Is Vision Impacting Behavior Concerns for Your Child?

It is estimated that 80% of a child’s learning in the first 12 years of life is learned visually. Indeed, toddlers may learn social cues by visually observing adults around them. Symptoms of a vision challenge may be subtle, or may mirror symptoms of other concerns, such as ADHD. Often, behavioral challenges, such as outbursts, tantrums, or avoidant behavior may be linked to vision impairments in children.

Dr. Eileen Gable recommends having your child’s vision checked for any of the following reasons:

  • Loses interest in activity quickly
  • Turns head or looks with a ’tilt’ when looking at an item
  • Changes in behavior at play or school (acting out, tantrums, avoiding certain tasks)

As Cortical Vision Impairment (CVI) is the current leading cause of visual impairment among children, and behaviors may often mimic those of other conditions, a full evaluation should be considered for children who display the following behaviors. A “full evaluation” may include an MRI, pediatric neurologist, and/or a pediatric ophthalmologist, as the child may appear to have a typical eye examination.

As noted on the “Blind Babies Fact Sheet” symptoms may include:

  • Using side (or peripheral) vision to look at items, rather than directly looking
  • Light avoidance or light gazing behaviors
  • Poor depth perception (difficulty reaching for objects)
  • Vision may appear better while the child is moving (or the object is moving)
  • Short visual attention span (possibly due to overstimulation)
  • Turning away, while reaching for an object

Any concerns should be discussed with an eye care professional who has experience with evaluating children for CVI and a child’s pediatrician, particularly in discussing a possible ADHD diagnosis.

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