If you have a child who is struggling at school then you will be extremely interested in information that offers help for children with learning disabilities, whatever form it may take. You are probably concerned enough to spend big dollars and loads of time trying to find a solution to their academic problems, and you may notice that there is a huge variety of material available, especially on the Internet.

Reading disabilities are a hot topic these days, with many students struggling to keep up with their peers, or failing to do enough work at home. This provides a challenge for the teachers who care for them, especially remedial teachers, but it can be a source of great pain and incredible frustration for both parents and kids.

Behavioural optometry can help children with learning disabilitieschildren with learning disabilities

Having worked in the field of dyslexia and educational disabilities for over 20 years, I care about how vision affects education. I’m not talking about whether a child can see clearly not, because most kids can see perfectly well, but the question is can they see comfortably and can they take in, interpret and understand the information their eyes are giving them as they look at computers or books.

A behavioural optometrist goes far beyond a regular eye test. Almost all optometrists test children’s eyes, a behavioural optometrist cares enough to take extra time to closely examine the focusing and eye teaming abilities, eye movements across a page, and a variety of perceptual skills like visualisation, directionality, sequencing and coding.

Because vision is the dominant sense in the classroom (and at home for Home work!), the vast majority of children with learning disabilities actually have a strong visual component to the difficulties, with over 80% of all information in the classroom coming in via the eyes and visual system. This is especially true for ADHD, autistic or asperges kids or children struggling with vestibular, audio or any other learning disorder or disability.

And it is not just about the ability to see, because chimpanzees can see a book but they cannot learn like we can, no matter what interventions or additional experience we give them. Kids might see the print, but focusing on it for any length of time can cause fatigue, frustration or eyestrain, and so they choose to lose concentration very quickly on their work books.

If they constantly lose concentration, the concerns are that they never do enough to develop the visual abilities that they need to learn effectively. Skills like eye movements, focus and eye teaming, visualisation and the like are essential for learning, but it takes practice to gain the skill.

Checking Vision can be Helpful for children with Learning Disabilities

The role of the behavioural optometrist is to ensure that a child’s eyes and visual system are set up appropriately to allow them to learn at maximum efficiency and progress in their studies. Our task is to get them concentrating and to help them develop the visual abilities that are required for learning, and that will last a lifetime.

So if you are serious about investigating why they are struggling at school, and if you feel you are ready for a cost-effective and successful mode of treatment, then my recommendation is that you carefully examine the child’s vision.

That is my role as a behavioural optometrist. I do not teach children to read, I do not drill spelling words with them, but I am able to give them the skills they need to do these appropriately. Using glasses and specific vision therapy my aim is to have a huge impact on every child who was struggling at school, and to join with educational professionals to ensure that children with learning disabilities get every chance possible to overcome and succeed.

developmental optometristA developmental optometrist is another name for a behavioural optometrist, which is an optometrist who takes a special interest in the development of the visual system, especially as it applies to learning difficulties and the development of conditions like myopia.

Most developmental optometrists start out as I did, being a regular optometrist but wanting to do more to help the children I was seeing.  I recognized that conventional optometry did not detect all the conditions of the eyes, in particular those which relate to children with learning problems.

Many kids with learning difficulties visit an optometrist and are told that they have 20/20 vision, and that they are not long or short sighted.  This leaves parents with little alternative except to move on and try tutoring, etc., but if you main symptom is poor concentration when reading and doing close work, there has got to be more to the story!

So How Can a Developmental or Behavioural Optometrist Help?

On the Sunshine Coast there are many optometrists, in all shapes and sizes, some working for big corporations and others, like myself, in smaller, friendlier local practices.  Yet there are very few behavioural optometrists, dedicated to testing and treating visual development in children with learning difficulties.

“When you are a Developmental Optometrist your entire philosophy of vision testing changes,” explains Dr Darin Browne, “And rather than simply testing to see if a child is long or short sighted, we look far deeper at the focusing and eye teaming abilities, as well as factors like visual memory for spelling, directionality for letter reversals and other perceptual skills like coding, sequencing and even eye movements.”

The reality is that the developmental optometrist often discover deeper issues that are not even being tested by other more conventional Optometrists.  And even more importantly, they have a means of not only testing for conditions, but also treating them successfully.

“Using specialized lenses and prescribing various types of vision therapy we can successfully help the vast majority of children who come to our practice with learning problems,” explains Darin, “and that is what most parents really want to see happen… that their children, who they know are bright, have the chance to reach their full potential.”

So even if your child has seen another Optometrist, why not visit Eye CU and discover how a developmental optometrist could make the difference in your child’s learning difficulties.

Behavioural OptometryBehavioural Optometry is an area is holistic, looking beyond the ability to see to include the ability to comprehend and process information via the eyes and visual system.  It is usually connected with kids and developing vision, and for this reason is typically referred to as developmental optometry.

Behavioural Optometry was once considered by conventional Optometry as being somewhere between reading tea leaves and reading palms!  When I started behavioural practice a long time ago, I felt like my fellow Optometrists saw me as weird and eccentric, but much has changed since then.

Nowadays other Optometrists send patients they may be unsure about to me!  In my area on the Sunshine Coast Behavioural Optometry is being embraced by established practitioners and recognized for what it is, a unique specialty or discipline within our profession which can provide real answers to children struggling at school.

 

Academic Support for Behavioural Optometry

Academics are actually discovering solid support for what Behavioural practitioners have been working with for years, and this has increased the credibility of this mode of Optometry.

Yet it does not stop there!  As a Behavioural Optometrist, I can now supply answers for most patients and many conditions, notably the efforts we’re pursuing to stop the progression of short sightedness or myopia.  This means that we don’t have to sit down by and watch our children’s prescriptions get stronger and their lenses thicker through the years!  Sometimes we can even reverse it, and the principles we build such treatments on are based upon longstanding Behavioural Optometry premises.

Another area which works well is in the treatment of turned eyes and lazy eyes, where conventional Optometry holds few answers and loads of frustration.  As Behavioural Optometrists, we can help the eyes to actually function together.

However, the actual power and attraction of this discipline is in the area of learning disabilities, where we are able to not just increase concentration and decrease frustration in our children, but we could also train them in the skills they need to learn, and hence see rapid and sustained improvement in their learning abilities.

So now could be the time when this branch of this profession is coming into it’s own!  There is a sound and powerful tool that can be used to assist children with learning disabilities, turned eyes, lazy eyes and increasing short sightedness, and this tool is known as Behavioural Optometry!

Vision therapy activitiesVision therapy activities are used by Behavioural Optometrists around the globe to help children develop their visual skills.  The main aim of these is to help the child as they learn and develop in their schooling rather than helping them to perform a specific task within the Optometrist’s office.  It is one thing to see some measurements in the office change, but I know every parent of a child struggling to learn is far more interested in whether their child’s learning ability has increased!

 

So the big question is, “Do vision therapy activities actually work?”

 

What are the Vision Therapy Activities?

If your child is struggling at school, as a concerned mother or father you might be on the lookout for ways to improve their abilities.  So-called experts are fast to dismiss the effectiveness of vision therapy activities without even attempting to understand what they are and how they work!

Having been involved in Behavioural Optometry for more than 25 years, I’ve seen these therapies improve both my measurements and the actual school efficiency and learning abilities of children in the classroom.  However, I recognize that some activities taught by optometrists hold little value for bettering the school performance of children, even when they change our measurements in the consulting room.

Making the claim that these therapies don’t work is like saying piano lessons don’t work!   Why dismiss a complete profession because someone did not get a great result with the therapy?  I have done poorly at piano lessons, however piano lessons do seem to have worked quite well for Billy Joel!

Vision Therapy Activities That Can’t Fail!

It may surprise you to know that there are vision therapies which simply cannot fail to teach children the skills they need, in much the same way that piano or guitar classes can not fail to enhance children’s skills at playing.  What skills am I talking about?

I use vision therapy to train skills like eye movements and tracking, eye coordination and focus, visual memory for spelling, directionality for letter reversals and well-known skills like sequencing, coding, etc.  These skills are used day-after-day by everybody as they learn, read and study, but if they’re slow in developing for any reason, the child will struggle at school.

OK, the skills would possibly develop naturally, but what happens if they do not develop until Grade 8?  You would have a bright youngster who has trouble reading, writing and spelling.  Many of these kids actually don’t have dyslexia or brain damage, they most often have simply failed to develop the skills they need do the job properly.

which concentrate on the visual skills every person in every culture makes use of to learn and read will definitely assist a child with learning disabilities.  In fact, they can not fail to have a positive effect!

which concentrate on developing these essential visual skills nearly always see enhancement of the child’s learning ability.  In the same way that piano lessons will enhance both a novice player and an expert, getting these skills right can have a major impact on a child’s capacity to learn.

The best news is that the therapies which assist children are frequently fun and fascinating for the kids!  I have worked hard to produce a variety of therapies which kids will enjoy doing, will be challenged by yet will not be overwhelmed by.  We have now a incredible success rate with these therapies for helping children with learning disabilities, because they’re fun and the kids really like doing them.  They’re not weird, not boring and take round 6 months to help a child reach their full potential.  While I don’t teach children to read, I can provide the visual skills that they need to allow an academic professional to teach them to read.

So when it comes to helping children with learning disabilities, vision therapy activities which concentrate on developing the necessary visual skills are extraordinarily effective!

behavioural optometristIf you’re the mum or dad of a child with a learning disabilities, a Behavioural Optometrist might have the answers you’re looking for!

A Behavioural Optometrist has a special interest in children, especially those that are battling learning disabilities.  These sorts of youngsters most frequently present with symptoms like reduced concentration for all their school work, and nearly all of them have in some way failed to develop the necessary visual skills required to perform well at school.

But the great news is that a behavioural optometrist like myself can help your child right across the board, both in focus and visual skills, using a combination of reading glasses and targeted vision therapy.

 

A Behavioural Optometrist Can Help Focus

 

Most folks think that all an Optometrist can do is help a child to see better, and most kids with learning problems have absolutely no issues with seeing the print.  Yet, as a Behavioural Optometrist I can tell you that the most common symptom I see in children with learning disabilities is poor concentration, not blur, not headaches and not sore  eyes.  These different symptoms can occur, that is for certain, but reduced concentration for reading and near tasks is by far the commonest symptom.

This occurs because the pressure induced on a child’s visual system as they try to read and learn causes the focusing and eye coordination mechanisms in the eye to stress out and ultimately break down.  If concentrating on reading is demanding for a child, they either do the work and suffer eyestrain, headaches and sore eyes, or more commonly simply refuse to do it… that is, they stop concentrating on their school work!

A Behavioural Optometrist can prescribe special support or study lenses, or they can use focus and eye coordination vision therapy.  Both of these techniques work very well, and both of them can increase the length of time a child can concentrate for.  This is a dream come true for a lot of annoyed parents, however there’s so much more that we can do in addition to helping your child to concentrate, and there are a number of ways we can assist your child as they battle to learn at school.

A Behavioural Optometrist Can Assist Studying

A child learning to read should develop certain skills to do the job properly.  Skills like word recognition, visual memory, eye movements and control all serve to help a child when they read.  Children struggling to learn most often show diminished visual skills, mainly because they have never concentrated long enough to develop the skills they need, and this is where I can offer something totally unique to help.

I have designed special exercises, therapies and games which target and supercharge a child’s visual development, and these therapies also help them to pay attention and learn more efficiently.

As a child reads, shouldn’t these skills develop normally?  Well yes, they definitely need to, but if a child has learning difficulties then they typically do not develop correctly, or are slow at developing.

Vision therapy allows us to concentrate on developing these skills and make them happen faster than they would normal develop as a child reads.  While the lenses we prescribe help children to pay attention better without stress, vision therapy permits us to train the skills they need to read, write and spell quickly and effectively.

Combining the two allows us to have the maximum influence on a child’s learning experience, and to do so within the shortest amount of time.  I have the chance to see both of these techniques work successfully in my practice, and I really like hearing children excitedly inform me that they have gone up a level in reading, or listening to their dad and mom describe the improvement.

So when it comes to helping children with learning disabilities, a Behavioural Optometrist could hold the answer to the problem.

That’s why I love being a Sunshine Coast Behavioural Optometrist!

Vision Therapy at HomeVision therapy at home is recognized as an extremely cost efficient way of helping a child with learning disabilities.  It can train the kinds of visual skills a child needs to learn properly and may also help children who struggle to read, write and spell of their learning.  Being home based creates a difficult scenario for the optometrist because they are not in control of the therapies directly, yet it gives convenience and ease for the parents and the child.

The Benefits of Vision Therapy at Home

Not every eye condition can be adequately treated by home vision therapy, because expertese and tools are often necessary to do the job.  This is especially true of therapies which target huge visual problems like lazy eyes or turned eyes, especially if neurological problems are involved such as is often the case with eyes that turn inwards.

That being said, learning disabilities are simply and positively helped using a home based program of therapies.  The advantages include…

It is Convenient:  could be done at any time, without an appointment with an eye care professional.  You can mix it with morning activities, homework or the assorted commitments children have.

No Travel Required:  With vision therapy at home, there are not any appointments and no travel necessary to the doctor’s offices.  It’s accomplished within the comfort of home, in an environment a child knows, loves and understands and this can help with the effectiveness of the therapy.

It’s Available Everywhere:  Millions of people on the planet don’t live near a behavioural optometrist and as such don’t have any access to their services, including vision therapy.  But home based therapies are available to parents anyplace on the earth, at any time.  Go to the local optometrist to test the eyes and make sure they are healthy, then they’ll do our therapies at home.

It is Cost Effective:  At a behavioural optometrist vision therapy may cost hundreds of dollars over a number of months, including the visits, the homework and assessments.  is often a way more efficient product, so for the cost of six weeks in office therapy you are able to get an eight month program, for example.

It is Transferable:  is applicable to many children who have learning disabilities, and as such could be transferred to different children as well.  With our program, many parents have involved the siblings of the kid they’re focusing on and been able to see improvement in the learning skills of all children, all for the same price.

It is Fun!  As a father or mother do you take pleasure in spending time together with your learning disabled child trying to do homework?  Is it fun, or is it a battle, possiblly even all-out war!  From your youngster’s point of view, you might be asking them to do something they hate and aren’t any good at, after already spending the entire day at school doing stuff they hate and aren’t any good at!  Any wonder your child reacts with frustration and anger!

However, homework doesn’t have to be like that!  Take the time to train the skills that children need to learn successfully and homework becomes simple and even satisfying!  Helping them learn the skills needed may even change a child’s attitude to homework.  They will also feel they can do the tasks, and feel good about themselves and what they’ll achieve.

Traditional home therapies are boring and lead to just about the identical response from kids that homework does!  That’s why I have spent years designing and researching fun ideas and games that youngsters want to be a part of, but which successfully develop the skills they need to achieve at school.

The right kind of vision therapy at home could be the answer to the issues you face helping your child to learn reading, writing and spelling.

Vision therapy for children has long been looked to as a possible solution to children’s learning disabilities.  However there are various types of vision therapy, ranging from more traditional methods through to ideas which break new ground in their development.  Forward thinking behavioural optometrists are finding that employing both of these is seeing major improvements in children with learning disabilities.

Vision therapy for children

 

Traditional Vision Therapy for Children

 

 

Traditional vision therapy tends to centre on techniques that improve measurable characteristics in the consulting room.  These may have a positive effect on a child’s ability to learn, but at times they may not directly correlate to an improvement in school performance.

 

 

Included in these types of therapies are focus, eye coordination, convergence and some eye movement training, which certainly can help but may not necessarily be translated into increased school performance.  That is not to say that they do not have value, and in optometry terms we can actually measure improvement, but the point is that these types of exercises may not necessarily improve school work.

 

 

A New Breed of Vision Therapy for Children

 

 

There is a fresh and exciting change in vision therapy which is aiming to have a more direct effect on a child’s school performance.  These new training ideas revolve around techniques which the child uses directly in their learning experience, and they are tailor made for children with learning disabilities.

 

 

These newer techniques target things like eye movements, to improve the flow and expression of reading, visualization, to increase the ability of children to learn new spelling words and other developmental areas such as coding, sequencing and directionality.

 

 

This type of vision therapy is yielding real results by increasing the school performance of children because they are developing or coaching the skills children need to perform well in school.

 

 

Combining Both Makes the Best Vision Therapy

 

 

Simply training visual skills may help a child to perform better in school, but if the more traditional aspects of therapy are ignored, the fundamental visual problem will limit improvement.  Therefore, the best approach is to combine both aspects of the vision therapy for children so as to gain maximum improvement both in the optometry office and the classroom.

 

 

I believe that any child struggling in school needs to have a complete behavioural optometry assessment to ensure that any underlying visual problems are dealt with.  Treatment of such problems might include reading lenses or the more traditional vision therapy for children.

 

 

Beyond this, the newer style of vision therapy for children could hold the key for real and sustained improvement in school.  By targeting the skills children use in the classroom, we are able to quickly develop the tools a child needs to learn and improve their school performance.

 

 

This is what most parents want.  A change in the optometry office is good, but an improvement in school performance is what matters most, and this can definitely be helped by using the right vision therapy for children.

Learning Disabilities ResourcesIf you are the parent of a child who is struggling with reading difficulties, you are probably searching for learning disabilities resources all the time, often with limited results.  Why is it that many such resources seem to offer little other than the long, tortuous and painstaking frustration of making a child read over and over again.   If reading is the main source of difficulty for a child, one has to ask the question, “Are most of these resources missing the point?”

Learning Disabilities Resources should be More than Repetition

If you have a child struggling with reading, writing and spelling, simply making them do more of the very task they hate and associate with failure is frustrating and discouraging for both them and you!

It has been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same task over and over expecting a different result, and for many this sums up most learning difficulties help available!  Surely there is a better way to approach things which give some hope and encouragement to our children!

How to Build a Platform for Success

Effective help for learning disabilities must provide a platform for the success of a child struggling to read.  They need to build essential skills which enable reading success, and they need to be interesting, fun and provide a sense of achievement.  They cannot allow the child to fail and struggle, and they need to keep the child motivated to continue.

In short, the best way to provide help that actually works is in the form and games and fun tasks, which somehow build up the skills that children need to succeed.  That is where vision therapy can provide a fantastic alternative to the traditional learning disabilities resources which involve repeated, painful and discouraging tasks.

The Role of Vision Therapy

For over 20 years I have been helping kids with learning disabilities using vision therapy, which is a series of targeted games and fun activities which most children love to do and which help to build essential visual skills.  These exercises and therapies train a child’s vision skills to help them learn more effectively and quickly.  These skills, such as focus, eye coordination, sequencing, coding, visual memory, hand eye coordination and eye tracking lay a groundwork to allow reading success, and they do this in a matter of months and with a lot of fun and enjoyment.

This means that we can provide the skills necessary for a child to read effectively, and do so in a fun and enjoyable environment rather than in a screaming match or tearful environment.  Vision therapy can be done at home, wherever you are in the world, and in a few months you could be seeing an amazing transformation in your child’s ability to read, write and spell.

If you then apply the more typical learning disabilities resources which involve repetitive reading, you will now find that your child has the basic skills necessary, and will start to improve rapidly rather than slowly.

This may sound crazy, but it is true in most areas of life.  We take our kids to football training to learn football skills, to tennis lessons top learn those skills and guitar lessons to learn guitar playing skills… so why not get the right training for your child’s reading skills.  Vision therapy can produce the right results if you take the time to do it correctly.  It is very often the missing link in learning disabilities resources.

Reading Help for ChildrenIf you are searching for a way to provide reading help for children it is often difficult to know where to start.  As you would readily recognize, simply going over and over the same material endlessly does not really provide what your child needs, but rather it compounds the misery of their failure at reading, frustrating both children and parents.  Surely there has to be a better way to provide reading help the children that actually sees results?  There is, and I can show you exactly what you can do to start seeing improvement in your child!

 

Reading Help for Children Must Start at the Basics

 

The reason why so much of the remedial reading  available today is ineffective is because it starts at a level that is too advanced for a child struggling with learning difficulties.  If you have a child with a learning disability, then you will obviously be very keen to get that child reading well as soon as possible.  For this reason, parents and often teachers plunge into reading programs but completely overlook the basics of providing remedial help, which starts with basics such as the eyes.  You cannot build a strong house without a strong foundation, and you cannot provide long term reading help for children without addressing the basic issues and skills that are failing in the reading process.

 

You Need to Build on the Basics

 

This does not mean that we completely neglect words and sentences, because these are the building blocks of reading.  However, if we lay a firm foundation in the basic vision skills that child needs to learn to read, the actual process of deciphering words and sentences and ultimately reading effectively will become easier in the long term.

 

If we want to provide powerful help for children in their reading, we must start with the basics and then build on the basics as the child increases their ability to read.  However, in our eagerness to provide reading help for children, we most often jump to the second phase and overlook the basics but in fact lay the groundwork for future reading success.

 

 Start With Developing the Tools They Need to Read

 

So where do we start in providing effective help for your child that actually works?  As a behavioral optometrist for over 20 years, I believe that vision is a key skill that needs to be developed effectively in order for children to read well, and the success of our treatments really bears that out.  That’s why I have developed a program which trains the basic visual skills required in reading, and is an effective way of developing these skills to provide long-term reading help for kids that will yield academic success, usually in a short period of time.

 

Visual skills such as focusing, like ordination, visualization, eye tracking, sequencing, coding and a host of others can be developed quickly and effectively to provide the basis upon which you can build good reading skills.  I have proven in my own practice time and again that taking a short amount of time out from reading tutoring, and devoting it to the development of these essential visual skills, can yield long-term results in reading, writing and spelling.

 

If we develop these basic skills properly, the effectiveness of reading programs provided by teachers and parents are greatly increased.  Once again, the laying of a proper foundation provides support for the structure that is built upon it, and the right vision therapy can provide that foundation to ensure long-term reading success, because we are training the actual skills they use when they try to read!

 

So I would urge those of you who work with children with learning disabilities to not overlook the training of these basic visual skills, because these will fast track your efforts and ultimately yield far better results that slugging away at remedial reading.

 

Combining the right type of vision therapy with traditional reading help for children could be the formula for success in learning disabilities that you are looking for.

Real reading help for childrenIf you are the parent of a child with learning disabilities, reading help for children may seem like an enigma.  In fact, if doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results is a definition for insanity, then most reading programs for children may look like insanity to you!  If you are struggling for ways to help your child, you may be asking yourself, “Is there a better way?”

Standard Reading Help For Children

 

The most common way of providing reading help for kids is tutoring, which involves a dedicated teacher or tutor drilling the child over and over again in an attempt to break through and improve their learning disability.  There is no doubt that this method can work, but it is a long, painful and difficult way to provide help.  The question arises, is there a better way?

 

While I applaud and support the many dedicated tutors and reading teachers across the world who work hard to produce results with their kids, I also recognize that providing any type of reading help is a long and painful process.  As a behavioral optometrist, my calling is to make of this process easier, more palatable and more effective.

 

How Visual Development Provides Reading Help For Children

 

I am not an educator, and that is why I do not provide the standard reading help for children which tutors and teachers are so good at.  However, I have found a way which will make the methods offered by teachers and tutors more effective. There is no magic involved, but has to do with enhancing the visual development of a child with learning disabilities to help them produce their maximum potential when it comes to learning to read.

 

Vision is the dominant sense in the classroom, and it is also the basic sense is used when reading.  Therefore it makes sense that, if we can improve the visual skills of a child, we can provide real help for children with their reading, writing and spelling.  This makes the standard methods more powerful and easier to implement.

 

The great news is that this means relief for parents and teachers who pound away, day after day, week after week, month after month trying to help a child who is struggling improve their reading performance.  The answer is not to continuously do it over and over again expecting a different result: the answer is to try something new!

 

Reading Help From the Ground Up!

 

If standard reading methods are not breaking through, it is likely that the child has not developed some of the basic skills needed to do the tasks.  While these skills may develop slowly over time, it makes sense that training these basic visual skills will give them the tools they need to improve their reading ability far quicker than constant repetition.  The real question is, “What are these skills and how can we develop them rapidly?”

 

The development of certain basic visual skills are required to provide real reading help for children.  These visual skills include eye coordination, focus, eye movements, sequencing, visual memory, coding and a whole host of other skills.  Simple reading glasses or constant repetition may help some of these, but a child with learning disabilities will still be struggling if these are not developed quickly.

 

That is why I have developed a vision therapy program specifically targeting the development of these basic vision skills.  These can be enhanced by a number of exercises and games which directly target the skills that are required to lay the platform for real and sustainable reading help for children.

 

So if you want to help your child, the answer is not to do the same things over and over expecting a different result.  Take some time out to develop the necessary visual skills, and your child will improve more rapidly.  Targeted vision therapy can provide real reading help for children far more effectively than mind numbing repetition.

Reading Help for Children