Signs & Symptoms

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Signs & Symptoms

It's important to remember that a child rarely complains of visual disturbance when they look at a page of print because, as far as they are concerned, everyone also sees the text shifting and wobbling like they do. So children need to be observed carefully and be asked probing questions to find out what's really going on.

Some of the commonest observations of visually related learning difficulties include:

  • Holding the book too close or moving to and fro.
  • Screwing up up or rubbing eyes, which may appear red and/or watery.
  • Slow reading with frequent losses of place and the need to keep a finger under each word.
  • Reluctant reader, who easily losses attention.
  • Reversal and confusions made in reading, guessing words from the first letter alone.
  • Right/Left confusion.
  • Unusually easily distracted.
  • Covers one eye when reading.
  • Clumsy and poorly coordinated when throwing and catching a ball.
  • Headaches, eyestrain and more general fatigue by the end of a school day than their peers.
  • Blurred print or text 'dancing' on the page.
  • A child who learns to read easily with single lines of large sized text in Reception and Year 1, but who doesn't get on so well when they progress to 'chapter' books with smaller, more compact print.
  • Slow copying from board in classroom, with frequent errors made.
  • Untidy handwriting, often very small and variable.
  • Difficulty seeing sequences in numbers and patterns.

It should be noted that many of these signs and symptoms could be used in descriptions of dyslexia, dyspraxia and Attention Deficit Disorder and it's clear to Behavioural Optometrists that there seem to be great overlaps between these conditions. They would recommend ensuring that all visual and movement or co-ordination/ bilateral integration issues are tested for and remediated with compensatory spectacle lenses and vision therapy exercises so that the child has the best foundations in place for learning.

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SymptomRarelySometimesFrequently
Headaches with near work
Words running together while reading
Burning, itchy, or watery eyes
Skipping/repeating lines while reading
Tilting head or closing one eye when reading
Difficulty copying from a chalkboard
Avoiding near work or reading
Omitting small words when reading
Writing uphill or downhill
Misaligning digits/columns of numbers
Poor reading comprehension
Holding books or near work very close to eyes
Short attention span with near work
Difficulty completing assignments on time
Saying "I can't" before trying something
Clumsiness and knocking things over
Poor use of time
Losing belongings or misplacing things
Forgetting things

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