Are you glad that school is almost over and summer nearly here? Are you hoping that somehow school will be better next year? What will you do if things don’t get better on their own?
Statistically, 20% of school-aged children have difficulty control their eye movements when reading. As a result they fight double vision every day, especially with school work. Some children struggle with print that blurs or jumps around. Is it any surprise these children are not doing well in school and become frustrated?
If your child is struggling to read or finding it difficult to remain on task, the cause may be an undetected vision problem, even if your child has passed the school's vision screening or a routine eye exam. Many of these children are often suspected of having learning disabilities, dyslexia, or attention deficits when the real culprit is their vision. Early detection can save years of struggling. If your child has been labeled ADD, learning disabled, dyslexic, unmotivated or even "lazy," there may be an underlying vision problem.
Throughout grade school there are many demands placed on children in the classroom, however, no task is more challenging in those early years of school than learning to read. Reading requires children to accurately use all of their language, decoding, phonetic, and visual skills to successfully recognize words and gather meaning from the written text. Some children suffer from learning disabilities or dyslexia, the inability of the brain's verbal language or auditory processing centers to accurately decode print or phonetically make the connection between the word's written symbols and their appropriate sounds. However, a large portion of children struggling to read are not dyslexic at all; their phonetic awareness and language processing skills are fine. It's their vision that is interfering with their ability to read.
Vision plays a vital role in the reading process. First, children must have crisp, sharp eyesight in order to see the print clearly. School vision screenings routinely check children's sharpness of vision at distance--measured by the 20/20 line on the eye chart--and refer children for glasses if they have blurry far-away vision and can't see the board from the back of the room. Unfortunately, this is all school vision screenings are designed to check, but children's vision involves so much more.
For success in school, children must have visual skills besides their sharpness of sight, or visual acuity. They must also be able to coordinate their eye movements as a team. They must be able to follow a line of print without losing their place. They must be able to maintain clear focus as they read or make quick focusing changes when looking up to the board and back to their desks. And they must be able to interpret and accurately process what they are seeing. If children have inadequate visual skills in any of these areas, they can experience great difficulty in school, especially in reading.
Children who lack good basic visual skills often struggle in school unnecessarily. Their "hidden" vision problem keeps them from performing at grade level. Unfortunately teachers and parents often don’t make the connection between poor reading and the child's vision. If your child is having a problem with school or with reading, the summer is an ideal time to address this so that your child develops the vision skills they need for school next year.