Does Your Child Have an Undiagnosed Vision Problem?
by Lizzy Parker
Few would guess that Alex has, age nine, has a visual dysfunction. He is the best reader in his fourth grade classroom and loves to borrow books from the library.
Yesterday afternoon, when Alex came back home from school, after throwing his knapsack at the entrance of the house, taking a quick snack and a cup of cold orange juice, he waved bye bye to me and went straight to the public library to sit in his little “haven”. After sinking to the floor, leaning against a bookcase, and facing the blank wall, he buries his nose in the books and nothing in this world can move him from there for at least one hour.
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He loves it at the library because it’s quiet, he doesn’t need to squint or get headaches. Also, they have full-spectrum light bulbs in the ceiling, in contrast to the flickering fluorescent lights in the classrooms and all the noise in the background at school. Here, in his quiet corner, there is no sunlight glimmering through the blinds, nor does she have other side bothersome noises.
In the classroom, on the other hand, it’s so very hard for him:
There is a truck going down the street, birds singing on the tree below, the teacher of the class next door is screaming at one of the kids really loud. With all those distractions he looses focus on what the teacher is saying.
Then, of course, the sunlight goes in a specific angle that makes it really hard for him to see the board. The fluorescent lights are a continual strain on his eyes. Sometimes he wishes that someone would just shut them off.
I love Alex. He’s a great kid. I wish that someone would force the teachers to take a course in which they have to sit in the students’ places for a month and ‘feel their difficulties’ so that they could better understand them. Perhaps then they would be more pleasant to Alex.
Vision and hearing are two very important senses, but let’s just expand on the vision angle for this article:
The visual system a complex sensory system that enables us to identify sights, anticipate what is coming at us, and prepare an appropriate response. Through vision we track movements so we can protect ourselves. We use sight to guide and direct our actions so we can interact with our environment, socialize with others, and learn new information.
The stimulus that triggers vision is light or a change in light. For example, when we go to the eye doctor, he checks our eyes is by directing a light at them and making it go on and off or stronger and weaker as needed.
Vision allows us to process information in time and space and to do so very quickly. “A picture is worth a thousand words” is a very cute saying, but it is a gross understatement. Words can never capture what vision can. Also, language is sequential. One word follows the other until you hear the complete statement. Vision is instantaneous. You see everything with one glance.
We are born with sight. We develop vision. As we grow we learn to make sense of what we see through experience, which is the basis of all learning. We learn to integrate vision with our other senses to provide us a complex picture of our environment. This is called sensory integration.
The ability to smell freshly baked onion rolls and know what they look and taste like, is the happy result of sensory integration.
Our well integrated senses give us so many happy childhood memories. These are memories that I will cherish forever. These are memories that I want Alex to have.
Anthony Kane, MD
P S Please leave a comment because I would really like to get your reaction to this.
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