Children with Special Needs

Dr. Christensen has worked with children with a variety of special needs; including ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Pervasive Developmental Delay, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Williams Syndrome, Chromosome Deletion and Learning Disabled as well as some additional conditions: Apraxia, Tremor, Poor Muscle Tone.


Children with Special Needs have the same vision problems as neuro-typical children. These disorders may include, nearsightedness or farsightedness, as well as other eye-coordination disorders such as eye turns (strabismus); eye movement dysfunction, “lazy eye” (amblyopia); or poor eye teaming and coordination, causing the child to have a distorted sense of what he is viewing. Depth perception and other visual information-processing problems are also common.


Vision problems of this nature can add to your child’s challenges.


A hidden visual dysfunction may be affecting the child’s behavior, interfering with his ability to read and learn, and reducing his ability to perform routine tasks.


Vision Problems Often Get Overlooked
Often, the Special Needs child is unable to sit still for a normal eye exam, this requires special testing and skill to be able to get the correct information. The child may have an intermittent (occasional), rather than a constant eye turn that could go undetected. The eye chart exam measures what the child can see at 20 feet away, but will miss how he or she sees things up close, such as words in a book. And, unfortunately, children don’t know how they are supposed to see, so they rarely complain, leaving certain problems hidden.


Signs and Symptoms of a Vision Problem in Special Needs Children

  • Skips/repeats lines when reading
  • Omits small words when reading
  • Poor reading comprehension
  • Homework takes longer than it should
  • Reduced visual attention
  • Trouble keeping attention on reading
  • Difficulty completing assignments on time
  • Difficulty copying from board
  • Burning, itchy, watery eyes
  • Tilts head/closes one eye when reading
  • Closes or covers one eye
  • One eye turns in or out
  • Avoids near work/reading
  • Unable to listen and look at same time
  • Holds reading material too close
  • Poor handwriting
  • Clumsy/knocks things over
  • Car/motion sickness
  • Unusual neck and body postures
  • Visual perceptual problems
  • Uncontrolled eye shaking (Nystagmus)


If your child has any special needs, we encourage you to schedule a developmental vision evaluation. Please call our office for more information or to schedule an appointment.