One in 59 children is estimated to have autism spectrum disorder by the age of eight, according to the CDC. People with ASD are neuro-divergent, meaning that their style of social interaction, communication, development, and learning may differ significantly from their peers. Children on the spectrum can benefit greatly from developmental eye care.
Numerous studies demonstrate that neuro-diverse children, and children on the spectrum specifically have a higher incidence of developmental vision problems such as strabismus, convergence, accommodation, stereopsis, and oculomotor function. It is therefore extremely important to schedule a developmental eye exam to assess the full scope of visual processes.
Early detection and treatment of visual deficits in children with autism improves their educational and occupational opportunities.
Are you looking for an optometrist near you who is sensitive and knowledgeable about helping the neuro-diverse community? We welcome you to schedule a developmental eye exam. Our optometrists have extensive experience, the latest technology, advanced treatments, and a neuro-diverse friendly approach to provide advanced care to patients with ASD, Downs, Cerebral Palsy, Non-Verbal Learning Disorder, and all members of the neuro-diverse community.
This article was originally written by Dr. Carl Garbus of Amplify EyeCare Santa Clarita and published by the American Optometric Association.
There is so much that eye doctors can do to help children with developmental disabilities. Eye doctors can play an important role in exposing and presenting this information to parents, as many don't realize that a child with learning problems needs a visual examination.
Approximately 70% to 80% of what we learn is through our visual system. If a child is having difficulty learning, there may be a visual disconnect or a poor integration with auditory and vestibular systems. Through proper vision therapy, visual, auditory, and vestibular systems work together more efficiently, and this facilitates learning. Occupational therapy and optometric vision rehabilitation can improve the functioning of autistic children significantly. The therapy program emphasizes multi-sensory stimulation.
Sensory overload can be a challenge for children on the autism spectrum as well as doctors of optometry. They must be taken care of at an optometry practice.
Children with autism are afraid of doctors and do not want to go to them. Therefore, you should bring toys, books, games, whatever your child enjoys, to the evaluation. The exam room is child-friendly, with a variety of toys and videos to occupy and soothe children. It provides our eye doctor with an opportunity to observe their behavior as they play with whatever object they are interested in.
Such children may be sensitive to bright light and other things. Therefore, we do not do our evaluation in a hurry. We take time to understand the child's needs and make appropriate modifications to meet them.
We try to learn about the patient's history. By sending a questionnaire to the parents early, we try to obtain the necessary information before the appointment. Because parents are the ones who spend the most time with their child. In that questionnaire, parents are asked to fill out an extensive symptoms checklist. Below are some examples of questions that could be included in the questionnaire:
We also inquire about the child’s pediatrician and what types of treatments the child is currently receiving. We also collaborate with other health care providers, including occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech therapists, in order to better understand the child's behavior and provide better care.
Many parents are not aware that children with autism suffer from learning problems and need a developmental eye exam with our eye doctor. About 70-80% of what we learn is through our vision. Problems with their vision will affect their ability to read and comprehend. Through vision therapy, it is possible to improve the learning of children with special needs. To schedule a developmental eye exam, you can reach out to your nearest Amplify EyeCare practice either via a call or in-person visit.