As most of you know my oldest daughter (8 1/2) has a Vision Processing Disorder. I have seen lately, through my stat counter, that there are a lot of people searching for symptoms of a Vision Processing Disorder (VPD), so I thought I’d give some symptoms. Keep in mind that I am not a doctor, do not pretend to be one, have never played one on tv and I did not sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night. lol These are some of the symptoms that I and the school noticed in my daughter that told us she needed a vision screening/evaluation.
Just because a child has a VPD does not make them dumb or behind in regular activities. In fact my daughter was extremely advanced for her age as a baby and toddler. She’s a very bright kid but just has difficulty with reading, comprehension, written expression, visual memory and short term memory. Her eyes just do not work together as they should but by looking at her you would have no idea, which is why I never knew why she was having problems in school. She looks healthy, she has no developmental delays and acts age appropriately. However, when it comes to school and reading she has a lot of problems.
Some of her symptoms are:
- Mixing up letters (i.e. ‘d’ and ‘b’)
- Mixing up words by changing letters around (i.e. ‘saw’ and ‘was’)
- After she reads a story she cannot always tell me in detail what the story was about.
- Skipping words, letters or paragraphs when reading.
- When writing she will start off on the left hand side of the page but as she continues her new lines start going more toward the middle of the page instead of staying on the left hand side.
- She would get headaches during and after reading.
I’ve also noticed while my daughter is reading out loud to me that she often replaces words with other words, skips complete lines and at times even starts making up new sentences. I talked to her Vision Therapist about this and she says she makes up new words or sentences to help everything make sense. So that is something we are still working on as well.
Keep in mind that she also has ADD/ADHD so there are many other factors that brought so much of this out. Not having the patience to sit and read, being easily distracted by others, sounds, etc. This only worsened her VPD symptoms.
After receiving some Occupational Therapy for some sensory issues we were referred to see a Visual Therapist for an eye check and visual evaluation. It was then found that she has excellent 20/20 vision but does have a VPD mostly from a focus issue. Please keep in mind that just because someone has a Vision Processing Disorder it does not necessarily mean that they have bad eyesight. Like I said before, my daughter has perfect eyesight. She started to receive Visual Therapy and goes in once a week for 45 minutes. So far she has made wonderful progress. Yes, it can be expensive but when it comes to your child’s well being and future success it is totally worth it.
There are many things that her Visual Therapist does with her each week to help her eyes start to work together better. She favors her entire right side so they try to get her left as strong as her right. This is also why when she writes, her new lines begin to move in away from the left hand side of the paper.
The best advice I can give you until you make an appointment to get your child evaluated is:
- Buy a Reading Guide Strip that your child can either place the highlighted area over the words in the book or underneath the sentence to keep their eyes focused on the line they should be reading.
- Reading to your child is always important. Point to the words as you read and at times ask them to sound out some of the words or say, ‘Hmm…what is this word?’ and have them answer you.
- Having your child read to you aloud, while you follow along, is a good idea as well. This way you can see where their strengths and weaknesses are. This will also educate you a little when it comes time for your child’s evaluation.
- Remind your child to read slow and look carefully at each word.
- Pausing every now and then to talk about what is going on in the story will help your child with comprehension, visual memory and their short term memory as well. Helping them come up with a visual of what they’re reading about can help drastically. (i.e. A story about a horse who is lost in the woods. Help your child create a mental visual of the scene. What color is the horse? Is it dark in the woods? What sounds do you think the horse is hearing, etc.)
- Sometimes just pausing to ask your child what is going on is a good idea just to see how much they’re picking up from the story. If your child says, ‘well the cat was hiding in a box.’ when the cat was actually in his bed sleeping, then you know that your child is not comprehending the story well and may have a comprehension issue as well.
As frustrating as it can be when your child is having a difficulty with something always remember that they are young. Children love to please adults, especially parents to show and prove to them that they are getting bigger and smarter. Please, whatever you do, do not make your child feel stupid or embarrassed over anything when it comes to learning. Even if they are behind, get them the help they need and always encourage them appropriately to do their best and try harder next time, practice makes perfect. Being too hard, mean and embarrassing them will only cause them to feel bad about themselves for something they cannot control and make them self conscious.
To read more about Vision Therapy please click here.