- Dr. Kalie Baker
A Major Reason Your Child Won't Want to Read
When it comes to our children we always want the best. We research toys, food, activities, and educational programs that will give them the best advantage in this ever increasingly competitive world. So when our children begin to resist something that we know is good for them, it can be disheartening and anxiety-inducing. As I certainly haven’t held back from expressing the importance of reading, seeing patients of mine that are struggling in school, and seeing the frustration and concern from their parents, I greatly understand the anxiety that comes when a child doesn’t want to read or do their homework.
While there are many reasons why your child may not like to read, this article addresses a major one that is often missed and possibly worse misdiagnosed.
When in encouraging environments, most children truly seek to do well and succeed at whatever task is brought to them. When children are failing or falling behind, more often than not, there is an underlying problem that the child can’t control.
In my field as a behavioral optometrist, I’m rarely the first person that parents and children see to try to find a cause for the child’s academic struggles, and it is honestly quite disheartening. I understand that the reason is that the public isn’t aware of the complexity of vision and the many visual information processing skills, including perceptual skills, and how even the slightest thing wrong with this immensely complex system can cause a multitude of symptoms that can slow down every aspect of learning and that’s why myself and any other doctors are working to raise awareness.
By the time many children get to me, they have already seen some other type of healthcare professional, be it a psychologist, pediatrician, or family MD. Luckily, many in the health care field are keeping up with their education and are aware of the many vision disorders and actually refer appropriately to a behavioral or developmental optometrist. A great many professionals, however, are still behind and unaware of such conditions and these conditions are completely missed in the children or misdiagnosed as ADD, ADHD, or other mental and behavioral conditions and medications are prescribed that don’t help the problem at all.
After reading all of that, I know there can only be, at this point, a list of burning questions.
What is this visual problem that makes reading and comprehending and learning from what you’ve read seem near impossible? Why is it missed? Why don’t children complain? Why don’t they tell us they are having problems?
To the first question, the visual problems are those with how the brain and eyes collaborate together and unfortunately, it is not a single disorder that causes this problem, but a list of them. The disorders broadly break down to binocular vision disorders and those that affect how our brain processes vision.
Now knowing that there are several visual disorders that can cause visual symptoms that lead to extreme difficulties for reading and learning, it should be a bit easier to understand how these things can be missed. These vision disorders are present in children with visual acuity that is even better than 20/20, so school screening exams will never really catch the conditions.
Why don’t children complain then? Well, sadly, children think that everyone sees the world the way they see it, so children and teens aren’t able to distinguish that what they are experiencing is not normal. Many children do not know how to describe occasional blur when reading or occasional double vision.
When I was young, my mother said that the first time I had a headache, I said I had a tummy ache in my head. Children only really know what they are taught and teaching children about things that can go visually wrong so they can distinguish what is normal and what isn’t is not something that is really done.
Since these vision problems can all present with slightly different symptoms, diagnosis requires a trained behavior or developmental optometrist to test all of the visual skills and narrow down what is wrong.
For conditions where the eyes are not coordinated well together, symptoms can include blur constantly or occasionally, double vision constantly or occasionally, headaches, loss of place when reading, and more.
For conditions where the brain isn’t processing the vision properly, symptoms can include reversing letters, poor directionality, difficulty finding a word or place on a page, and more.
Both types of conditions can ultimately lead to poor reading comprehension, exhaustion when reading, homework taking longer than it should, falling several reading levels behind, and poor self-esteem.
Remembering that vision is MUCH more than just 20/20, as a behavioral optometrist, I can’t help but always want to educate people on the 17 Visual Skills and all the ones that are specifically needed just to read and that when it comes to learning, 80% of what children learn is take in visually. So it is vital to their academic success and success in everyday activities, as these are not problems children outgrow, that they have well developed visual information processing skills including the visual perception skills here on this page.
If you feel like you or your little one are struggling with reading or any of the visual skills needed to live your life comfortably, don’t worry! Vision Therapy has incredibly high success rates for various vision conditions and lazy-eyes (or eye-turns as we like to call them).
Call our office today to schedule a complete and comprehensive eye and vision exam!