Autism and Vision

June 23, 2015

“It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision.”
– Helen Keller

As Helen Keller eloquently puts it, vision is more than just 20/20 eyesight.  In fact, the majority of children with autism have fine eyesight, but extremely poor vision. Vision also includes the brain’s ability to analyze, organize and utilize the information coming in through the eyes.  Unfortunately, people with autism have difficulty processing and responding to information from their senses.

Visual problems are very common in individuals with autism.  Visual symptoms of autism can include lack of eye contact, staring at spinning objects or light, fleeting peripheral glances, side viewing, and difficulty attending visually. Autistic people often use visual information inefficiently.  For example, during an eye exam, children with autism will not follow an object by directly looking at it but rather looking beside it or at it using peripheral vision.  In addition to poor integration of central and peripheral vision, autistic individuals may also be tactually or visually defensive. This may mean that they are overstimulated input through the senses – specifically having hypersensitive vision.

Treating these vision issues should include a visit to the eye doctor for treatment of nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. Vision Therapy activities can be used to stimulate general visual arousal, eye movements, and the central visual system. To learn more about Vision Therapy from the American Optometric Association Read More .