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Learning Disabilities, Dyslexia, and Vision

By: Reading Rockets
The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and the Council on Children with Disabilities published a statement summarizing what is currently known about visual problems and dyslexia. The statement also covers what treatments are and are not recommended when diagnosing and treating vision problems, learning disabilities, and dyslexia.

Thanks to advances in imaging techniques and scientific inquiry, we now know much more about learning disabilities (LD), dyslexia, and the role of vision problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the Council on Children with Disabilities, and the American Academy of Ophthalmology published a joint statement that summarizes what is currently known about visual problems and dyslexia. The statement also covers what treatments are and are not recommended when diagnosing and treating vision problems, learning disabilities, and dyslexia.

The eyes play an important role in sending visual signals to the brain, and a lot of information presented at school is presented visually. For these reasons, it's important to make sure your child is able to see well and correctly. Schools often do vision screenings at the beginning of the year, and your pediatrician's office can refer you to an ophthalmologist with experience in caring for children. However, vision problems are not the cause of dyslexia or learning disabilities. The federal definition of learning disabilities is careful to state that the learning disabilities do not include learning problems that are primarily due to visual difficulties.

Because vision problems do not cause dyslexia or learning disabilities, treating LD or dyslexia through approaches such as eye exercises, behavioral vision therapy, or special tinted filters or lenses won't help. Therapies and treatments like those described are not supported by scientific evidence, and are not recommended or endorsed.

There are several recommendations that do support the needs of children:

  • Children who show signs of learning disabilities should be referred as early as possible for further testing.
  • The diagnosis and treatment of learning disabilities depends on the collaboration of a team that may include teachers, audiologists, speech therapists, physicians, and others.
  • Children with identified learning disabilities should receive appropriate support and individualized evidence-based educational interventions combined with psychological and medical treatments as needed.
Reading Rockets (2010)

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Comments

Please cite the scientific study associated with this article. As a parent of a Dyslexic student with co-morbid convergence insufficiency (CI) I can only say this article is poppy cock. Parent who have children who have used Vision Therapy to remediate vision/reading/dyslexia problems and symtomology can only comment on the actual results their children attained through vision therapy, which are incredible. Show me any actual scientic evidence and studies to the contrary...........Carol Sadler, IEPadvocate4you

It is cited and a link to the joint statement is provided in the box as "additional information" at the end of the article.

Well, for those of us who have provided Vision Therapy for our Dyslexic children, we KNOW differently. The joint statement is NOT scientific data, and contains NONE.However, in the Archives of Ophthalmology, Vol. 126, No. 10, October 2008 in Randomoized Clinical Trial of Treatments for Symptomatic Convergence Insufficiencey in Children, it was concluded vision therapy resulted in significantly greater improvement in symptoms.here is a statement from the provided joint statement in the article "Other than convergence-insufficiency treatment,70–73,79,81,95,96 scientific evidence does not support the assumption that vision therapy is capable of correctingsubtle visual defects,† nor does it prove eye exercises or behavioral vision therapy to be effective direct or indirect treatments for learning disabilities.‡This statement in the joint statement in of itself certainly seems to contradict their conclusion to me. Here is the full joint statement:"http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/reprint/124/2/837Not all children with Dyslexia have a co-morbid CI, however those that do, do benefit from vision therapy.....they stated it themselves.....Carol Sadler, IEPadvocate4you

A large percentage of the kids who use our dyslexia course have mild eye-tracking difficulties which can have a huge effect on their reading ability and comfort. Ten days of simple exercises does the trick in most cases, followed by a low maintenance regime when necessary. Thanks for the article!

I think what the article is trying to clarify is that Dyslexia is not a visual problem. Some people with Dyslexia may have additional problems like tracking difficulties or visually reversing letters however it is not what is causing the Dyslexia. I am Dyslexic and have no visual problems at all. Hope that helps.

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