Vision therapy for children has long been looked to as a possible solution to children’s learning disabilities. However there are various types of vision therapy, ranging from more traditional methods through to ideas which break new ground in their development. Forward thinking behavioural optometrists are finding that employing both of these is seeing major improvements in children with learning disabilities.
Traditional Vision Therapy for Children
Traditional vision therapy tends to centre on techniques that improve measurable characteristics in the consulting room. 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 school performance.
Included in these types of 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 exercises may not necessarily improve school work.
A New Breed of Vision Therapy for Children
There is a fresh and exciting change in vision therapy which is aiming to have a more direct effect on a child’s school performance. These new training ideas revolve around techniques which the child uses directly in their learning experience, and they are tailor made for children with learning disabilities.
These newer techniques 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 vision therapy is yielding real results by increasing the school performance of children because they are developing or coaching the skills children need to perform well in school.
Combining Both Makes the Best Vision Therapy
Simply training visual skills may help a child to perform better in school, but if the more traditional aspects of therapy are ignored, the fundamental visual problem will limit improvement. Therefore, the best approach is to combine both aspects of the vision therapy for children so as to gain maximum improvement both in the optometry office and the classroom.
I believe that any child struggling in school 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 vision therapy for children could hold the key for real and sustained improvement in school. By targeting the skills children use in the classroom, we are able to quickly develop the tools a child needs to learn and improve their school performance.
This is what most parents want. A change in the optometry office is good, but an improvement in school performance is what matters most, and this can definitely be helped by using the right vision therapy for children.