Parents usually have a lot to think about when raising their kids. However, this load is significantly heavier for parents with children requiring special care. The journey to care for special needs children is not something you can prepare for or easily Google.
Much of the journey relies on understanding things as your child develops. These include their eye health, which is more susceptible to issues than non-special needs children.
According to current U.S. public school data of children between 3 and 21 years old, 14% of them need special education. However, these statistics are not entirely accurate because many special needs children are privately educated. These children usually fall under four main categories:
This includes conditions like muscular dystrophy, epilepsy, chronic asthma, and multiple sclerosis.
This includes conditions like oppositional defiant disorder or mental health and ADHD.
Children who are hearing-impaired, visually-impaired, or blind.
This includes conditions like processing disorders and dyslexia, autism, and Down syndrome.
One of the leading complications of children with special needs is the blurring of lines between the spectrum and symptoms. Caregivers and parents alike can mistake certain behaviors because of the syndrome the child has. However, these behaviors may be a result of their visual impairment.
The brain utilizes the visual system significantly more than any other sensory organ—about 80%. This means that the brain's failure to use the optical system can lead to significant challenges for the child. Hence, children with special needs are more likely to have visual problems than the rest of the population. The most common conditions they deal with are:
Amblyopia or lazy eye
Strabismus or crossed eyes
Myopia or nearsightedness
Hyperopia or farsightedness
Stereo vision or binocular coordination
Accommodation or eye focusing
Eye tracking and teaming
Visual information processing
Vision therapy is an essential treatment for developing critical visual skills for comfortable and clear vision. The treatment is typically customized to the patient's specific needs to optimally correct their impaired abilities. It helps retrain the child's visual system to detect and recognize visual input easily and accurately and strengthen visual skills.
The various treatments included in vision therapy can address the following conditions:
Vision therapy consists of customized programs employing various types of equipment like prisms, occluders, and specific exercises. These are critical in helping the child develop the necessary skills to process visual information independently. Recent technological advancements have transformed some of these exercises into interactive fun games. This makes it much easier to train children's visual skills and get the children's cooperation.
The programs allow the child to learn to identify and relate to their environment more effectively. This is essential in improving the behaviors associated with their visual impairment.