If you are considering or have been recommended to undergo any type of vision related treatment (strong glasses, vision therapy or training etc.) or have any concerns about your child’s visual skills for reading or upright activity please read this great blog on what else may be playing a role and how my children's neuro physio approach can help.
Considerations Before Starting Vision Therapy
Before you have your child put in strong corrective glasses for reading, or a vision therapy, vision training programme, or an intensive reading program suggested by your child’s doctor or teachers, please take a moment to consider the health and stability of their body below the eyes first.
SIGNS TO LOOK FOR:
- trouble staying focused, concentration issues in school
- can’t sit still for long or leans on objects for support
- tired and fatigued
- frequent yawning
- holding their breath
- breathing heavily
- breathing through the mouth, mouth open
- can’t keep up with their peers
- complaining of headaches or pains
- sensitive to when things touch their skin, particularly the skin near their
- particular about their clothes and the way that they feel.
TRY THIS: First, stiffen up your neck, then try to move your eyes right to left and around. Then, relax your neck, and now try to move your eyes right to left and around. Was it easier to move your eyes with your neck relaxed? Did you feel more strain and tension in your eyes with a stiff neck?
The eyes should be allowed to move freely around in the head to bring in visual information to the brain. A stiff neck limits the ability of the eyes to move without strain. So, we want the neck to be relaxed. A neck can only be relaxed when it is supported by a strong core (shoulders to hips) region. This core houses all the vital organs and functions – with breathing being a major one. Stability here in the core and lower half of the body allows the head and neck to be free from tension and the eyes to move and see without straining. Restoring proper breathing mechanism, posture and function are my children's neuro physio role, which can contribute to resolution of the child’s problem.
If the child is lacking:
- Good solid core strength for breathing and support
- Good postural control at rest (reading) or while moving (play)
A stiff neck results when the core lacks proper posture, position, stability and strength. As a result, a child's neck is going to be working over-time to regulate essential functions and support the head, while the eyes try to focus and move. When this happens, the child will tense up their neck to support, or over-extend their back, or fidget, or yawn a lot or hold their breath (or resort to other compensations) because they lack stability in the upper body while placing demands on the eyes.
Therefore, consider having your child evaluated by a Postural Restoration Certified neurological physiotherapist who specialises in posture, body position, stability, growth and development. With restorative children's neuro physio treatment the child will gain a strong and stable core providing a good base to support to the neck, head, and eyes. The eye and neck muscles are then in a good position to move freely without worry of undue stress and strain from the rest of the body.
After this, if the reading problems or classroom concentration issues still exist, then you’ve enabled vision training or therapy to be the most effective long-term!
The benefit of this approach is that it can’t hurt. It’s certainly not going to ruin any efforts of vision therapy if you have a neuro physio evaluation first. If anything, hopefully your child will get an “okay” and onto vision treatment they go. But consider the alternative: the child goes into vision treatment with an already stiff neck and weak core, and they will be training their eyes in this incorrect position for months. This situation can make vision therapy less effective long-term, and can promote further issues with the rest of the body integrating with vision.
If a child’s postural issues can be addressed, then it may help the vision therapy process. This is because the body doesn’t have to focus as hard on regulating posture and breathing in addition to demanding visual tasks and learning.
Martin Higgins is the only Postural Restoration Certified Children's Neurological Physiotherapist in the UK and works closely with behavioural optometrists in the UK and Europe to resolve these posture and vision issues in children and adolescents alike.