Vision therapy for autism – our experience

Vision therapy for autism – our experience

I’m not sure how they heard about it, but when my parents-in-law offered to pay for a consultation with a Behavioural Optometrist, and Vision Therapy if it was advised, I jumped at the chance!

Sure enough, after a very thorough examination, not all of which Tyler was even able to fully engage with, including both physically looking at his eyes, testing his eyesight and a number of exercises (watch this, now look here, read these single digit numbers, wear this and tell me what you see, etc), we received a report by email which gave the results and recommended a course of Vision Therapy. In Tyler’s case, 2 rounds of 5 sessions, one hour every other week, were recommended.

Jan was our Vision Therapist and she was great with Tyler. I sat in the sessions and was told that I would have the role of learning the exercises so that we could do them at home between sessions. She gave me written instructions, tools needed (eye patch, etc) and lots of encouragement, and by learning 2-3 each week we built up quite a repertoire to alternate between. She listened to what I said about how she could best communicate with Tyler and keep him motivated, and she developed a good working relationship with him.

A few sessions in, Jan was already making comments about how Tyler was progressing quicker than she’d hoped and she could see improvement in his ability to maintain a gaze, concentration, tracking… soon after, his eyes were ‘tracking’ and ‘jumping’ quicker. Around halfway through the course, I noticed an improvement in Tyler’s reading, in motivation and in duration of that motivation… for the first time he actually ‘wanted’ to read! A family friend who has been helping Tyler with reading every other week for a few years now also recognised more willingness to read and for longer, and Tyler’s school results showed improvement in reading… his reading age went up and was commented on in his Annual Review!

After the 10 sessions, we had another (free) consultation where the original Behavioural Optometrist reassessed Tyler. The report came back showing significant progress is some of the areas and ‘some’ progress in others. He and Jan together had decided and recommended that we could continue doing the exercises at home and come back to another assessment in 12 months’ time, unless we wanted to come back sooner, so for us, it was a short term cost with a long term benefit

We used Blackstone Opticians in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire.

Further reading: ‘Introduction to Vision Therapy as a Treatment for Autism’ article, in which an adult with autism describes his personal experience of vision therapy for autism, plus its long history and research background.

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