Special Needs

An in-depth visual assessment is critical for patients with special needs. We focus on making the experience most effective, yet comfortable.

Vision problems can have a significant impact on the life of a child with special needs, Autism (ASD), Down Syndrome (DS), Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and other developmental delays. Though vision problems are common in this population, they often go undiagnosed and can affect the development of their visual skills.

When vision is not functioning properly, it will cause or even exacerbate certain behavior, interfere with reading and learning performance, and impact daily routine tasks. A dysfunctional visual system can present itself with symptoms that may not seem linked or related to the eyes. These symptoms can mirror the symptoms of other specific diagnoses and, therefore, not be attributed to a vision dysfunction.

Below are common symptoms of a vision problem that indicates the need for a functional vision exam with a Developmental Optometrist:

  • Omits, skips, rereads words or lines when reading

  • Poor reading comprehension

  • Tilts head/closes one eye when reading

  • Poor attention and difficulty concentrating

  • Dislikes or avoids near work

  • Difficulty copying from board

  • One eye turns in or out (Strabismus)

  • ​​​​​​​Motion sickness

  • Unable to listen and look at same time

  • Poor eye contact

  • Poor handwriting, writes uphill or downhill

  • Visual perceptual problems

  • Clumsy or prone to tripping

  • Reduced sports performance

  • Avoids ball sports or playgrounds

Skills Necessary for Efficient Visual Function

Visual Acuity

Oftentimes, when a child sees clearly with one eye, but the other eye sees blurry, parents may not be able to detect a problem. An undiagnosed deficit in visual acuity can lead to poor school and sports performance. It also requires more effort to use the visual system leading to avoidance and frustration in completing daily tasks.

Eye Tracking

Tracking is the ability to move the eyes from point to point when reading, while processing the information at the same time. When the eyes don’t track efficiently for visual tasks, letters, numbers, and text can look jumbled up and, therefore, get mixed up. This makes it difficult to sustain attention or focus on a task.

Eye Teaming

If the eyes are unable to work together efficiently as a team, they are at risk of causing eye misalignment, or even an eye turn. This leads to difficulty with sustaining attention which impacts school and sports performance.

Depth Perception

Being able to judge depth accurately is important for many life skills including driving. When depth perception is impaired due to poor eye alignment, the visual system struggles to orient the body in space. This results in dislike or avoidance of ball sports and playgrounds.

Available Treatment Options

Prism Lenses

These special types of lenses support the performance of the visual system by moving light to a position most comfortable for the eyes which relieves visual stress. They may further support the development of binocular vision while the patient is engaged in other therapies.

SHAW Lenses

These unique iseikonic (image balancing) lenses relieve visual stress induced by prescriptions that are significantly different between the two eyes. By equalizing the image size that the brain is receiving from both eyes while using SHAW lenses we are effectively building binocular function.

Binasal Occlusion

This form of partial occlusion often replaces the need for patching to allow for enhanced peripheral awareness and prevention of cross fixation in esotropic (crossed eye) patients. It is very well tolerated by the patient and is an effective adjunct therapy.

Vision Therapy

An effective program to enhance and improve the visual function. It is fully customized to each patient’s needs and is designed to enhance and strengthen visual skills. This allows the child’s visual system to interpret visual input with increased accuracy and ease.

Treatment Outcomes

Treatments that may include special eyeglass prescriptions or vision therapy can facilitate reading and learning performance, minimize the challenges that both parents and children face daily, and improve the success of other interventions. With improvements in their visual function, these children will be given a greater chance to achieve what their families may have thought would never be possible.

Schedule Today

​​​​​​​To experience the difference in eyecare for your child, schedule an appointment today.

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