Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Vision problems misdiagnosed as behavior disorders

At the beginning of the school year, many children showing signs of learning and behavioral issues will undergo testing for common disorders such as ADD, ADHD, and dyslexia. Visual dysfunctions – problems with eye coordination, focus, and tracking – can limit a child’s concentration, self-esteem, and school success, much like the aforementioned disorders.

However, 20/20 vision testing, also commonly administered test at the beginning of the school year, does not detect such dysfunctions. By certain estimates, 20% of school age children in the US are affected by visual dysfunctions, which in many cases are misdiagnosed as learning or behavioral disorders.

"Commonly prescribed medicine may promote more predictable child behavior, but if that behavior is driven by visual dysfunction, the child will continue to experience limited comprehension and will still know that something isn’t quite right," says Dr. Joel Warshowsky, a behavioral optometrist and author of the new book How Behavioral Optometry Can Unlock Your Child’s Potential.

Through his two practices in New York City and New Jersey, Dr. Warshowsky conducts visual tests to detect dysfunctions and offers vision therapy, a combination of optometric technique and behavior modification to improve the way the eye and brain link perform, to correct the problem. Through vision therapy, many children no longer need medication, experience a renewed sense of confidence and progress through school with greater ease.

As children return to school, it is an opportune time to raise awareness amongst parents of visual dysfunctions and the possibility that such dysfunctions could be at the root of behavioral or learning issues instead of commonly diagnosed disorders such as ADD, ADHD, and dyslexia.

Dr. Warshowsky indicated that the various types of visual dysfunctions can be the root of behavioral and learning disabilities, thus having an adverse effect on children’s self-esteem and confidence.

Visual dysfunctions can be misdiagnosed behavioral issues and learning disabilities such as ADD, ADHD, or dyslexia, thus potentially leading to mistreatment and over-medication, he said.

He recommends vision therapy to redevelop visual function through enhanced eye coordination, focus, and subsequent perceptual and motor development, by retraining and reframing messages that the brain sends to the eye.

His book How Behavioral Optometry Can Unlock Your Child’s Potential describes some of the exercises and tools involved during the vision therapy process. It also recommends that parents seek research behavioral optometrists to see if visual dysfunctions are at the root of their child's behavioral or learning issues.

How Behavioral Optometry Can Unlock Your Child’s Potential: Identifying and Overcoming Blocks to Concentration, Self-Esteem and School Success with Vision Therapy can be purchased from www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, www.jkp.com and through all major booksellers.

Dr. Warshowsky's Website: http://www.drjoelwarshowsky.com

See earlier article at http://livingbetteronline.blogspot.com/2012/07/the-misdiagnosed-child.html

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