Seeing the Problem Clearly


Is Your Child’s Learning Disability a Misdiagnosis?

While learning occurs through a number of complex and interrelated processes, vision plays a key role.  In fact, according to the American Optometric Association (AOA), roughly 80 percent of learning is visual.  For the school-age child, this includes reading, writing, chalkboards, computers, and other visual learning aids.  As you can imagine, children with vision problems will be negatively affected in the classroom.

Childhood vision disabilities- which consist of poor eye coordination, focusing, tracking, and visual perception- are very common.  Fortunately, many of these issues are easily diagnosed and treated with a comprehensive vision exam.

The bad news is, despite having a sea of resources to check students’ eyesight, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that nearly 2 in 3 children in the United States enter school without completing a single vision screening, let alone a comprehensive vision exam.

Consequently, those with vision disabilities often go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.  When the strain and stress of the affected children’s vision problems begin to cause distracted behavior and struggle in their studies, they are often labeled with learning disabilities.  Some are even prescribed for ADHD medication, written off as “hyperactive” or “slow learners”, and never properly treated.

In addition, many of these children are slow to speak up about their seeing setbacks, either because they are unaware that their vision is different than the other kids or because they are embarrassed.

The simple solution to this sadly overlooked learning obstacle is that every school-aged child should be seen by their local eye doctor at least every two years for a routine exam.  If your child has any of the following symptoms, don’t wait!  It’s time to schedule a comprehensive vision exam for them today:

  • Holding things very close
  • Blurry vision
  • Tired eyes
  • Poor reading comprehension
  • Headaches
  • Excessive head movement when reading
  • Frequently losing their place when reading
  • Skipping lines/using finger to keep place when reading
  • Short attention span
  • Poor spelling skills
  • Poor recall of visually presented material
  • Can respond orally, but not in writing
  • Trouble with math concepts concerning size, magnitude, and position
  • Sloppy handwriting and drawing
  • Not able to stay within the lines
  • Poor copying skills
  • Trouble writing
  • Trouble remembering letters and numbers
  • Trouble learning left versus right
  • Trouble reversing letters and words

For those children who do struggle with troubled vision, a licensed optometrist will be able to diagnose whether the issue is nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism (an eye defect causing distorted images), or some other issue.  Oftentimes, a simple pair of spectacles or contacts will solve their learning woes.  Other children may require treatment of underlying focusing, tracking, or visual perception issues.

It is so important that educators and parents, alike, are aware of these common disabilities, which The Vision Council lists as the fourth most prevalent class of disability in the US.  There is no question that kids who cannot see up to their full potential, will not learn up to their full potential.

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