Could Vision Therapy Help Your Kid With Learning Challenges?

eye checked

Every child is so incredibly different and has their own set of challenges and things that they excel at. If you have a little one who has been faced with the obstacle of focusing while in school, with learning and behavior problems, too, vision therapy just might be the answer to solving all of those problems.

We've all been there: those moments when we get the dreaded phone call home from school. It's awful, because as parents, we send our kids to school with the best intentions for them and do our very best to instill good behavior that transitions to the classroom every day. But everything doesn't always go as planned. If phone calls home on the reg are something you're experiencing as a parent, there might be a solution within vision therapy that you should look into.

Today's Parent shared the story of a little girl named Alicia, whose mother, Nadine Pyatt, was experiencing just this. “I thought for sure we were dealing with ADHD,” she shared. So she booked an appointment with their regular doctor, but after a visit to the family's optometrist, Kiran Ramesh, she ended up seeking treatment on a completely different path by checking out vision therapy (or neuro-visual therapy), at her suggestion.

“Vision therapy is a set of exercises that we do to help to retrain the brain and the eyes on how to communicate better,” she says.

The difference between this and a regular eye exam is that while typical eye exams check eyesight, a neuro-visual assessment will look deeper into the visual system. They will examine things like how well the eyes focus together and whether they are pointing to the same place at the same time - which makes a huge impact on how a child is able to focus in school.

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People who have suffered strokes, athletes and people who have had concussions are known to have had success with vision therapy, too - which cost $5,000 for 45 weeks of therapy.

child at eye doctor
Credit: iStock / Sladic

“We don’t claim to treat ADHD, none of us optometrists would ever say that,” says Rameh. But, so many of the same symptoms of ADHD such as trouble moving their eyes from far to near, or across a page, attention, and behavior issues are similar to those with an underdeveloped visual system. “These kids are all over the place, they are using their hands a lot, they’re very tactile. They are trying to use their other senses to take control, because their visual system isn’t working.” She shares that once these underlying visual problems are treated, many parents find their kids don’t act out as much.

On the flipside, you might have trouble finding doctors who will recommend vision therapy to treat things like ADHD. If you are looking to go down the path of vision therapy, you may have to seek out a behavioral optometrist, or someone with extra training in this area.

For Alicia, both her and her parents noticed a shift in things once she reached the 18 or 19-week milestone with her own vision therapy. “She was a different kid,” her mom said and is now at the top of her class in second grade.

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