Teaching Children with Autism: Optometry and Behavioural Optometry
A couple of weeks ago, I attended a presentation by an Optometrist, Dr. Patricia Fink, whose interest in vision goes far beyond achieving 20/20 vision. Quoting Dr. Fink:
“Vision is a set of skills and abilities, of which 20/20 vision is [not] the only one. Other necessary skills include eye teaming, focusing, eye movements, visual perception, visual information processing and integrating vision [with the] other senses.”
‘The five most common vision problems include: 1. Delayed or incomplete vision development. 2. Focusing and eye-teaming problems. 3. Eye movement control and visual tracking. 4. Amblyopia [Lazy Eye] and/or Strabismus [Wandering Eye]. 5. Visual perception and visual information processing.” The latter includes form discrimination, spacial relations, figure ground, visual closure, form consistency, and visual memory.
“Optometric physicians through routine use of glasses or contact lenses manage many of the vision problems that affect learning and performance. There are, however, some vision problems which cannot be solved by glasses or contacts alone, and vision therapy may be needed. While not all eye doctors offer vision therapy, they can easily refer you to an optometric physician who provides this service.”
“Optometric vision therapy consists of a series of procedures designed to improve the specific visual skills and perceptual abilities underlying the learning process.”
I am hold that the cost is roughly equivalent to orthodontic work; and I have no personal experience to tell me whether or not it is helpful to children with autism (or any other children, for that matter). On the other hand, an examination that includes tracking eye movements is relatively cheap, and I can see how eyes that don’t work together could make it hard to see properly.