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Originally posted on September 18th, 2012

Visual Development, Part 2

Last time I posted about the issue of visual development and how the human visual system and visual process are not fully developed at birth.  In fact, the visual process is meant to develop throughout our lives as the visual demands we are faced with change in nature and degree.  Humans probably stood a better chance of developing the visual process to a degree that fully met their needs before the advent of the printed page.  We are not biologically designed for prolonged periods of time staring at books, computers and other flat things day after day.  Clearly we must do these things to be successful members of society, but these activities are very stressful on a visual system designed for hunting, gathering, craft-making and other movement-oriented activities, which made up the bulk of the human experience prior to the modern age.

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Originally posted on September 12th, 2012


If you’re like most people and most doctors you’ve probably given little if any thought to visual development.  Why would you?  Visual development just doesn’t come up in many situations unless someone has an obvious problem.  Even when a child is having problems developmentally, academically, poor coordination, headaches, blurry eyesight, and many other symptoms or issues, the subject of visual development is unlikely to come up unless a behavioral optometrist is involved in the conversation.

Humans can see fairly clearly at birth.  We don’t necessarily know what most of it means right away, but we can see it clearly if it’s close by.  But the visual process is much more than seeing clearly.  It’s about deriving meaning and directing our actions as a result of interaction with light.  We all must develop these abilities throughout our lives, perhaps more so in our early years.

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Originally posted on June 18th, 2012

In the previous post I discussed the fact that there is much more to the visual process than seeing clearly. Seeing clearly is a wonderful thing, but without the rest of the visual process to back it up – to process information, generate thoughts and guide our actions – clear eyesight would have little purpose or excitement. The visual process enables us to orient our bodies in relation to gravity and in relation to what is going on around us at any given moment. It is the early warning system that alerts us to potential involvement with anyone or anything occupying our immediate vicinity. The visual process (hopefully) provides us with precise information about what is around us, what it means to us and what we might need or want to do with it. The visual process provides us with options for those interactions as well as the templates for those actions, which it then guides to completion. There can be myriad repercussions encompassing all aspects of human behavior, development and comfort when the visual process is not functioning at the expected level. This is true for people of all ages, but perhaps most unfortunate when it happens to children.

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Originally posted on June 11th, 2012

How is vision related to autism?

Children on the autism spectrum are very likely to have delays in visual development.  This fact has not substantially penetrated mainstream public awareness.  Perhaps more unfortunate, it remains ignored by most healthcare professionals.  The development of the visual process goes hand in glove with overall development.  Behavioral optometrists understand that visual development is fundamental to overall development.

Visual development is not even on the radar of most eye care professionals.  Visual development is also poorly understood by the vast majority of medical doctors including pediatricians, pediatric ophthalmologists, child psychologists and psychiatrists.  Many of these doctors are relied upon by parents seeking care for their children on the autism spectrum and while all of them provide critical services to these families, they are missing an important piece of the puzzle by ignoring the visual process.

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