AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF YOUR CHILD
by Bill Takeshita, O.D., F.A.A., F.C.O.V.D.
is a very important skill that affects a child's learning and general
development. As early as birth, a child uses vision to learn to
recognize and identify faces. By three months of age, the visual
areas of the brain allow the child to communicate by reading and
interpreting facial expressions. Children also use vision during
the early years of life to imitate expressions and activities they
have seen, such as dancing or shooting a basketball into a basket.
Vision plays a significant role in other aspects of a child's life,
including learning to stack blocks, assemble a puzzle, write letters,
read, and participate in sports.
a child may have vision problems. Often, these vision problems are
not detected early on and this affects the overall development and
learning potential of the child. Studies have found that a child
with vision problems may be delayed in various aspects of development
by two to three times. In addition, vision problems are frequently
associated with learning difficulties in the classroom.
should be aware that there are three primary classifications of
vision problems. These are described briefly, below.
child may be born with eye problems that may cause blurred sight,
double vision, color blindness, sensitivity to glare, and reduced
peripheral vision. Eye problems are often not detected until a child
has been screened by a nurse in kindergarten. Early detection and
treatment of eye problems is critical.
and ophthalmologists who specialize in working with children can
detect vision problems as early as birth. The American Optometric
Association recommends that children have a complete vision assessment
at the age of six months to screen for eye diseases such as cataracts,
retinal problems from prematurity, and optic nerve disease. The
examination will also detect crossed or turned eyes (strabismus)
and lazy eye (amblyopia). Glasses, medications, eye exercises, and
surgery can correct many eye problems.
is a very complex phenomenon that occurs in various parts of the
brain, not in the eyes. The eyes merely send information to the
brain to be processed. Over two thirds of the brain is involved
in the process of vision. Consequently, neurological conditions,
such as seizures, head trauma, prematurity, brain hemorrhage, or
lack of oxygen may affect a child's ability to process visual information.
insult is one of the leading causes of vision impairment among children.
It is most often due to the lack of oxygen at or shortly after birth.
Vision simulation is strongly recommended to attempt to stimulate
the visual areas of the brain, allowing the child to develop some
children who never suffered from neurological trauma, lack of oxygen,
or other head injury may have visual processing difficulties that
affect their ability to read, write or learn through the visual
system. These children may suffer from a visual learning disability.
Children with visual perception problems may have difficulty learning
to recognize and identify shapes, numbers, letters and words. In
addition, they may have problems drawing, writing, copying from
the chalkboard, solving puzzles, and reading maps or diagrams.
diagnosis and treatment recommendations are critical to help such
children learn most effectively in the classroom.
visual areas of the brain send information to the motor areas, directing
the hands, feet and body to react to what has been seen. Eye problems
and visual processing problems in the brain both affect the development
of eye hand and eye body coordination. Children with visual motor
problems may have difficulty walking, playing sports and performing
activities that involve the eyes and muscle of the body.
technology can be very helpful for those who have visual graphomotor
(writing) problems and visual motor integration difficulties. Occupational
therapy is also very helpful for these children.
Takeshita is the Director of Children Services at the Center for
the Partially Sighted in Los Angeles, California. If you would like
further information, please contact him at 310-458-3501 or visit
the Centerís website at www.low-vision.org.
with permission by:
Special Needs Advocate for Parents
1801 Avenue of the Stars #401
Century City, CA 90067
or you can reach us at:
(888) 310-9889 (toll-free phone)
(310) 201-9889 (fax)