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Title: Learning Disabilities - Dyslexia and Vision

Category: Child Care


The American Academy of Pediatrics recently published a policy statement on learning disabilities, dyslexia and vision. They emphasized the importance of early diagnosis of any type of learning disabilities particularly reading problems such as dyslexia and language problems. In such cases, they recommend early comprehensive educational, psychological, and medical assessment. Usually educational remediation or special training or tutoring would be combined with appropriate medical and psychological treatment. Occasionally these conditions are associated with visual problems; a good check of vision early on is wise. Rarely, however, is a visual problem the major cause of learning disabilities, dyslexia or attention deficit disorder.

The major cause of dyslexia, learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder is an abnormality in the central nervous system which is very complex and has many factors. Correcting minor visual problems does not change the basic central nervous system problem. It is important to understand that children with dyslexia and related learning disabilities have the same basic eye problems as children without learning disabilities. However, no specific eye defect is the cause of the dyslexia or learning disability. Also, there is no eye treatment that can cure dyslexia or associated learning disabilities.

If any specific ocular defect is identified, it should be followed by an ophthalmologist and corrected appropriately, such as farsightedness or nearsightedness corrected by glasses. If you suspect an eye problem, consult your pediatrician or eye doctor as early as possible.

The major controversy in this area has been with individuals trying to treat dyslexia and learning disabilities with specific visual training techniques, muscle exercises, tracking exercises, training glasses, neurological organizational training, tinted glasses and other techniques. These methods can be expensive and have not been scientifically proven to truly improve dyslexia or learning disabilities or academic abilities. Claims of improved reading or learning after such visual training methods may be due to educational remedial techniques done at the same time as the visual exercises.

Teaching children with dyslexia and learning disabilities is a challenge for all educators and there is no simple educational approach that works for all. In some cases a psychologist may be needed for help with specific educational diagnosis and planning. Several physician specialists such as pediatricians, ear,nose and throat specialists, ophthalmologists, neurologists and even psychiatrists may be necessary for some complex cases. The key is working with a team approach and making the diagnosis early. Ultimately the educator plays the key role in providing help for learning disabled and dyslexic children. This policy statement is backed up not only by the American Academy of Pediatrics but also by the American Academy of Ophthalmology.