Vision is the sense that takes in the most information and it is often implicated in learning difficulties, but may also influence many other areas, such as concentration, behaviour and emotional state.
Standard vision tests are primarily designed to assess visual acuity and whether corrective lenses are required. However, efficient visual processing required for daily activities, such as reading, sport, driving, academic work and social life is far more complex than just the number and size of letters someone can identify on a chart in a bright white box while sitting in an artificially darkened room.
They rarely look at light sensitivity, colour imbalances, how the two eyes work together as a team or visual stress such as (Meares-Irlen syndrome) in which text may appear to move and blur, resulting in eye-strain and headaches.
These visual problems can all contribute to reading difficulties which often become evident at school but can persist into adult life.
In the first instance you often can get a reasonable evaluation of how the vision is performing by simple observations you can make yourself. These can play a key role in uncovering what may lie behind learning, sensory, developmental or emotional difficulties.
Here we outline some typical behaviours that often are the result of the visual system not working properly:
- Has difficulty reading aloud
- Has difficulty comprehending written materials
- Has difficulty with spelling
- Likes to wear sunglasses
- Likes to wear a peaked cap
- Prefers to stay in the shade or away from windows
- Likes to play under covers or in dark places
- Has a squint
- Suffers from eye strain or tired eyes
- Suffers from colour blindness
- Has difficulty separating object from background
- Has difficulty distinguishing between similar objects
- Disturbed by overload of shapes or colours
- Disturbed by patterns on carpet or wallpaper
- Disturbed by certain colours
- Is very specific about colours
- Constantly stares at fingers, lights, toy, etc
- Likes to line up toys or objects
- Likes to sort toys or objects by colour, size or shape
- Has a need to constantly look at a moving object
- Withdraws from eye contact
- Is not aware of what goes on around him or her
- Has difficulty recognising or remembering faces
- Has difficulty reading facial or emotional expressions
- Has difficulty remembering what was seen
- Has difficulties reading
- Sees print moving
- Has difficulties tracking (following a line)
- Skips lines when reading
- Has difficulties with maths equations
- Has difficulty drawing
- Makes out of proportion drawings
- Has difficulty planning the use of space on a sheet
- Has difficulty writing
- Reverses letters or words
- Has difficulty copying from a book or board
- Has difficulty using a separate answer sheet
- Cannot colour within the lines
- Moves body to read
- Reads very close to, or with head on, the page
- Tilts head to the side to read
- Uses finger to read
- Skips lines or words
Each typical behaviour on its own may not be meaningful. However, where there is a cluster of indicators, possibly across a number of senses, and the person has learning, sensory, developmental or emotional difficulties, these can indicate that one or more of the senses are out of balance.
The Centre is happy to provide informal advice by means of a consultation, either by telephone or email. During this stage, we can generally establish whether we are likely to be able to help and what next steps to recommend.