Sounds odd, doesn’t it? Who would need a reminder that vision is one of the key senses among our sensory processes? After all, we learned this as one of the most basic lessons in elementary science classes. Yet somehow, when it comes to discussions about sensory processing disorder, or difficulties with sensory integration, vision often is not adequately in the mix.
Occupational therapists are the professionals typically associated with sensory issues and sensory processing disorders. Select individuals have championed the significance of visual abilities vis-a-vis sensory processing, most notably Lindsey Biel and Carol Kranowitz. Others include Temple Grandin and Chantal Sicile-Kira.
Recently I came across another champion, Jennifer McIlwee Myers, who wrote an insightful book titled Growing Up with Sensory Issues: Insider Tips from a Woman with Autism.
Jennifer has some really nice insights that she shares about vision, subsumed under the sense of Seeing:
- “The problem of the child who has only recently been found to be severely nearsighted or farsighted. Some children can almost immediately take advantage of the improved sight that comes with having glasses that give them clear vision, but some kids with SPD have a really hard time adapting to suddenly being able to see so much more than before.” [Wow! What great sensitivity from someone who is not a VT-O.D., understanding that just because a particular lens power can make eyesight significantly sharper doesn’t mean it’s a lens that is going to be accepted by a patient – particularly when the individual has SPD and needs to be transitioned into any sensory environment that is significantly different from that to which one is accustomed. This holds true for sound and touch as well as vision. How many of us have had patients come to us whose parents have said that Dr. X prescribed glasses that my child won’t wear. Or, the child comes in wearing the Rx from Dr. X, and is observed to be looking over the top of the glasses. Oft times tempering the Rx and prescribing something much milder allows the child to adapt from the habitual visual state to something that provide additional clarity or efficiency without being unnecessarily disruptive.]
- “If a kid has had years of bad hand-eye coordination because he is terribly farsighted, the process of getting eyes and hands synced up can take time and may require help from an OT or behavioral optometrist.”
- “My own brother had severe behavioral problems in nursery school, none of which seemed to make sense … It took an examination by a behavioral optometrist to find out that he had double vision … My brother underwent vision therapy that made a huge difference. For a long time, he had to wear special glasses that had partially blacked-out lenses to permanently train his eyes to look forward correctly. But the initial therapy made a huge difference in his behavior quite quickly.”