Saturday, September 29, 2012

Just How Much Does Vision Impact Reading & Learning?

Subtitle: Is it REALLY ADHD?

This past weekend, we attended an outstanding educational conference in Springfield, MO. The organization, Learning Insights, sponsored and hosted the event called Vision’s Impact on Learning. Learning Insights is a 501(c)3, not-for-profit organization that was established to help students develop vision skills with its unique program called the Vision Intervention Program (VIP). Many children have vision issues such as tracking difficulty, inability to efficiently move from target to target, eyes not "working as a team", poor visual perspective skills etc. Learning Insights trains school personnel to identify these children and then tutor them at school to reduce or eliminate these problems.

Attending the conference were many educators, school administrators, developmental optometrists, occupational therapists, VIP trainers, testers, tutors and others interested and wanting to learn more about the unique relationship between a child’s vision and the ability to read and learn successfully.

During the conference, Learning Insights, associates of their VIP program and other eye-care professionals provided attendees with much important information. The following statistics about vision’s impact on learning are only a small sample of some of the important information imparted at the event :

“Forty-one percent (41%) of K-3 students CANNOT:
---Tell the difference between the letters “M” and “N.”
---Change their focus from desk to chalkboard.
---Track the sentences in their textbooks.”

“Undiagnosed and untreated vision-related problems significantly contribute to reading difficulties and special education classifications. Early vision interventions could help 70% of these students avoid a disability diagnosis.”

Comprehensive vision testing is critical to evaluating children (and adults) for vision-related reading and learning challenges. A developmental optometrist can provide this type of testing. A VIP vision screener can also assist with this. A “regular” vision test is not a complete evaluation if one wishes to fully test, diagnose and provide the most appropriate therapies or other services for vision-related reading/learning issues.

Many young, struggling students with 20/20 vision test results are mistakenly thought to have no reading/learning difficulties caused by vision issues. Unfortunately, many of these children are later inappropriately given prescription medications to help with focus, attention, tracking, or other issues and behaviors. Sadly, these children often may take the prescribed “focusing” medications for years, with none of us knowing yet what the residual effects will be for such regimens.

So in summary, it is all about a comprehensive eye exam for children struggling in school with reading and learning. It is the first good step in meeting the needs of challenged learners---before the consideration of medications or anything else. We would like to thank Mr. Michael N. Flynn, the Executive Director of Learning Insights and the VIP program for all the work he and his associates continue to do to help educators, parents and others receive this critical information about vision’s impact on learning. Our children are certainly depending on it.

We would also like to provide our readers here with some excellent resources to learn more about vision and its relationship to reading and learning. Please see our list to follow so that you might more appropriately help a struggling reader or learner you know:

1. The College of Optometrists in Vision Development---A professional organization which grants board certification in vision therapy to optometrists.

2. Is it really ADD/ADHD? Or does your child have an undetected vision problem?

3. Easy-to-understand information on crossed-eyes, lazy eye, strabismus, developmental delays, vision therapy, eye muscle surgery, dyslexia, vision impairments, and much more.

4. This FREE directory provides immediate referrals to board certified providers of vision therapy. Find an eye doctor in your state or another.

5. This article is written by an eye doctor and explains how and why convergence insufficiency causes problems with reading and learning (with illustrations).

6. Website for the not-for-profit Learning Insights organization and the VIP program. (SPECIAL NOTE: PowerPoint presentations from the recent late September 2012 conference, Vision’s Impact on Learning, are scheduled to be posted on the website sometime in October 2012).

For more information: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image Provided by Classroom Clipart

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