Autism Spectrum Evaluation/Treatment

The conditions of Autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), and Asperger's Syndrome have strong visual elements that may require the unique services of an optometrist using the behavioral concepts of vision. Children on the spectrum generally have trouble making eye contact. As a result of not having looked directly at many things for long periods of time, other areas of the visual process may not have gotten the degree of stimulation needed to have developed properly. Any child on the spectrum should have a comprehensive visual evaluation.

This evaluation will look at a wide range of visual abilities known to be affected by the spectrum and potential treatments will be probed. Many children on the spectrum are aided extensively by what some have called the "magic glasses". In reality the only magic in the glasses is the change in behavior seen following their introduction. The principles of how the glasses alter visual attention, visual concentration and in particular making eye contact are fairly well understood.

A significant part of my evaluation with any child on the spectrum will be centered around finding out to what degree a pair of lenses can be used to help. Nearly all children on the spectrum are receiving a great deal of therapy in a number of areas. One area that must not be ignored is vision development. The late pediatrician Dr. Arnold Gesell stated, "Vision development is human development viewed optometrically." An extensive part of my evaluation of a spectrum child is to perform an assessment of overall visual development to identify where the child is.

The goal is to set up a treatment program designed to help make up for lost time. Our experience with spectrum children has been very positive with most being involved in therapy for an extended time and reaching normal levels of proficiency in standard academic settings.

The September-October 2009 issue of Autism - Asperger's Digest Magazine, has a number of articles that you may find interesting.