Perceptually Impaired: Now What?

Schools are very adept at assembling teams of professionals who conduct tests with the goal of placing labels on your child. One of the common labels is “Perceptually Impaired”, or P.I., and the other is “Neurologically Impaired”, or N.I. What is the purpose of these labels?

On the surface, labels enable the school to provide special support services. This might consist of resource room help through an I.E.P. for special education programs. It might allow the school to pressure a parent to place a child in Ritalin. Most interestingly, it rarely provides support to help the child develop better skills. In other words, perceptual impairment is treated as a physical disability much like the absence of a hand or deafness in one ear. The goal is to help the child learn to compensate.

Optometrists providing vision therapy services go one step further. Rather than making the best of the situation, they make the best of the child. Parents interested in helping their children develop better perceptual or processing abilities, rather than learning how to operate better through crutches, should contact the College of Optometrists in Vision Development or the Optometric Extension Program for the name of a professional experienced in this field.