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Gifted Children and Vision Disorders

Vision Disorders

It might come as a surprise, but there are gifted children that have vision disorders. A child may not necessarily be exhibiting signs of a learning issue (such as fussing over homework or showing a slower progression among their classmates) in order for a vision disorder to be present. Even children who are otherwise gifted learners can still suffer from vision disorders. Therefore, convergence insufficiency, amblyopia, and other disorders of vision are not and should not be attributed only to “slow learners” or “reluctant readers.”

Difficulty learning is usually the sign of a vision problem that most parents pay attention to. Because of this, it is often the case that an intelligent child is not brought in for diagnosis until their academic performance suffers. At this point, the parents are often confused by the child’s struggles in certain areas. The parents may even mistake the reduced performance, such as on a written test, as a sign of laziness in the child. These children are often performing adequately enough to not qualify for additional in-school help, which can reinforce this assumption.

Another thing to note is that the gifted child may otherwise be extremely verbal, and do perfectly on verbal tests. In fact, he or she may be able to answer questions on a written test correctly when asked them verbally. When there is a disparity such as this, seeking a thorough vision screening should be a parent’s immediate reaction. A functional vision test goes far beyond the “20/20” eye chart examination with which we are all so familiar. This vision assessment tests the full range visual health factors, including eye tracking, eye teaming and convergence. By testing all aspects of vision, this screening uncovers vision disorders such as convergence insufficiency, amblyopia, eye-teaming issues and computer vision syndrome.

When such disorders come to light, the good news is that they are often treatable without surgery or glasses. Vision therapy, a series of exercises meant to re-train the eyes to function according to their intended function, corrects a wide variety of vision disorders. The result is that the child is better able to see and interpret written materials, allowing their natural giftedness to shine through all the more.

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