Once again mainstream medical specialists have launched their “once a decade” attack on Vision Therapy and Behavioral Optometry. They are using the internet news sites to lead an assault on a scientifically supported and well established treatment option for children with learning disabilities, claiming it has no science behind it at all, and this has been propagated across learning blogs as if it were gospel truth.
The fact is, as many parents and children with learning disabilities can attest, the right vision therapy can and does work for many children with learning disabilities! For the forth time in four decades, the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, and American Association of Certified Orthopedists have combined their efforts to publish this notion in the guise of public interest.
Their view is limited, slanted and offers little hope to the parents of children with learning disabilities other then “keep pounding away at reading!”. The fact is, they are re-hashing a previous argument in the guise that it is a break through statement. This obviously biased joint statement has been rebutted, point by point, by The American Optometric Association and the American Academy of Optometry. A point-by-point rebuttal of the misleading information intended to discredit optometric vision therapy was published by the American Optometric Association in its journal, Optometry. (Bowan MD, 2002).
Could it be that groups trumpeting the use of powerful drugs and psychotherapy are threatened by a small group of practitioners who are getting results using a non-invasive, non-drug, relatively cheap alternative?
Now, please do not read this incorrectly. I am not saying that vision therapy can cure every ill known to man, or every case of dyslexia in the world, but this I can tell you, having worked for so long in the field…
There are a significant number of children with learning disabilities who have underdeveloped visual skills. I am not saying sight, because they all see. I am taking about how the eyes work together, and how the brains interprets and understands visual information that comes in through the eyes.
Most conservative medical practitioners look at ONLY these areas:
1.Can the child see? (Their visual acuity, as represented by figures like 20/20)
2.Is there any disease present? In children, almost always there is none.
3.Is the child long sighted, short sighted or astigmatic, in an amount that we judge to be over the required level of significance? Often there is a significant amount of long sight in children with learning disabilities, but we argue about what is actually significant! My experience is that arbitrary figures are exactly that: arbitrary. So, one child will handle a large amount of long sight, while another will fail to cope with a far smaller amount. We are human, after all, not robots!
4.Can the child converge? Can they turn their eyes in to keep the print single, and most of them can.
Where I differ is that, in addition to the above measures, I like to go beyond these to examine exactly HOW children with learning disabilities process information and use it, in real ways and in real situations.
So, in addition to the above, we also look at
1. Eye movements- which help children flow in their reading and stops them misreading words or skipping lines, and it also helps in ball sports.
2. Focus and Eye Coordination- which helps children concentrate and apply themselves to their school work.
3. Visualization and Recall- which helps children to effectively remember sight words and spelling, giving them a large vocabulary to help them to read.
4. Directionality- which helps children with learning disabilities overcome reversals, writing letters back to front.
5. Cross Patterning- which allows children to use both sides of their brain efficiently.
6. Other developmental areas, including coding, sequencing, fine and gross motor, etc.
These are not innate abilities, and they are not refractive errors. These are skills, and the need to be learned in order for children to learn to read, write and spell effectively.
And, they can be trained, altered and enhanced in simple, non-surgery, non-drug, non-colored lens ways. I have spend years developing a series of therapies that actually work, and instead of the hundreds and thousands of dollars most learning disability treatments charge, these will cost just over $ 6 a week, for 6-8 months of therapy.
But is it rubbish? Am I profiteering from the unfortunate parents of children with learning disabilities. Hundreds of changed children who have conquered their learning disabilities with my specially designed Vision Therapy say I am not, as do their satisfied parents.
But this is not a scientific rebuttal of this vicious attack on my profession. I simply cannot be bothered, and I’m too busy treating real children with learning disabilities. However, I can direct you to a place that can give you real science, if that is what you are into.
In the mean time, let the academics slug it out and let’s get on with the business of helping these children who struggle with learning disabilities. And if you are the parent of a child with learning disabilities, and you are not sure who to believe, why not take a $ 6 a week chance on a guaranteed Vision Therapy program you can do in your own home and check out our site for more information. I believe, after all the arguments are over, that your child is worth it.