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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.