, involving some form of brain dysfunction and, unlike the other type (learning disabilities dyslexia), it cannot be easily overcome.

True dyslexia occurs in an inner part of the brain and, although some colored lens therapies seem to help in a few cases, dealing with an actual dysfunction within the brain is a very difficult task indeed!

Should You Just Cope with Learning Disabilities Dyslexia?

Unlike the dysfunction mentioned previously, learning disabilities dyslexia is more a dysfunction of the processing of information coming to the child through the visual system, and as such is not a true case of dyslexia at all.  The brain is fine, but the processing and understanding of visual input is the culprit.  This is not a true dyslexia, but is often diagnosed by educationists as dyslexia.

The really great news is that this type of problem can be aided by easy to apply techniques.  In most of these cases, the visual skills that most children have developed to help them process information and interpret and understand their reading material are underdeveloped, and this is great news for parents because, unlike traditional dyslexia or word blindness, we can easily do something about this!

So, unlike brain dysfunction dyslexia, learning disabilities dyslexia can be positively influenced by anything which can improve or develop the visual skills needed when reading, thereby greatly improving reading ability.

This is not theory, it is fact because I have worked for over 25 years overcoming learning disabilities dyslexia which others have said is something the child must simply learn to cope with!  The fact is that skills like eye tracking, focusing, eye coordination, visual memory, sequencing, laterality coding and the like can be easily improved using special techniques.

Vision Therapy Will Help Learning Disabilities and Dyslexia?

Using Vision Therapy, which is targeted vision exercises and activities (many in the form of games), we can actually see real and measurable improvement in a child’s reading ability.  And this can be done at a fraction of the cost that many other types of learning disabilities treatment cost, from the comfort of your own home!

So check out the best vision therapy online for a cost effective and powerful way of improving your child’s reading ability and learning problems.  If your child has been diagnosed with learning disabilities dyslexia or reading problems, there is a way you can help them today!

vision therapy exercisesVision therapy exercises are often thought of as being eye exercises, yet they go far beyond the scope of traditional therapies for the eyes.  Eye exercises are often criticized as being hard work, laborious and ineffective when it comes to children with learning difficulties, and while these criticisms certainly hold true for most eye therapies they are not true for vision therapy exercises.

The Difference between Eye Exercises and Vision Therapy Exercises

The basic premise of vision training is that the eyes are attached to the brain.  Therefore, while we may incorporate some aspects of traditional eye exercises, we need to address the relationship between the eyes and the brain.

While older eye exercises supposedly try to strengthen muscles or readdress imbalances in the muscles, our intensive vision therapy goes beyond this as it attempts to modify what the brain understands from input from the vision system.  This opens the scope for helping children interpret and understand what they see, not just getting the eyes to see it, and so we can investigate and train a far wider range of skills in a child with learning disabilities.

What Can Vision Therapy Train?

Vision training has the ability to sharpen a large number of skills that are required by children to read, write and spell effectively.  While some more traditional treatment is incorporated, notably those which promote eye coordination and focusing, the greater emphasis is placed on vision exercises which directly impact on a child’s visual skills and hence school performance.

So what are the areas which these visual therapies train, and how do these have an effect on a child’s ability to learn?  As someone who is designing and applying these ideas for my patients who have problems with how they learn, I am uniquely placed to be able to share exactly what we are targeting and how improving vision and visual performance can influence learning.

1. Focus:  Most kids use this in two main ways.  They must be able to change focus quickly and accurately, especially for tasks like copying off the board, and most importantly they need to be able to sustain it over a period of time, enabling them to concentrate for longer without getting sore or tired eyes, headaches or being distracted.

2. Eye Teaming:  We have two eyes, and they need to work as a team, both when they are relaxed looking at a distant object, and especially when they are converged when viewing a book or computer.  If they fight one another this causes stress on the vision system and symptoms like double vision, suppressing one eye and reduced concentration on near work.

These are the more traditional treatment techniques that we incorporate into our vision training, but the true power of this program comes when we address the next areas…

3. Eye Movements or Tracking:  To read, kids must move their gaze across the page and confidently know that they are pointing to the next word in order to read well.  Inaccuracies in this skill cause them to misread words, skip words, skip lines or lose their place, and this skill responds extremely well to the right training.

4. Visualization or Visual Memory:  This skill is the very building block that we use to remember spelling words, and without it kids struggle to learn spelling, and regularly misspell words.  It is loads of fun to train, responds very well to our training methods and enables them to learn vast amounts of words quickly and easily, exploding their vocabulary by hundreds of words.  Learn this skill and spelling becomes easy!

5. Laterality and Directionality: Training these skills with our system reprograms the special map in a child’s mind and rapidly teaches them rights and lefts.  This usually entirely eliminates letter reversals, even in young children.

6. Eye-Hand Coordination and Bilaterality Training:  Using fun gross and fine motor activities we can help kids to have greater control of their pencil when they are writing, as well as improving their general coordination for sports and other activities.

7. Other Skills:  Our vision training also can also provide treatment for developmental deficiencies in areas like sequencing, coding, spacial awareness and figure-ground, all of which add essential skills to a child and help them improve in their reading, writing and spelling.

Programs we have designed are targeting the ability of children to learn effectively by training and improving their visual skills, and we have had an amazing success rate with our patients.  This is because vision therapy exercises are far more than traditional eye exercises, they are training kids for a lifetime of learning!

vision therapy at homeHave you ever thought about doing vision therapy at home?  If you have a child struggling with learning disabilities then you may have thought about attempting some sort of vision therapy at home, but perhaps you are not sure where to start.

As a behavioural optometrist I can assure you that doing vision therapy at home actually works.  I have seen hundreds of patients achieve excellent results after several months of therapy, improving their reading, writing and spelling abilities dramatically.  I have also seen parents start programs with all good intentions only to fade out, stop doing the exercises and give up on their vision therapy at home.  It cuts both ways at times!

Doing Vision Therapy at Home Requires the Right Psychology

I am no psychologist, but because vision therapy at home is often a long process of 6 to 8 months, clearly there are some psychological factors which can help you complete the program.

Attempting a course of vision therapy at home requires motivation, consistency and a cooperative child, but most parents indicate that their child with learning difficulties is anything but cooperative at homework time!  How do you stay motivated and how do you keep your child coming back for more?

I have designed vision therapy at home to meet these psychological stresses head on, because just writing the therapies is not enough.  My task a behavioural optometrist is to make the journey enjoyable for both parents and children, because working with kids yields better results than working against them.

Effective Home Vision Therapy Needs These Characteristics

1. Consistency: To be effective, vision therapy at home must be consistent.  In our case we ask parent to commit 20 minutes a day every school day, so it ties in nicely with homework.  We also recognize that parents lead busy lives, so we automatically send a series of emails to remind them to stay on track.  Many parents have told me that, but for the emails, they would have been swamped and failed their child.

2. Achievement:  To be effective vision therapy at home has to encourage both the child and the parents that they are getting somewhere and achieving some sort of result.  For this reason we must start very simply, with easy tasks that the child finishes and says, “Hey, I got that right, didn’t I?”  As the tasks become slowly more difficult the child can look back on their past achievements and be motivated to take on the new tasks.  Remember, most kids with learning difficulties are used to failure and rarely feel they ever get things right at school!

3. Fun:  How do you encourage a child to do a series of tasks?  Make them fun!  Most of my vision therapy at home program consists of games of various sorts, and this motivates the children to try harder, especially if there is a score or time to beat from the previous day!  By making the tasks fun, parents can also enjoy the fun their child is having and everybody wins.  Most therapies you hear about are boring, so they are much harder to get a child to do!

4. Rewards:  Rewards are an important part of vision therapy at home, because I find a carrot is better than a stick for children.  Along the way we send our children small rewards they can download, and this makes the entire journey much more fun!

5. Results:  Above all results are the most important part of vision therapy at home.  It is no good having fun and achieving nothing (which is what many children’s games are like).  Our games are specifically targeting the skills they need to improve their learning, and when the child improves these skills their reading, writing and spelling results go up accordingly.

Training eye movements makes reading smoother, stopping misreads and the skipping of lines.  Improving visualization helps them to absorb spelling words more effectively (that’s why they are called sight words). Training directionality teaches the child special awareness and stops letter reversals.  Training focusing helps them to copy off the board without mistakes.  All of these are helped by the right exercises id they are done consistently over a period of months.

So parents don’t get bored or discouraged about your child with learning disabilities.  Get motivated, get psyched and get your hands on vision therapy at home that is fun, challenging and effective!

Vision and Learning Problems

vision and learningVision and Learning are closely related, with vision being the dominant sense in the classroom and the main way in which new information comes to a child.  Yet it is one of the most frequently overlooked facets of a child’s learning experience!

Behavioural Optometrists believe that vision is an easy and obvious place to start when trying to find help for a child’s learning problems.  Most often, it has very little to do with whether a child can see the print.  The bigger issue is how they take in, process and understand the letters and words they are seeing.

There’s more to Vision and Learning

Most optometrists measure sight, and proclaim a child fit to learn if they can see the print and are not long or short sighted.  I hear phrases like, “My child has 20/20 vision,” which means they can see the words, but can they flow, can they understand and can they actually read?

There is far more to vision and learning than just being able to see.  I see perfectly well, yet I visit a Chinese city and despite a University education, despite a reasonable intelligence and good vision, I cannot understand the signs!  I can’t even try and pronounce them, yet I see them!  Clearly there is more to learning and reading than just seeing!

The fact is I cannot understand Chinese.  I don’t know the code, so the symbols are meaningless to me.  Children with learning disabilities can experience this with the words they try to understand, so a true test for vision and learning must go far beyond just a child’s seeing ability.

A True Test of Vision and Learning

When Behavioural Optometrists like me examine children, we want to go beyond the simple prescription and seeing ability of the child.  We will look at how the child’s visual system balances as they read, how they move their eyes across the page, how they coordinate their eyes as a team and how they understand and interpret the symbols on a page.

Our aim is to examine HOW the child learns, and how they use the visual skills that are essential for good learning.  Now most kids develop these during grade school, but children with learning problems often fail to develop or under develop these skills.  The best news of all is that using a combination of special lenses and targeted eye exercises (vision therapy) we can improve these basic building blocks of vision and learning.

The result is that we can have a significant impact on a child’s learning ability if we perform the right eye tests with your child, and use the right glasses or therapy to help them.

The Eye CU Difference

At Eye CU, we want to go further and help your children, especially if they are struggling with their learning.  We do this because we care, and because we want to improve your child’s ability to learn effectively.  We do it because we are passionate about it.

We do this because we believe there is a strong relationship between vision and learning, and our calling is to maximize the potential of all children, even if they are struggling with learning problems.

convergence insufficiencyConvergence insufficiency has long been linked to learning disabilities by Behavioural Optometrists like myself, but how does it relate to the child who is struggling to learn at school, and what is the mechanism that makes it so important?

What is Convergence Insufficiency and how is it Measured?

Convergence insufficiency is a condition where the convergence mechanism of vision, that is the ability to turn our eyes inwards in order to keep the near target single, is insufficient or underperforming.

This means that, for a distant object, the two eyes work well together, but it is a different story when it comes to looking at a near object such as a computer screen, a book, an ipad or a phone.  In this condition, the two eyes are unable to turn in sufficiently to do this near task, causing symptoms like eye strain, headaches and even double vision.  However, one of the most significant symptoms is poor concentration for reading tasks, and often reading and learning disabilities.

While many Optometrists do not even bother to test for this condition, Behavioural Optometrists spend quite a lot of time investigating this area and examining how it might be affecting learning and school performance.

 

What Happens During Reading?

 

As I have mentioned, convergence insufficiency means that our eyes do not turn in far enough, and have a great tendency to swing out at the earliest opportunity.  When a child is reading, they focus on a word, then they have to break their convergence to move to the next word.

What happens if, when they break and move, they eyes swing out?  Clearly the child has to  converge again onto the new word, and they have to do this for every word, reestablishing convergence time and time again.  This can slow a child’s reading to snail’s pace!

How do we Treat the Condition?

Convergence insufficiency can be treated in either of two ways… using reading glasses (also called support lenses) or using eye exercises.

Support lenses are the most popular way of treating this condition, because it is fast and usually very effective.  It’s simply a case of put the lenses on, and start reading.

Exercise on the other hand, take time and dedication to do, and most children find them boring.  That being said, I will frequently combine the two methods for maximum effectiveness, and we usually get a tremendous response from this type of treatment, especially when combined with other learning disabilities vision therapy techniques.

So if your child is struggling at school and if their learning and especially reading is poor, then a Behavioural Optometrist could hold the key.  Get your child assessed, and ask about the most effective ways to treat Convergence Insufficiency, because this is frequently an easy way to help a child with learning disabilities.