Vision Problems in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Why Do Behavioral Optometrists Collaborate with Speech/Language Therapists?

Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in the US. Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are a group of disabilities characterized by significant impairments in social interaction and communication, and a tendency to engage in repetitive behaviors. People with autism have difficulty processing and responding to information from their senses.

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Most of these students on the autism spectrum (and many students with other special needs or learning challenges) have been described as being visual learners. That means they understand what they SEE better than what they HEAR. The majority of children with ASD are stronger in visual-spatial abilities than in auditory processing abilities.2 This can be related, at least in part, to their challenges in establishing and maintaining attention to process auditory information. Vision may be their learning strength compared to their ability to respond to auditory information.

But that doesn’t mean they have perfect vision. Even if they are tested at 20/20 eyesight they can still experience vision problems that affect their learning and participation.

Visual processing skills are often affected in this population. Visual symptoms in people with ASD are linked to underlying differences in the central nervous system including the visual system.



Visual symptoms found in children with ASD are pervasive and often severe in their intensity.   Yet, many of these students are visual learners and benefit from utilizing visual strategies to support better communication and learning. To identify their individual learning needs, have your student tested by a developmental optometrist and find a speech/language therapist who can assist with visual strategies. Improvement of visual skills along with utilization of visual strategies can help a child with ASD become more successful in communication, school, sports and life.

Read the entire article here.

Visual strategies  - Hodgon

Thanks to my co-author, Linda Hodgdon, M.ED.,CCC-SLP for her support, knowledge and collaboration on this article.

Linda Hodgdon, M.ED., CCC-SLP is a Speech-Language Pathologist is an international speaker and consultant for Autism Spectrum Disorders & Related Learning Needs. She is the author of the best seller, Visual Strategies for Improving Communication. To learn more or to sign up for her FREE E-newsletter, visit

Also, special thanks to the publishers of 2ENewsletter,  Linda Neumann & J. Mark Bade, for their invitation and support.

Lynn Hellerstein
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