Vision and Learning
Recently I had an eight-year-old boy, come to see me. The first clue to where his difficulties may lie were shown when he started to draw a picture and his nose was virtually touching the paper. I then did some eye-tracking activities and found his vision was blurry. Added to this, his inability to see the text I was expecting him to read and I knew he needed to see a behavioural optometrist ASAP.
Just because a child passes the school vision testing doesn’t mean they can see as they should for learning. Reading and writing both require the eyes to track across the page, distinguish between foreground and background and the ability to adjust from long distance to close up automatically.
Another example of when the eyes are not working efficiently was a ten-year-old boy, starting at face to face school. He was given exercise books with pale blue lines and a light pink margin. He had previously only ever worked on dark black lines so immediately started ruling his own lines on top of those in the exercise book with a pen. The teacher immediately asked, “what on earth are you doing?”. The child’s response was “I can’t see those lines”. Another sign for this child was when he walked along a beam he had to watch his feet and fell off the beam when he couldn’t see his feet.
Just last year I sent most of the five year olds I was teaching to a behavioural optometrist and more than 30% of my class needed glasses. A couple of children were examined but not given glasses, much to the sadness of one little boy who wanted them. He did however need assistance to improve his vision. Apparently our eyes are supposed to stay in alignment when we sleep but for this child his eyes fell to the side he slept on and then took a long time to realign the next day.
The earlier we can identify any vision problems the less they will negatively impact a child’s learning and self-esteem. The eyes also have to work with the vestibular system and the audio system both contained within the ear but I will leave this for a future blog.
In the mean-time, look out for each other and enjoy all the time you can with your family.