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Why Vision Therapy Comes Before Tutoring or a Learning Center

Our parental instinct naturally wants to find the fastest solution & often the first options for a child who struggles in the classroom are either a tutor or a learning center. However, some learning problems are vision-related, which is a problem in development and not necessarily due to learning capability.

When patients come to us for a vision therapy evaluation, we strive to educate parents how to recognize that when their child has a tantrum, gets easily frustrated, and can’t continue with homework, the child can show he or she is very bright and intelligent in other areas. Therefore, the issue of learning to read might not have anything to do with the child’s intelligence but a visual one.

Vision is such a basic tool that many parents may have already enrolled their child in other programs because they never questioned the child’s ability to see. When learning programs can’t solve the child’s struggles, parents discover vision therapy as an alternative, either from a referral or after online research.

Why aren’t parents brought to vision therapy from the beginning?

There are various reasons why vision therapy may not have been recommended to you initially or perhaps have never heard about it until now.

  1. Vision therapy is a unique program that only some optometrists specialize in and offer at their clinics.
  2. In vision screenings at school, vision is only tested for seeing at a distance. A child with a problem with another visual skill can go undiagnosed.
  3. Since there are children with learning problems, some with vision problems, diagnosing the exact issue becomes more difficult as the child may be juggling more than one condition.
  4. The child does not have regular eye exams with an optometrist or local eye doctor.

Fortunately, vision therapy is growing in popularity because of the effectiveness and immediate benefits in children with problems. Previousl children would continue their years at school without ever treating their vision problem. Even today, some adult patients come to us for therapy & discover they had a lingering vision problem holding them back the entire time.

Is there a time that’s too early to treat a vision problem?

When a child is starting to read & pronounce the words in 1st or 2nd grade, if they have a vision problem, their learning will be slower than other children & unfortunately, the issue generally won’t go away on its own. In scenarios like this, a child with a vision problem who reaches 3rd, 4th, or even 5th grade without treating their vision, will end up falling behind the class at a more noticeable rate. A child may lose confidence or face peer pressure unless their situation is handled with care. However, if the vision problem is addressed early, the child can enjoy their early school years with fully developed visual skills and not have to face these challenges at an older age.

Signs of a child with a vision problem may be able to pronounce words & run through sentences, but they will lack comprehension. Children may end up learning to read but never reading to learn. For a person who grew up with normal vision, it’s difficult to comprehend how someone can read through a page & not remember what they read.

Why Vision Therapy Should Be Your 1st Priority

Fortunately, vision therapy is well researched & supported with multitudes of success stories over the years. Plus, a developmental optometrist who specializes in vision therapy has ways to accurately test your child’s various visual skills & identify whether vision therapy is needed. There’s no guesswork involved. This means that your child will achieve normal, functional vision at the end of therapy, and in many cases, they become amazing readers, sports players, and happy to learn.

Is My Child Too Young for Vision Therapy?

Preschool Children Vision TherapyThe first years of a child’s life are crucial in ensuring the healthy and normal development of various body parts, especially the visual system. As a child’s body grows, so do the eyes. This can cause changes in vision. Keeping a close eye on, well, your child’s eyes, can help ensure that they are developing in a healthy way.

It’s important for parents and teachers to be on the lookout for problems with visual processing, as they can interfere with a child’s academics, social life, and extracurricular endeavors. This is especially evident during the school years when reading, writing, homework, and after-school activities become a part of their normal daily routine.

Even if a child has no refractive errors (such as nearsightedness or farsightedness) and has 20/20 vision, he or she may still have difficulties with visual processing or focus. These types of visual complications are often more difficult to detect, but may still impact various aspects of a child’s development.

When a child’s visual difficulties hinder their learning or social interactions, it may be time to try vision therapy.

What is Vision Therapy?

Vision therapy is a personalized regimen of exercises that can improve and strengthen visual functions. Each patient has unique needs and different degrees of visual health, which is why Dr. Scott Lewis and the team at Focus Vision Therapy Center create a customized vision therapy program to get the best results for your child.

Vision therapy is compared to physical therapy, only for the eyes instead of the entire body. The techniques and exercises can teach the eyes to improve specific areas of vision, such as focus, eye teaming, hand-eye coordination, and visual tracking, among other skills. The doctor may include prisms or special eyeglasses to boost the therapy program.

Most children’s vision therapy takes place in our office and usually once a week. You’ll be instructed to continue some of the exercises at home for 15-20 minutes daily, which will support the in-office treatment.

At What Age Can Children Begin Vision Therapy?

Vision therapy is offered to children as young as 6 years of age. Kids can develop problems with visual perception and clarity that aren’t always detected with a standard vision exam or school screening. Of course, every child is different, and the best way to know if they’re ready for vision therapy is to schedule a consultation with Dr. Scott Lewis.

Does Vision Therapy Really Work?

Vision therapy has been proven to improve visual skills and functions in both children and adults. It is an approved treatment by recognized organizations in the medical community, such as the American Optometric Association and the Canadian Association of Optometrists.

Keep in mind that it can take several months to notice significant improvement. Consistency is key. Young children, especially in the toddler years, need a steady routine to achieve the best possible results.

It’s important to note that vision therapy does not fix your child’s learning abilities or correct any refractive errors. The goal is to improve their visual function so that their skills in reading, writing, schoolwork, and social activities are strengthened for a better quality of life.

Contact Dr. Scott Lewis and the knowledgeable staff at Focus Vision Therapy Center to schedule a consultation and see whether vision therapy is right for your child.

Dr. Scott Lewis serves patients in Eagle, Boise, Emmett, and Nampa, and throughout Idaho.

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