Vision 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.