Learning Disabilities And Eye Problems

Learning disabilities (LDs) affect between 17% and 20% of the population. Proper and timely treatment of the LD can help the child overcome the challenges he faces in the classroom and enable him to maximize his potential. Early detection of the LD allows parents and teachers to help the child develop the necessary skills he needs in order to overcome the LD. Understanding the LD helps parents support their child and their understanding is imperative to the child's normal development.

What is an LD?
Defining a learning disability is complex. An child who consistently tries and fails to develop the learning skills expected of his age and intelligence level is diagnosed with an LD. The LDs originate in the brain and manifest in the acquisition (or lack thereof) of basic skill sets: reading, writing, math, language skills, speech and more. Some children suffer from LDs in a variety of fields, while others only suffer from one or two.

Having an LD does not indicate inferior intelligence. Children who are diagnosed later on suffer more. LDs do not fix themselves rather, the children are taught different skills in order to overcome their disabilities.

Is there a connection between LDs and Eyesight?
We recommend that any child diagnosed with an LD should have a comprehensive eye exam. Eye problems can make it harder for the child to overcome his disability. However, most children with vision problems do not suffer from LDs.

When are LDs 'discovered'?
LDs can be found in the early days of your child's academic career, or earlier. The following problems are usually discovered earlier, during preschool:

  • Language and thinking skills: late development, poor vocabulary, memory problems, inability to remember names, colors, numbers, shapes, letters and more.
  • Math: inability to spot or remember patterns or understand numbers.
  • ADHD
  • Motor skills/Visual skills: problems with fine motor skills

The following are LDs generally discovered in elementary school:

  • Reading and writing: difficulty with the connection between letters and their sounds, difficulty developing reading skills, slow reader, switching letters and words, guesses based on context, difficulty with reading comprehension
  • Language and thinking skills: poor vocabulary, difficulty composing sentences, difficulty with verbal expression, difficulty organizing solutions
  • Math: difficulty with math problems and calculation techniques
  • ADHD
  • Motor Skills: difficulty holding a pencil and writing, fine motor skill difficulties, bad handwriting

Who can help my child?
The teacher is the first person that will offer help for your child. The teacher will most likely be the one who identifies your child's difficulty. The guidance counselor can also help identify your child's difficulties and refer you for further evaluation. In addition s/he will help coordinate your child's special needs with the school. Most schools also have a psychologist who helps children with LDs. The didactic profiler will evaluate your child and diagnose the type of LD. Many schools also employ special teachers to work with children with LDs.

Eye exercises do not treat LDs
Many parents look for additional methods to help their children and are recommended to try visual training or vision therapy. These eye exercises are meant to fix or improve eye problems and problems processing images. There is no scientific proof that these exercises successfully treat LDs. Most studies show that the problems originate in the brain and not, as commonly believed the eye. Some children who have used these techniques have been successful, however there are no medical studies that prove the effectiveness of these techniques. These techniques can harm the process your child goes through and take time, effort and money.