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Vision Therapy for Autism (ASD)

Vision Therapy for Autism (ASD)

When it comes to autism (also referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD), most people are familiar with the learning disabilities suffered by those with the condition. However, less well understood are vision issues which can also be caused by it.

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Vision Therapy for Autism (ASD) Optometrist
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Vision and Autism

Autism, also referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental condition most often characterized by behavioral, social, and communication deficits. In addition, people with autism can have problems with their sensory integration, which can affect several areas of function, including the visual system. Correcting visual problems, especially when combined with more standard treatment for autism, can lead to a greatly improved quality of life.

If vision problems are left untreated, it can exacerbate problems caused by their autism, and make those problems harder to correct in the future.

What Vision Issues are Associated with Autism?

What Vision Issues are Associated with Autism?

While people with autism won’t always suffer from vision issues, they often appear together, and can further impact their quality of life by making certain important tasks even more challenging. In particular, people with ASD may have vision issues in several areas, including:

Maintaining eye contact

Properly processing reactions to visual stimuli

Eye tracking

Peripheral vision

Eye alignment

What Can Vision Therapy Do for Autism Patients?

What Can Vision Therapy Do for Autism Patients?

Vision therapy is treatment designed to enhance the neurological link between the eyes and brain to help correct a wide range of vision issues. For people with ASD, it can help them better process what they see and thus have an easier time interacting with their environment.

Research has shown that vision therapy can help improve eye contact, visual attention, eye tracking, visual-spatial awareness, and posture and balance in people with autism. Vision therapy can also help with conditions such as lazy eye and strabismus, which are more common among those on the spectrum, along with other problems that impact eye mechanics and visual processing.

Improving vision skills can also help autism patients with other skills in which vision plays a major role, such as fine motor skills, balance, hand-eye coordination, and depth perception.

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What is the Treatment Like?

What is the Treatment Like?

The treatment process begins with a functional vision exam, designed to detect any underlying vision issues and help our doctor formulate a personalized treatment plan. Our staff understands that conducting vision tests on people with autism, especially children, can be more challenging, but their extensive experience has given them the skills needed to make sure things run smoothly.

 

Once our doctor has prepared a treatment plan, therapy sessions can begin. They are usually weekly meetings, and specialized exercises and vision devices will be used in the process of training, or re-training, the patients to use their vision skills to overcome whatever issues they were having.

How Long Does Treatment Take?

As with the specifics of the treatment plan itself, the amount of time required for treatment varies on a case by case basis, largely based on the severity of the vision issues being treated. The treatment period can be as short as a few weeks, or require several months. However, even in cases where the total time required is longer, you should start to see noticeable improvements relatively early in the process.

What Vision Issues are Associated with Autism?
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Common Questions

Lazy eye, medically termed amblyopia, is a condition where one eye does not develop vision properly and is weaker than the other. It is primarily a visual disorder and not a direct symptom of autism. However, some individuals with autism may have concurrent visual problems, including lazy eye. It's crucial to consult an eye doctor or optometrist if one suspects any vision issues, including amblyopia. A functional eye exam can help determine the underlying causes and recommend appropriate vision therapy, if needed.
Visual learning refers to the process by which individuals gather information and understand their surroundings predominantly through visual means. For many individuals with autism, visual learning can be a primary mode of understanding and interacting with the world. They might rely more on visual cues and information compared to verbal or auditory ones. Vision therapy, provided by an optometrist, can support and enhance these visual skills, making it easier for individuals with autism to process and interpret visual information. It emphasizes the importance of a functional eye exam to ensure that visual pathways are optimized for learning.
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Summary

While vision therapy is not a cure for autism, due to the fact that people with ASD often have vision issues along with it, treating these problems can significantly improve their quality of life, especially when done alongside general autism treatment and other forms of therapy. If you suspect your child with autism may also be suffering from a vision issue, contact us today to schedule a functional vision exam. To schedule a functional vision exam, you can reach out to your nearest Amplify EyeCare practice either via a call or in-person visit. Our team of eye care professionals is ready and equipped to provide you with the care you need.

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