Vision training allows children with autism to strengthen an essential source of obtaining information, the vision system. By improving this system, their daily life can improve, and tasks that were once difficult may become easier.
What is Vision Training?
Vision training aims to heighten and develop neural pathways related to motor control, balance, and proprioception, which is the awareness of your current position and movement in space.
In addition to the above benefits, vision training also helps to enhance perception and the processing of incoming visual information.
The four conditions which respond well to vision training include eye-tracking, eye-teaming, accommodation reflex, and visual processing disorders.
Autism and Vision
A large percentage of the autistic population has some type of vision problem. In some cases, these vision problems can lead to the symptoms commonly associated with those who have autism.
Autism itself is a type of neurological disorder that is commonly considered a behavioral syndrome. Because of the way a child with autism’s brain is wired, they often have difficulty with processing and responding to information obtained through their senses, in addition to social and communication difficulties.
Those with autism very commonly have visual problems, such as lack of eye contact, fleeting peripheral glances, and side viewing.Many areas of an individual’s life are related to the visual system, including motor, speech, cognitive, and perceptual abilities, so difficulty with the visual system can reflect into all these aspects as well.
How Can Vision Training Help Children with Autism?
When it comes to processing information, the brain has to consider three different variables: what is it, where is it, and where am I? The brain requires this for every single task that it completes, so it needs to be able to receive and process the information provided to it quickly to keep up with the outside world.
These second two aspects involve ambient vision, which is not so much what you see, but where you are seeing it in relation to where you are. It plays a significant role in depth perception, and those with autism commonly experience a deficit in this type of vision. So, while those with autism can see the world perfectly clearly, they have difficulty processing what they see in relation to themselves.
Vision training improves the neural pathways responsible for proprioception, or the awareness of your current position in regard to the objects surrounding you, helping to improve depth perception.
Some people with autism may find that they use information obtained through visual means inefficiently. One problem that is common involves difficulty in coordinating central and side vision. Many people with autism may find that once they gain central focus, they ignore side vision and remain fixated on a task for an extended period of time. This poor integration of central and peripheral visual input results in difficulty with processing information.
Many people with autism also have eye teaming disorders, which involves the eye’s ability to work as a team. If one eye moves while the other does not, it can become difficult to focus on an image and obtain the necessary information. Some problems that arise from this include difficulty with eye/hand coordination, eye contact, and depth perception.
Vision training is able to strengthen the skills needed for these tasks and is especially beneficial for those with eye-teaming issues. While vision training is not a treatment for autism, it does help to address some areas where those with autism might struggle, allowing them to go about their daily lives more easily.
If you are interested in learning more about how vision training can help those with autism, reach out to Abbey Neuropsychology Clinic for more information.
Sources https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/convergence-insufficiency/symptoms-causes/syc-20352735  https://autismsociety.org/  https://www.abbeyneuropsychologyclinic.com/services/vision-training/