Vision in the Classroom: Time to Open Our Eyes
Vision problems are present in every classroom. Children will work with what they’ve got and take it for granted that every other child in the room has exactly the same visual experiences. Only nearsighted children and those with extreme visual concerns such as turned eyes or heavy squinting will be noticed. For the majority of children with visual impediments to learning, they will continue to struggle and many of these problems will be misdiagnosed as behaviour, attention, learning, and reading concerns and treated accordingly.
Vision assessment is routine for visual developmental specialists, and is cost-effective – probably the greatest ROI for any single intervention in medicine and education. In spite of epidemic levels of visual dysfunction and the great visual demands schools make of children’s vision, the status quo makes no requirement for vision assessment for early learners. We are however, quite happy to continue to apply millions in resources annually towards inappropriate medical and learning therapies to what are visual concerns.
Unmanaged visual dysfunction impacts heavily upon individuals and families, and adds unnecessary burdens to healthcare and education. There is strong evidence to suggest it also has a heavy cost in policing and prisons.
By not addressing visual concerns through mandatory visual examinations for all students, consequences follow:
- Children’s rights are offended.
- Money is wasted on medical, pscyhological, and educational interventions.
- Results of pscyhological and neuropscychological testing is invalidated if conducted prior to vision assessment and remediation of serious visual impediment.
- Families struggle and fracture under the weight of problems at school.
- Children lose life opportunities.
- Children undergo unnecessary and invasive medical and psychological investigations.
- Children’s self-worth is compromised as they undergo inappropriate and unnecessary testing and training.
- Children’s social standing is compromised when they have to excluded from the greater group for unnecessary or fruitless supplemental activities.
In conclusion, research shows us that
>Vision problems interfere with reading, learning, and behaviour.
>Most common developmental concerns including ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, are most often accompanied by significant deficiencies in visual signal acquisition and visual information processing skills.
>Vision development is hierarchical. Strong visual perceptual and motor skills are reliant upon a solid foundation of varied experiences with touch, gross and fine motor control, balance and gravity, locomotion, bilateral integration, laterality and directionality, and other multimodal experiences such as auditory-visual integration through music.
>The lack of opportunity for varied physical experience, such as described above, will impede development and academic outcomes, while therapeutic exposure to these will assist in boosting achievement in children who struggle.
Visual Neurorehabilitation and Learning Therapy provide excellent therapeutic means of achieving significant forward movement with even difficult cases, and generally within a fairly short period of time. The visual status of the child remains the cornerstone of classroom learning, however, and must be addressed at the outset to ensure no unnecessary obstacles to health and learning are present.