Learning to read is a developmental milestone that parents look forward to – but what do you do if your child is struggling? Children that have difficulty reading and writing (beyond what is age-appropriate) may need treatment for one or more problems that could be plaguing them. It usually ends up being an issue with their vision, or a disorder like dyslexia, ADD, or ADHD. The Center for Vision Development, an Austin vision center, can help to diagnose your child and provide or recommend the best action plan to overcome the problem.
The first step is obtaining a proper diagnosis by visiting your child’s optometrist and having them complete a comprehensive visual evaluation including testing for visual tracking, focusing, eye teaming, and visual processing skills. If your child needs glasses, this may provide some assistance but usually reading problems are due to less obvious visual disorders. These other visual problems, such as crossed eyes, lazy eyes, visual focusing, and visual tracking deficits, may benefit more from vision therapy.
Those seeking vision therapy and vision care in Austin can make an appointment with Dr. Smith or Dr. Bailey at the Austin Vision Therapy Center which is part of The Center for Vision Development. Not all optometrists offer the comprehensive vision therapy treatment programs that Dr. Smith and Dr. Bailey provide so those outside the Austin area may want to contact them for references to other reputable practices. Once vision problems are identified or ruled out, the proper course of action can be taken. The doctors at The Center for Vision Development and Austin Vision Therapy Center work with a number of professionals that help children with learning disabilities and dyslexia including neurologists, psychologists, academic language therapists, and occupational therapists. With proper treatment your child’s ability to read and write should vastly improve.
Children without traditional vision problems can still struggle with their reading and language skills. This may be due to a diagnosis of either dyslexia, ADD, or ADHD. Many are familiar with dyslexia, the learning disorder wherein the brain has trouble processing word distinction, spelling, and decoding of symbols like letters and numbers. With dyslexia, children struggle with connecting the letters they see to the sounds that are associated with those letters. However, what most people don’t realize is that reading and spelling both require good visualization and visual memory skills so if those skills are not fully developed children can struggle whether or not they have dyslexia. Until the visual skills are fully evaluated, it is difficult to know if a child truly has dyslexia. Visual processing disorders are often misdiagnosed as dyslexia and learning disabilities.
If the child truly does have dyslexia, it’s not a sign of low intelligence or laziness. In fact, many dyslexic children try extremely hard, and are very smart. With a proper training regime your child will learn new ways of recognizing letters, sounds, and word fragments. Some children will need lifelong tutoring, or just additional time on tests and homework. But, when addressed, this common condition will not be a permanent hindrance to your child’s academic success.
ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) are also very common among children. Like dyslexia, they are not indicators of low intelligence or lack of effort. Children with these disorders are physically and mentally unable to concentrate for long periods of time, stay focused on a particular task, or maintain appropriate activity levels throughout the day. They might seem like they are just hyper and out of control, but their brains are trying very hard to process all of the stimuli constantly being received. Many times there are underlying visual focusing disorders that can masquerade as ADD because the child presents with the same type of symptoms. Anytime ADD or ADHD is suspected, hidden visual disorders should be ruled out.
Reading and writing requires one to focus their eyes on the page or screen for longer periods than some ADD and ADHD children can handle. That is why it is so important to diagnose any visual focusing problems. Their eyes, brain, and body don’t communicate with each other as well as they should, making simple tasks like reading a full page very difficult. Vision therapy, diet modifications, nutritional supplementation, and various other therapies can all do wonders for the disorder, and therefore improve performance to appropriate levels for your child’s age and grade. Pharmaceutical medications with negative side effects may be avoided once the proper diagnosis is made.
If you have questions about whether your child has a vision problem, learning disability, or attention disorder, contact The Center for Vision Development for the best vision care in Austin. Your child will rely heavily on their reading and writing skills as they progress through life, so concerns should be addressed as early as possible. Luckily there are plenty of treatment options and methods to try that will help them to become avid readers in little time. The good news is that you can save years of struggling with early identification and treatment. Those seeking Austin eye care should call or visit The Center for Vision Development for more information.