The ‘innocence of childhood’ is a term often used to describe a child’s unique and uncluttered view of life. Yet their vision of the world is based on learning skills which embrace the ability to identify, interpret and understand what they see.
When it is not working properly, a child’s visual system can cause learning problems. Blaming your child’s ‘memory’, ‘attention span’ or ‘intelligence’ for learning difficulties may be unfair when the problem may be simply due to an inability to recognise what is seen.
Good vision involves many different vision skills which must work together to enable your child not only to see clearly but also to understand what he or she sees.
If your child’s visual skills such as focusing, following moving objects, aiming, turning both eyes together, judging distances, and other abilities are faulty, the strain on his or her capacity to understand information may be such that they can absorb only a portion of the amount of information being received.
It is a little like trying to do two things at once; both tasks tend to suffer. A child’s ability to learn from what it sees is reduced when the effort to see clearly involves too much effort and mental energy.
Vision therapy using the ‘The ALC’ technology strengthens the link between vision and intelligence. Through the use of the ‘LASD machine’ stimulating the visual cortex of the brain, various eye exercises encouraging binocular vision and a remedial homework package, this treatment helps patients develop their potential to learn. Inefficient visual habits are changed into new behaviour patterns by replacing old habits with more efficient vision techniques.
Tracking Movements: are used when the eyes follow a moving object such as a ball in flight or vehicles in traffic. Children who frequently lose their place while reading, or who have difficulty in catching a ball while playing sport, may have poorly developed eye movement skills.
Depth Perception: This is the ability to determine relative distance in tasks such as hitting a ball or stopping a bicycle within a certain distance.
Side Vision: Peripheral or side vision is the ability to see and interpret what is happening to the sides of the field of vision while looking straight ahead. Poor side vision can lead to crooked and messy writing because the child learning to write cannot see the line on either side of the point at which he or she is writing.
Convergence: In order to see clearly and without confusion, both eyes must be aimed precisely at objects the child is trying to see. Unfortunately, not everyone develops this ability in childhood and inaccurate alignment of the eyes can result in visual fatigue, blurred vision, poor depth judgement, sore eyes, headache and mental fatigue.
Eye-hand Coordination: This is a skill in which the brain guides the movement of hands based on the information it receives from the visual system. For example this ability is important when tracing a line with a pencil or throwing a ball against a wall and catching it again. Eye-hand coordination also is important in most other sports and when moving about as in bike riding and running.
An important part of any screening program is the need for an observant parent or teacher who watches for symptoms of vision problems, particularly while the child’s reading.
Be alert for symptoms:
Symptoms to watch for include losing the place while reading, using a finger to maintain the place while reading, omitting or confusing small words while reading, reversing letters or words when reading, excessive head movements, turning or tilting the head to use only one eye, avoiding close work or holding reading material closer than normal.
Once children master new visual skills during this treatment, they can utilise the energy previously used is trying to see clearly for the actual learning process. Since their vision is less strained their mind is better able to focus on visual tasks.
Many children’s common vision problems are usually detected in routine school check-ups, but other problems may exist which are not so easily identified. These problems are the result of the eyes not teaming together well or the visual system functioning inefficiently. An assessment at the ALC will check for these common visual problems that children may suffer from:
* Clear distance (visual acuity):
Children should be able to see distant objects (more than six metres away) clearly and sharply. Sharpness of vision or visual acuity is measured using the familiar letter chart.
* Change in focus:
A child must be able to change focus from distance to close objects and back again and see both areas clearly. The ability to change focus is called accommodation, and it should be quick and effortless. An example is when a child must look quickly from the board to a book on the desk and back again, rapidly changing accommodation each time.
* Eye Movements:
There are two main types of eye movements which require the eyes to work together as a team. The first type is the quick and accurate movement used, for example when the eyes move from one word to another while reading. The second is known as tracking and should be smooth and accurate.
* Fixation (aiming the eyes):
Fixation is the ability to point or aim the eyes exactly at an object at the same time. If the eyes do not point precisely at the same object the brain must interpret a slightly different image from each eye. In severe cases of poor fixation, double vision can result. In most cases, this unsteady fixation, as found with dyslexics, can cause headaches, tiredness, poor concentration and phonological processing issues.
Poor sitting posture and position or facial distortions while reading such as frowning, excessive blinking, scowling or squinting also indicate the child may have vision problems. A visual assessment at the ALC will look at the functioning of the eyes and will determine if this unique treatment is recommended.
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