FOSTERING Clinical EXPERTISE, RESEARCH & EDUCATION
Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder, characterized by problems in sensory processing, socialization and stereotypical behaviors. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reports of the individual disorders, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), are the two most rapidly growing conditions¹.
Both have significant underlying visual anomalies. In a 2013 publication by Black, et al, researchers found that 52% of individuals with ASD in the Greater Baltimore Medical Center had an ocular abnormality; specifically, 41% demonstrated strabismus, 27% significant refractive error (reduced acuity), 11% were amblyopic and 7% showed anisometropia².
Beyond the research, clinically when presented with children within the spectrum, the implications of visual defects are significant. Common delays and behaviors associated with visual deficits include an inability to maintain eye contact or attention, perseveration to lights or spinning objects, “peripheral” side viewing (improper gaze characterized by looking out of the sides of one’s eyes) and postural adaptations, such as head tilts, body warps and toe-walking.
If a child is unable to organize what they ‘see’ in these respects, how can we expect them to pay attention to their environment, our instructions or their actions?
Prevalence of Autism
A surveillance study most recently conducted by the CDC tells us that the prevalence for ASD is 1 in 68 children. Boys are four times more likely to develop autism—1 out of 42 boys are diagnosed on the spectrum compared to 1 in 189 girls³.
Visual Management of Autism
More information on our methods of treating the visual, physical and behavioral symptoms that accompany autism can be found here.
1, 3- Centers for Disease Control & Prevention(CDC). Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/data.html. Last Accessed May 3, 2016
Black K, McCarus C, Collins ML, Jensen A. Ocular manifestations of autism in ophthalmology. Strabismus. 2013; 21 (2): 98-102.
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