Sankhajyoti Saha, M.Optometry
Clinical Optometrist, I for Eye-Care, Falakata, India
Autism is a neurological disability affecting normal brain development, which can arise before, during, or soon after birth. Into the bargain, any mutilation to the central nervous system during infancy can cause autism. (1) Due to its range of symptoms characterized by impaired communication, social interaction, self-help, cognition, and social behaviour, it is known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ASD begins in childhood and tends to persist throughout life. (2)
Autism is not an infrequent disease anymore. The prevalence of ASD emerges to be increasing globally, as many as 1 in every 160 children. (2)
A set of specific evaluations and assessments are there to confirm the condition including Neurological tests, Autism Diagnostic Interview, tests on communication, speech, motor skills, academic performance and progress, cognition skills. (1)
Evidence-based psychosocial interventions aim to upgrade socially acceptable and prosocial behaviour, decrease odd behaviour, and improve non-verbal efforts. (1) Occupational Therapy (OT) programs one-to-one sessions, focusing on communication, cognitive skills, social interactions, learning strategies, and self-care. Occupational therapists can also anticipate sensory integration therapy (auditory, visual, tactile).
Figure 1: Sensory Integration Therapy.
- Being a visual creature, most of our learning happens through our visual system; therefore, poor visual processing with the auditory or vestibular system can lead to forming imperfect sensory nexus.
- Scrutinizing the literature on the characteristics of autism, a number of visual behaviours (e.g., squinting, sensitivity to light, and difficulty making eye contact) reveal that warrants the optometrist’s interest. (3)
- Specifically, poor visual perception is one of the many characteristics of ASD and here the optometrist plays a significant role to conquer any visual disturbances.
Figure 2: Visual Barriers in ASD.
Figure 3: Visual Barriers in ASD.
- In the field of Behavioural Optometry, specialized Vision Therapy adds a cushioning effect of any visual barrier.
- Multi-sensory stimulation session of Vision rehabilitation along with OT can make a notable refinement of autistic behaviour.
- Rehabilitation of the potential vision through various vision enhancement devices is an integral part of Visual-Spatial Learning.
Visual-spatial (Visual: relating to vision; Spatial: relating to the character of space) learning style or visual-spatial intelligence refers to a person’s ability to perceive, analyze, and understand visual information in the world around them in the form of pictures, rather than words. It’s apart from our current “one-size-fits-all” classroom approach.
- We use visual-spatial awareness frequently in countless daily lives, academic and professional fields, e.g., while packing our luggage for the tour we visualize how different items can be required, an eye care professional visualizes different fundus areas to detect an abnormality on the retina etc.
- People with visual-spatial intelligence learn best when taught using diagrammed instructions and visual media. (4)
- They may be drawn to careers such as working in video, television, architecture, photography, artistry, computer graphics, counselling, fashion design, visual advertising, and interior design.(4)
An optometrist may foreshadow any alarming signs and approach accordingly. They can assign expert advice and can escort other health care practitioners concerning what to do on this.
- NEURODEVELOPMENTAL DISORDERS (January 21, 2015). Retrieved from https://www.whiteswanfoundation.org/disorders/neurodevelopmental-disorders/autism (Last accessed: November 23, 2020, 10:00 PM)
- Autism spectrum disorder (November 7, 2019). Retrieved fromhttps://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/autism-spectrum-disorders (Last accessed: November 20, 2020, 09:10 PM)
- Schulman, R. L. (1994). Optometry’s role in the treatment of autism. Journal of Optometric Vision Development, 25(4), 259–268.
- Visual-Spatial Learning Style Characteristics (May 7, 2020). Retrieved from https://www.verywellfamily.com/understanding-visual-spatial-learning-styles-2162778 (Last accessed: November 23, 2020, 11:40 PM)
The photographs in this content have been taken by Sankhajyoti Saha, with prior permission from mentor.