Specialized eye exams for children with special needs
Approximately 1 in 59 children are affected with autism spectrum disorder by age 8, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Typically, autism is associated with a range of visual deficits that affect learning and development. Optometry therefore has a lot to offer kids with autism and special needs.
Parents don’t always realize that an eye exam is essential for a child who is experiencing learning problems. So much of what we learn in school and life is done through the visual system. Therefore, it makes sense that if a child with autism is having trouble with learning and processing, a poor connection between the brain and visual system may be to blame. To improve the functioning of patients with autism, we offer optometric vision therapy in North Edmonton, Downtown Edmonton, and Sherwood Park, Alberta.
Special needs eye exams
Often, parents and children don’t realize the extent of a child’s visual problems and how they affect learning. One reason for this is because a standard eye screening isn’t sufficient to detect many visual disorders; a complete developmental evaluation is necessary. At our eye car centres in North Edmonton, Downtown Edmonton, and Sherwood Park, we perform detailed assessments of the visual-motor system, paying special attention to the specific symptoms associated with autism:
- Not making eye contact
- Wandering eyes
- Trouble focusing on an object or obsessive focusing
- Straining when maintaining attention
- Lack of impulse control
- Extreme awareness of surroundings
- Light sensitivity
- Poor depth perception
Vision therapy for patients with special needs
When some or all of the above symptoms are present, we usually recommend custom-designed vision therapy to transform reflexive behavior. Exercises typically include simple age-appropriate actions to improve the brain’s ability to control eye teaming, mobility, focusing, alignment, and visual processing. When these visual skills are strengthened, it will be easier for the patient to read, comprehend, and enjoy the surrounding world.
Prepare for eye exams for children with autism
Before evaluating the visual system of people with special needs, it’s a good idea to prepare the patient and the eye doctor for the visit and examination:
- If possible, bring your child with autism to see the eye care clinic and meet the staff in advance. The results of the eye exam will be more accurate when the child feels comfortable and calm – and not scared. In addition to familiarizing the patient with the office, you can also familiarize the eye care team with the patient’s needs.
- Read and tell stories about going to the eye doctor
- Try to book the first appointment of the day, so you know you won’t have an unexpected wait time once you arrive.
- If your child is sensitive to lighting, discuss dimming the lights with the eye doctor; if you know that a particular toy or music will calm the patient, bring it along.
At Village Eye Centre, we put your family's needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 587-410-5920 or book an appointment online to see one of our North Edmonton eye doctors.
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