Behavioural Optometry explores the functioning of the eyes and the brain, as they process visual information and the effect on performance and behaviour. Predominantly working with children, Behavioural optometrists also work with anyone who has a visually demanding job or lifestyle.
Sometimes children can perform below their ability in the classroom. This can occur because the child has not developed the 'building blocks' in the vision system needed to enable them to read, write, spell or carry out maths tasks and concentrate.
A Behavioural optometrist can conduct visual perceptual tests in an effort to identify any gaps in these 'building blocks'. Often children will be referred by a GP, maternal and child health nurse or school nurse.
Every child needs an initial eye examination to determine how well they can see and maintain clear vision. Completely covered by Medicare, the initial examination will take an average of 30 to 45 minutes.
If your child is having difficulty with learning, an additional appointment may be scheduled for a visual information processing assessment. This test takes approximately one hour with a Behavioural optometrist.
Visual Information Assessment
Your child is asked by your Behavioural optometrist to complete individual tasks in the following areas:
Eye movement skills
These skills are needed in order for a child to keep their position on a page, copy from the board and read fluently. They also assist with general co-ordination.
Visual spatial skills
Good visual spatial skills start with a child's awareness of their own sidedness (left-right awareness), progress to awareness of external objects, and finally to the printed page. Without this knowledge children will often reverse letters, numbers and words and show poor page organisation.
These skills allow a child to immediately recognise a word. Children with poor visual memory will often act as if it is the first time they have come across a word, even if they have come in contact with the word hundreds of times before.
Allows a child to 'make sense' of visually presented information. Without this ability children will struggle to appreciate subtle differences between letters, numbers and words, which impairs comprehension.
Visual motor integration
Handwriting requires a child to make a mental plan of the letters and words (utilises visual analysis skills) then use fine motor skills (pen control) to execute this plan. Children with poor visual motor integration will tend to have slow or messy handwriting or poor page organisation.
Although not a focus of our testing, it is important to get a baseline measurement to obtain an overall picture of your child's learning style. Good auditory skills allow for a child to sound out unfamiliar words, retain verbal information and understand information sequencing. This helps with reading, writing, and mathematical and musical ability.
If the Visual Information Assessment reveals any areas needing improvement, you and your child may choose to start a vision training program, or to seek help from an occupational or speech therapist.
A vision training program is divided into 5 basic sections:
Many children need to work in more than one area. Each area is divided into a number of different levels of exercise. Different children start at different levels.
Depending on the needs of the child and other factors, the child can attend in-house therapy or practice the exercises at home for 30 minutes a day, or a combination of both. On average, the program is a 6 month commitment.
Not directly. Your child's teacher (together with a remedial teacher or tutor, if necessary) is the person who teaches your child to read, write and understand mathematics. The program aims to help your child develop the building blocks they will need to make them more receptive to what they are taught.
This program will ensure that your child has the correct vision requirements for all their schooling needs - be it reading a book, seeing the board clearly or playing.
If you have concerns for your child's vision, we invite you to speak with a ProVision behavioural optometrist.
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Did you know you should have a comprehensive eye test every 2 years?