The widespread “learning disability” you’ve never heard of
Shared, with commentary, is a recently published parenting essay that perfectly describes a story we hear far too often. A family sensing a “puzzle piece” is missing, despite being told their child has 20/20 vision. “I felt like we were missing a puzzle piece. It…
Shared, with commentary, is a recently published parenting essay that perfectly describes a story we hear far too often. A family sensing a “puzzle piece” is missing, despite being told their child has 20/20 vision.
“I felt like we were missing a puzzle piece. It just seemed so unlikely that typical ADHD symptoms, like poor focus, could drive such extreme avoidance. When a friend suggested Luke might need glasses, I dismissed it: “He has 20/20 vision.”
Seeing small letters at 20 feet away, while critical, is not the measure that is most accurately aligned with academic success. In today’s near-centred world, how our eyes perform and function up close often matters far more.
“It turns out he has spent his whole life deciphering printed characters that are blurry, doubled, moving, or even floating. It requires a tremendous amount of energy for Luke to interpret up-close material. Nearly all activities are impaired, from reading and writing to lining up math problems, to following a hockey puck and blocking a soccer ball shot on goal.”
One of the most surprising lessons I’ve learned in this career, is that children will almost never describe how they see words on the page, unless specifically questioned and prompted. For many parents, the first time they learn that their child sees words as moving and doubling happens right within our exam room.
“And here’s the rub: kids don’t know it’s not normal to see double letters and adults have no reason to ask.”
Parents are often astounded to learn the prevalence and frequency of these challenges – and in nearly all situations are delighted to learn that there are very effective solutions.
“One optometrist told us around 10% of the population has these types of visual deficiencies, which seemed high for a problem I’d barely heard of, even as I was digging deep into the special-needs world. The disorder is often missed or misdiagnosed as dyslexia. Most schools and pediatricians screen for distance vision, which won’t catch it.”
What is fortunate however, for those who are screened and assessed in a timely manner, is that nearly all cases of eye tracking, teaming and focusing deficits are 100% treatable – and set forth a path for blossoming academic confidence and success.
“It’s not too late for my boy—I know that. I just wish I had asked him, at some point, to describe what he saw on the page.”
Many thanks to this brave parent, for sharing a journey that has all too often become the norm. If you or a loved one suspect a “puzzle piece” may be missing, impacting a child’s academic success, be sure to ask them the 15 questions outlined on our SCREENING TEST. Years of academic hardship and difficulty may very well be avoided.
Until next month,
Paul Rollett, OD, FCOVD