Vision, visual-information processing, and academic performance among seventh-grade schoolchildren: A more significant relationship than we thought?

Goldstand S, Koslowe KC, Parush S. (2005).
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 59, 377-389.


 

The collaboration between optometrists and occupational therapists has been blossoming in recent years, which is good news both for children who struggle to learn, as well as those with milder academic problems who put incredible amounts of effort into achieving.

Aside from the research results of this study, which we’ll address in a moment, there are some cogent statements in the background and discussion sections of the article that are worth emphasizing:

“Since the visual system is enormously complex and integrates with a vast number of human body function, visual disorders often accompany a wide variety of developmental anomalies found with the populations of children who are frequently referred for occupational therapy evaluation and treatment.” (p.379)

“It has also been found that undetected vision problems are significantly prevalent among populations of academically and behaviorally at-risk children.” (p.379)

“Given the fact that vision is considered by some to be a primary tool through which learning takes place, such information is vital to occupational therapists and educators whose responsibilities involve the understanding, identification, and management of factors that may affect children’s ability to perform in school. This is particularly true of visual deficits, since a tremendous amount of stress is place on the visual system fro over 70% of a typical school day.” (p.384)

The following are the conclusions and implications of this study (p.386):

“This study’s findings suggest that screening for visual efficiency status may be warranted, at least with respect to children with unexplained difficulty in coping with the reading demands place on them for school learning … Although a screening performed by an occupational therapist is not a substitute for a comprehensive examination by a vision professional, it can help establish the need for such an examination and also help the therapist to plan his or her therapy program taking vision into consideration … It may be prudent for them to consider referring such children to a vision care specialist before proceeding with therapy to enhance visual-perception performance. This suggestion is especially important given the relatively high percentage of participants in this study (68%) who were found to have visual deficits.”

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