Vision Therapy for Children with Vision Difficulties
We all know that a child's development can vary immensely from child to child. What it is perhaps not as well known that vision also develops! This also means that vision can be trained or learned through appropriate structured vision therapy.
Unfortunately, like all skills and for various reasons, there is sometimes a delay in a child’s course of development of their visual skills. These delays can cause problems with a child's learning ability. In fact, in some cases, children are not visually ready to read until well after 5 or 6 years of age.
Your child's vision may be clear enough but, they may not have developed the appropriate visual skills for reading. When reading, it is necessary for a child to keep their place along a line of text (tracking skills) as well as keeping the page in focus at the same time (focussing skills). A child with tracking or focussing difficulties is therefore more likely to have difficulty with reading.
To read left to right partly requires tracking skills but also involves visual-spatial skills. It is important to understand that reading from left to right is actually a culturally and educationally imposed requirement. In many cultures, reading is vertically arranged or in some cases, is arranged from right to left. A child who has not understood or adequately organised the necessary aspects of visual spatial skills will most likely have difficulty with learning to read.
The level of demands on visual skills required for reading increases throughout a child's learning years.
Primary visual skills required for early readers are listed below:
- Tracking and Saccades
Scanning from letter to letter, word to word, looking ahead and predicting text, moving from one line to the next.
- Visual Memory
Skills required for word recognition and copying tasks, for example in writing, spelling and reading.
- Short Term Visual Memory
Recalling information presented quickly.
Recognising the order of number or letters in words. Left to right progression when reading and writing.
- Visual Discrimination
Recognising subtle visual differences, ie between letters (b/d) and words (was/saw or big/dig), reducing reversals and confusion and thus improving overall recognition. Reversals are common in younger children. However, if a child has persisting reversal issues a Behavioural Optometric assessment should be considered to see if Vision Therapy can assist.
- Focusing Skills
The ability to maintain clear focus at a particular point (a word on a page) and the ability to rapidly change focus from one point to another (copying from the board to the book).