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We are an Army family! Miles was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 6 and he is now 15 years old. Marley is Miles' Autism Service Dog and his best friend. This dynamic duo has been together for 5 years and look forward to many more adventures! 

For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love and sound judgement.  
                                                       2 Timothy 1:7


Vision Therapy

But I will hope continually,
and will praise You more and more.
                                                 Psalm 71:14

Miles started Vision Therapy a few months after we moved to Florida. This therapy has made the single largest impact on Miles' quality of life. It has helped him overcome a majority of issues with vision we never realized he experienced. The therapist and Doctor made each session fun and challenging which kept Miles motivated and on track. The coolest thing we heard Miles say, at the end of his first phase, was how much better he could see things--it simply amazed him! It was exciting to watch him realize that all of his hard work was having good results. Because of Vision Therapy he loves to read and school work is a breeze.

Visual processing sensory issues in children with autism spectrum disorders resemble learning disabilities. Many children with autism spectrum disorders have sensory integrative dysfunction in visual processing. Accurate visual processing allows a child to identify what he sees, understand it, predict what might happen, and respond accordingly. Unlike eyesight, which depends on the physical workings of the eye, vision is an unconscious, integrative function that takes place in the brain. This makes vision the largest sensory system in terms of information. In addition, vision dysfunction is the sensory disorder most often overlooked.

Visual Processing Discrimination
Visual processing discrimination helps a child make sense of what he sees. It tells him where an object is, and where he is in relation to that object. Discrimination helps children to react appropriately and includes:
  • peripheral vision
  • depth perception
  • discerning moving objects
  • judging an object’s distance from him
  • judging distance between objects
  • right and left awareness
  • discerning up from down
  • discerning right-side up from upside down
  • ability to discern between similar letters, like “u” from “n”
  • discerning background from foreground
  • ability to pick out a face in a crowd
  • discerning differences or likenesses in size, shape, patterns, form, position, and color
  • recognize, associate, store, and retrieve memories and visual details
  • ability to visualize, or put things in order
  • visual attention: reading, following directions, look at objects and people
A child having difficulty with visual processing sensory disorder might have problems in any of these areas.

Visual Processing Disorder and Sensory Issues in Children on the Autism Spectrum
Visual processing disorder comes with different sensory issues. One autistic child might read well, but has trouble dealing with bright lights or moving objects. Another child can’t keep focused long enough on the letters and words. Another might slowly read while using his finger to hold his place, but can’t understand what he just read.
While reading and comprehension problems can look like learning disorders, sensory issues in children on the autism spectrum can also be errors in visual processing. Additionally, motor skills like eye-and-ear coordination, eye-and-foot coordination, and eye-and-hand coordination can also be affected since the child can’t use vision to guide his physical movements.

Additional Visual Processing Sensory Disorder Symptoms
While some children with autism over-react to visual stimuli, there are others who under-react. These autistic children might show signs of indifference, be inattentive, act like they are not listening, or appear to live in their own private world. Most under-responsive children, however, crave additional visual experiences like watching action movies and cartoons, playing video games, or surrounding themselves with bright colors and patterns.
Additional signs might be:
  • misreads facial cues
  • poor sense of direction
  • difficulty coloring between the lines
  • difficulty moving eyes from one line of words to another
  • trouble shifting gaze between book and paper, easily loses place
  • cock-eyed or out of proportion drawings
  • trouble understanding what he is looking at or where objects actually are
  • trouble knowing where he is in relation to other objects
  • focus on one thing at a time; can’t multitask
  • difficulty manipulating toys, kicking a ball, riding a bicycle
  • difficulty walking up or down stairs
  • inattentive in crowded, noisy, or busy atmosphere

Visual Sensory Issues in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Strange behaviors and learning delays often result from visual processing dysfunction in the brain. Since normal integration is unconscious, visual sensory issues in children with autism spectrum disorders are often overlooked and sometimes mistaken for learning disabilities. When the brain cannot organize and sort incoming sensory data, a child cannot make visual sense of the world. 
Visual processing issues are complex and need to be evaluated by a health professional. Integrative therapy is available to help an autistic child desensitize to stimulation or add additional visual experiences to his routine.
One out of every four individuals suffers from an undiagnosed vision-related learning problem. The following conditions contribute to a decreased ability to function efficiently in an academic setting or work place.

1. Convergence Insufficiency - occurs when the eyes do not turn inward properly when focusing on a near object.

2. Strabismus - one or both eyes will turn in or out more frequently under visual stress

3. Amblyopia (Lazy Eye) - one or both eyes cannot be corrected to see 20/20 due to lack of proper visual development.

4. C.V.S. (Computer Vision Syndrome) - one of the fastest growing health concerns in the workplace. Excessive computer use can induce eyestrain, headaches, and/or reduction in quality of life.

5. Poor Binocular (Eye Teaming) Coordination - often times termed a Binocular Vision Dysfunction (BVD) where the two eyes do not team well which contributes to many early developmental delays.

Binocular - both eyes working as a team

Vision - "More than 20/20" the ability to make sense of what we see
Dysfunction - not working properly or efficiently

Many times the above condition cannot be treated with glasses, contacts or patching alone and a Vision Therapy Program is required!

What is Vision Therapy?

Vision Therapy is an individualized, supervised treatment program designed to correct visual-motor and/or perceptual-cognitive deficiencies. Vision Therapy includes procedures designed to enhance the brain's ability to control:

*Eye Alignment
*Eye Tracking
*Eye Teaming
*Eye Focusing Abilities
*Eye Movement
*Visual Processing

Visual-motor skills and endurance are developed through the use of specialized computer and optical devices, including therapeutic lenses, prisms and filters. During the final stages of therapy, the patient's newly acquired visual skills are reinforced and made automatic through repetition and by integration with motor and cognitive skills.

Vision and Learning
Vision problems do not 'cause' learning disabilities. However, poor visual skills interfere with the process of learning and can impede remedial efforts. It is like trying to build a house on sand. Good vision skills on the other hand provide a solid foundation for learning. Due to similar symptoms visual deficits are VERY often misdiagnosed as the following: 


and more

Many parents spend enormous time and effort seeking answers to years of struggles. A comprehensive eye exam is crucial for ruling out vision as a contributing factor. 

In the picture below Miles is working with his Vision Therapist at Walesby Vision Center.  I can't stress enough as with any Therapy---quantity and quality do make a difference as does the "homework" portion!

In the picture below Miles is getting ready to start the home Vision Therapy program on his computer.  

Miles has finished the in office therapy sessions but will have to keep doing the computer program 2 days a week for 1 year to continue strengthening his eyes. 

If your child has done Vision Therapy, let us know what a difference it has made in their life!

The information provided on Vision Therapy can be found at About.com and Walesby Vision Center

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