AutismåÊis the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States affecting 1 in every 150 individuals.åÊ Autism is categorized under the term ASD, which stands for autism spectrum disorders.åÊ A spectrum disorder refers to the varying degree of behavior affecting the individual.
One might ask how vision therapy can benefit an individual with autism.åÊ To fully answer that question it is important to realize that our vision is composed of two distint systems, ambient and focal.
Our focal system allows us to answer the question, “What is it?”åÊ This particular area of our vision utilizes the central field of vision, is a conscious process and works independently from our other sensory systems.
In contrast, the ambient system involves more of our full visual field, is a non-conscious process and has an integral role with the other sensory systems.åÊ The questions of, “Where am I?” and “Where is it? are examples of those addressed by the ambient system.
Those with autism tend to have a preference for their focal visual system which can be quite detrimental since the ambient system allows us to accurately judge distances, the speed of moving objects, as well as interpreting the body language of others.åÊ This lack of visual attention creates a barrier for the brain to interpret and process information received from the ambient system.
Vision is a learned process, and can therefore be accelerated by retraining the visual system to work more efficiently.åÊ Vision therapy is a individualized treatment program designed to improve on the patient’s fundamental visual skills. The development of the ambient system can also be enhanced through vision therapy as well as the integration of the focal and ambient systems, necessary for accurate visual processing to occur.
If you have an interest in learning more about the relationship between vision therapy and autism there will be an informational presentation by Dr. Dan L. Fortenbacher, O.D.,FCOVD at WOW Vision Therapy on Monday April 21 at 7:00 p.m.åÊ This free seminar is put on by the Autism Awareness Project, which is a cooperative effort between parents and service providers in Berrien county dedicated to raising awareness of ASD in our community.åÊ The presentation will be held at WOW Vision Therapy, 2908 Division Street in St. Joseph, Michigan 49085.
If you are interested in attending the presentation, please RSVP at (269) 983-3309 by April 18, 2008.