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Douglas G Smith OD – Optometric Physician

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Home » What's New » School Special: Learning Disabilities and Vision

School Special: Learning Disabilities and Vision

The label of Learning Disability is often placed on children as a catch all for any child that has difficulty with any aspect of reading, whether in basic “learning to read” or “reading to learn” stages.

Learning to read difficulties include but are not limited to difficulties with letter recognition, word formation, sight word recognition or phonetic decoding. These are considered some of the basic “learning to read” skills, based upon accurate development and, if necessary, remediation of vision perception skills.

Reading to learn difficulties occur when a child has “broken the reading code”, has sight word and decoding skill along with a reading vocabulary, but has difficulty performing to an academic level where they are intellectually capable. This is often described as lack of speed, fluency, comprehension or retention. There are many sources of these difficulties, which include oculo-motor based focus, fixation, tracking, and binocular integration deficits which can mimic true learning disabilities.

As an Optometric Physician I am charged with and concentrate on reducing or providing compensation for any measurable physical deficits that can impair either the reading to learn or reading to learn processes. Specialists including developmental-behavioral optometrists, specially trained public or private educators, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists and others focus on various developmental aspects of the learning to read process including the many components of visual perception required for all learning.

Studies of brain activity during reading are more and more accurate and specific in monitoring brain activity when engaged in many activities including reading. Functional Neuro-Magnetic Resonance Imagery (FNMRI) is an exciting component of my work as a member of the Rogue Valley Medical Center and Providence Medford Medical Center In-Patient Rehabilitation Staff. The effects of materials and procedures that have been clinically applied for generations are now documented as contributing to neuro-processing improvement, in both neuro-muscular control and information processing.

Clinical recommendations for spectacles or therapeutic intervention are based on clinical experience and supported by measurable physical response. Spectacles, contacts or a combination provide a first line of intervention when indicated. They remove measurable physical barriers to efficient uptake of visual information. If the uptake of information is physically compromised educational or therapeutic interventions will not be as effective or efficient. Spectacles are often a necessary and effective adjunct that will enhance and often abbreviate other interventions.

Visit us online or call us at 541-773-1414 to schedule an appointment today with Dr. Douglas Smith, O.D. to evaluate your child's vision today.


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