Autism and Vision: A Whole Body Experience

Robert MacNeil is a verteran journalist who has become very interested in children who are on the autistic spectrum.  As he tells the story, it’s not just a reporter’s curiosity this time around.  It’s personal.  As you’ll see, Mr. MacNeil’s grandson, Nick, is a 6 year old child who is on the autistic spectrum.  Mr. MacNeil’s six part series on the subject is therefore a labor of love.  One of the many excellent points brought out in this series is that Autism isn’t just a brain disorder, or an illness conveniently categorized in a cataloguing of psychiatric diseases.  It is a whole body experience affecting the child and family from head to toe.

The first segment of the six part series includes a revealing interview with  Dr. Timothy Buie, a pediatric GI  at Mass General who acknowledges that the medical community has been slow at recognizing ASD as whole body experience.  Mr. MacNeil notes that among the hallmark behaviors in autism is difficulty making eye contact and communicating, even with family members.  Also included are frequent small brain seizures, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.

Brain seizure activity is an intriguing aspect ASD, since the Visual Evoked Potential, or VEP is a splitoff of the Electroencephalogram (EEG).  Brain seizure activity should therefore present itself in some regard within the latter phases of  the unfiltered VEP signal.  It is something that we will continue to explore in our practices.  Add this information to the wide angle view needed on Autism Spectrum Disorders that includes behavioral/developmental optometry.

– Leonard J. Press, O.D., FCOVD, FAAO

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