Ricki G. Robinson, MD, MPH, is a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at USC’s Keck School of Medicine and co-director of the Descanso Medical Center for Development and Learning in California, who has just published a book about Autism that will knock your socks off for how well it treats the distinction between sight and vision. Dr. Robinson is a founding board member of ICDL, the organization that is the brainchild of the late Dr. Stanley Greenspan. No doubt Dr. Robinson was influenced by the work of another ICKD founding board member, the developmental optometrist, Dr. Harry Wachs.
Here are some snippets from Dr. Robinson’s book, beginning with page 66:
1. “Sight is what our eyes see. Vision is what our mind understands about what we see.”
2. “Acquiring a functional visual system is also a developmental process.”
3. “Over time the visual system learns to direct both his brains and his body – first seeing then understanding, remembering and using what is seen. This requires integration with his other sensory and motor systems.”
4. “While children with ASD may depend on their visual abilities, these may not be developed as well as would be expected in a typically developing child, resulting in visual behavior patterns that interfere with their ability to react and interact with their environment. In fact, visual development is unpredictable in children with ASD. ”
5. “Delays in visual development then form the basis for visual patterns seen in children with ASD. These include poor eye contact, use of peripheral or central vision, visually sweeping the room rather than looking at or finding specific items and looking past, rather than at, people and objects.”
Dr. Robinson continues her thoughts with emphasis on finding a child’s field of visual attention, and notes that the greatest visual challenge for children with ASD is visual-spatial thinking and logic. This may lead to a child with autism feeling “lost in space”. You can learn more about innovative strategies for autism on our visionhelp website, and through exciting developments such as the newly established Autism College.
– Leonard J. Press, O.D., FCOVD, FAAO