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Q & A: About Autism and Vision

What is Autism?

Autism is a neurobiological disorder. People with autism have difficulty processing and responding to information from their senses. They also have difficulties with communication and social interaction. Symptoms of autism can include lack of social interaction, delays in development, and inappropriate response to sensory information.

How can an Behavioral Optometrist or a Developmental Optometrists help my child with Autism?

Dr. Roth and his staff are sensitive to children with autism and those with special needs. He is able to examine even when a child or adult is not able to respond. Vision is a learned process and can be developed, taught or enhanced at any age. Behavioral and Developmental Optometrists have training beyond the basic Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree and have a clear understanding of how the visual system can be developed. Lenses, prisms, and vision therapy enhance a patient’s visual abilities.

What are some of the vision treatment options for a child or young adult with autism?

Behavioral Optometrists treat and address the vision issues common in autism including visual stims that vary with each individual and difficulty in eye contact. Helping people with autism input and process vision more efficiently and more accurately. This then improves their ability to interact with the world around them, socialize, and even communicate.

At times traditional glasses may be prescribed to improve your child’s ability to focus their environment and at times special prism glasses are used and have a big impact on your child’s ability to process. Vision Therapy activities stimulate the central visual system and their ability to process what they can now see better. The overall goal is better visual input coupled with an improved ability to process what they can see.

My child has Autism and has difficulty communicating. How do I know if he is having trouble seeing?

Visual problems are very common in persons diagnosed with autism. Behavioral signs include a lack of eye contact, staring at spinning or moving objects or light, fleeting peripheral glances, side viewing, and difficulty attending visually.

Children with autism have difficulty using their visual information. They may have problems coordinating and integrating what they see in front of them with what they see off to their sides. They may have difficulty maintaining his visual attention. Eye movement disorders (the ability to control the eyes) and crossed eyes are common in children with autism.


Dr. Roth is Board Certified in Vision Development and Therapy has years of experience with individuals on the Autism Spectrum.