Does your student miss-call easy words? Does he or she lose their place on the page, often re-reading the same row or skipping rows of text all together? Does your student find it difficult to concentrate while reading and thus avoids reading?åÊWhen an otherwise bright child struggles, this surely raises a “red flag”åÊin the minds of concerned parents and teachers.
At theåÊtime of this post we have completed the first weekåÊin May 2009. The school year is winding down to an end. This is the time of the year when the assessment process begins for those children who have struggled inåÊschool. ConcernedåÊparents and teachers want to know…why is my child having trouble and what should we doåÊto help him or her catch up for next year? Parents often wonder, do we pursue summer school? DoåÊwe hire a private tutor? In some extreme cases, do we consider havingåÊmy childåÊrepeat the same grade next year?
These are all valid questions, but speaking as a doctor specializing in vision developmentåÊfor 30 years, it is critically important to ensure that the struggling child does not have a “fixable” visionåÊproblemåÊthat is holding them back fromåÊreaching their potential. In my experience, if a child has a vision problem involving proper eye coordination skill, visual processing or visual-motor integration, it is imperative to address the underlying developmental vision problem as part of the solution to helping that child get back on track academically.
Since the majority of children with developmental vision problems can be corrected in 3-4 months,åÊthe timing to obtain help is critical. If a problem is suspected, the child should have a comprehensive vision evaluation.åÊIf the child isåÊidentified with a problemåÊin binocular vision (eye teaming skill), accommodation ( eye focusing skill), oculomotor skill (visual tracking), visual perception or visual motor integration (eye-hand coordination) it is preferable for the childåÊtoåÊobtain treatment during the “summer vacation”. ThisåÊwill prepare him or heråÊfor a successful school year in the fall.
Unfortunately, when parents “let it ride”åÊto see how their child handles it in the fall, they mayåÊbe facingåÊan emotional “roller coaster” (for everyone inåÊthe family)åÊas the child tries but is unable to meet the visual demands of the next grade level. Too often we see children late in the school year after they have had weeks of frustration. This could have beenåÊavoided by being proactive during the summer. The summer is also ideal because treatment can beåÊeasier to plug-in to the summer activityåÊschedule.
What can you do right now? To help parents and teachers recognize some of the signs and symptoms associated with a developmental vision problem Click the followingåÊto downloadåÊan easy to use “Symptom Checklist”:åÊDownload Developmental Vision Symptom Checklist
Print out the “Checklist” and answer the questions. If your child has a significant number of symptoms graded in the “3” or “4” category, then you should have them tested immediately by a doctor of Optometry who isåÊexperienced in children’ s vision. If a diagnosis identifies a vision problem that could be corrected with office-based vision therapy, then do not hesitate. Get help for the child over the summer so that when the fall arrives, your child will have the visual readiness skills to meet the demands of the next grade level.
Success in school is dependent on visual readiness!
Dan L. Fortenbacher, O.D.,FCOVD