LEARNING DISABILITIES AND DYSLEXIA

A learning disability is a disorder in understanding or using spoken or written language. Persons with this disorder have average to above average intelligence but experience problems with reading, writing, listening, speaking, concentration and doing mathematical calculations. Dyslexia is a type of learning disability that involves reading difficulties.

There is still much research being done on the cause of dyslexia and other learning disabilities. However, there is little or no evidence that poor vision, abnormal focusing, jerky eye movements or misaligned or crossed eyes cause them.

It may seem easy to blame reading problems on the eyes, but learning disabilities are caused by the brain, not the eyes. Children with learning disabilities do not have more visual problems than children without learning disabilities. Your eye is like a camera and after the eye takes the picture, the image is sent to the brain. Your eyes do not understand what they see any more than a camera understands the photos it takes. Until the photos are developed, they have no meaning. Similarly, until your brain interprets images seen by the eyes, the images have no meaning.

A child with learning disabilities needs to practice academic skills with the aid of a trained specialist. There is no scientific evidence to show that visual training, muscle or hand/eye coordination exercises can improve a child's learning disability.

If you suspect that your child has a learning disability, you should contact the school. Public law requires schools to evaluate your child. If you would like an evaluation by an independent body, Dr. Kronwith can recommend one. Evaluations are conducted by physicians or educators and typically involve educational and psychological testing. Other evaluations may be conducted by specialists in learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, speech/language problems and audiology.

A thorough ophthalmologic examination can discover visual defects which may interfere with reading and Dr. Kronwith will perform these tests when indicated. Many times reading difficulties are not a sign of dyslexia or attention deficit disorder but rather difficulties in focusing and bringing one's eyes together to read. Focusing problems are easily solved with glasses and difficulties bringing one's eyes together can often be remedied with eye exercises. This is the only case where eye exercises have been proven to be helpful. If your child has a problem with bringing the eyes together, the doctor will show you how to do these exercises at home. There is no reason, in his opinion, to subject your child to multiple and costly visits to a specialist in "visual training" to do these exercises.

If your child has true dyslexia, no amount of exercises, colored glasses, or other gimmicks will cure it. There are no quick fixes whether they be visual training, vitamins, or sugar restriction. These approaches may indeed delay the educational assistance that your child needs.

With proper educational help, children with learning disabilities can become very successful. After all, both Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein had learning disabilities. And they accomplished a thing or two in their lives!