|

Vision Problems

Ocular-Motor and Eye-Teaming Skills

Vision also depends on proper functioning of the eye muscles. Ocular muscles keep the eyes aligned and help them move smoothly and simultaneously. Visual acuity in each eye may be normal, but if the eyes don't work together as a team like a pair of binoculars, conflicting fields of visual input can result in confusing misperceptions about the world. Working in concert with vestibular and visual sensory information, the eye muscles must also be able to...

  • follow moving objects such as a ball or children running in the playground;
  • visually fixate on objects as you move to keep the visual field stable;
  • control sequential scanning, such as when reading lines of print in a book;
  • re-fixate from one point to another, such as from one word to the next when reading, or from near to far and back, such as when taking notes from the board.
A lot of children with SI dysfunction have impaired ocular-motor and eye teaming skills. This makes everyday tasks such as looking into someone else's eyes, climbing stairs, navigating obstacles like furniture and other people, playing sports, reading, and writing extraordinarily difficult.

The world is crowded with a constant barrage of visual images. As your child's brain matures, she learns to filter out what's not important and attend to what she actually needs to see. You could be standing next to the TV talking to her, but she will only see Dora the Explorer. You may have to raise your voice, tap her shoulder, or fully block Dora to get her attention. Another child might be sitting in a classroom looking at the teacher, following her every move. Or she might be looking all over the room, giving equal visual attention to the truck outside, her teacher's nice new boots, the half-erased chalkboard, and so on. It is hard for her to direct her visual attention because she is distracted by conflicting visual stimuli. She is looking at everything and learning, sometimes, nothing.

A child might compensate for faulty visual processing by hyperfocusing. Whereas the child engrossed in TV or video is following a story or game, the hyperfocused child doesn't appear to gain anything from this behavior. He is. He is taking a break from the demands of the world and tuning it out by focusing his vision, much like a yogi in meditation.

On one end of the spectrum, there are children who crave visual stimulation. They may actually be learning while staring at something and appearing to be tuned out. For example, Lindsey observed Marlon, who at age two loved nothing more than dumping out his bucket of letters, numbers, and shapes and looking at them for hours. Then, six months later, he spontaneously began to write and draw simple shapes with off-the-developmental-charts accuracy.

Common Signs of Vision Problems

Because children don't realize when they see differently than anyone else does, you have to watch for sometimes subtle symptoms and behaviors. Does your child...

  • complain of headaches or tiredness, rub his eyes often, or squint?
  • have difficulty concentrating and paying attention?
  • skip words or lines or frequently lose his place when reading unless he uses his finger as a guide?
  • have poor handwriting and drawing skills?
  • have trouble copying from the board?
  • seem disinterested in, or overly distracted by, objects in the environment?
|

From Raising a Sensory Smart Child by Lindsey Biel, M.A., OTR/L and Nancy Peske. Copyright © 2005. Used by arrangement with Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

If you'd like to buy this book, click here or on the book cover.


stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

get ready for school!

We’ve got your
shopping list,
lunch menu,
and more.

GO

highlights

Join BIC on our mission to save handwriting and Fight For Your Write! Writing helps kids become better readers, boosts their confidence and sparks their creativity. Visit BICFightForYourWrite.com to sign our petition to save handwriting!

7 Fun Driveway and Sidewalk Games for Kids
Looking for classic outdoor games kids can play in the driveway or on the sidewalk, just like the good ol' days? From hopscotch to bubble-blowing contests, there's something for all ages!

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

Best Sun Safety Practices for Babies
Follow these sun safety practices for babies to ensure your little one stays safe on the beach and on sunny days all year long.