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Vision Therapy & Sensory Integration Specialists
Dr. Stanley A. Appelbaum, FCOVD
Bethesda, MD and Annapolis, MD
Quick Quiz Answers
- Do children with Sensory Integration Dysfunction or Binocular Vision Dysfunction have brain damage?
Most of these children do not have actual brain damage as diagnosed by electro-physiological testing. Certainly children with brain damage would show some problems in the areas of sensory integration or visual processing, but the reverse is seldom the case. A.J. Ayres, O.T.R., Ph.D., in her book SENSORY INTEGRATION AND LEARNING DISORDERS states that "learning is a function of the brain; learning disorders are assumed to reflect some deviation of neural function." The problem is generally not brain damage but that the nervous system does not operate in an efficient manner. Once certain processes are developed through the therapeutic use of proper types of sensory stimulation in a well organized environment, the child's brain frequently operates much more efficiently.
- Does Sensory Integration Therapy or Optometric Vision Therapy involve drugs, psychotherapy or medical/surgery treatment?
No. The process of organizing the brain does not involve drugs, complex medical/surgical equipment, or psychotherapy. Therapy relies upon the natural sensory experience which occurs in body activities. Instead of forcing the child to attend or behave, therapy enhances the child's own ability to learn and to adapt.
- Can only school-aged children benefit from Sensory Integration Therapy or Optometric Vision Therapy?
Adults can benefit from both treatments as seen in cases of patients with headaches, dizziness, vertigo, strokes, comas as well as schizophrenia and other behavioral disorders. The literature currently reports Sensory Integration Therapy most extensively used with infants and school-aged children. Optometric Vision Therapy however, has been shown in the literature to be very successful with adults and children. Adults who spend much time on a computer or who do a lot of reading, frequently complain of eyestrain, headaches, or fatigue and are often too tired in the evening to do much reading. These patients may have the correct glasses but may have problems getting their eyes to work together and can benefit from Vision Therapy.
- Are Occupational Therapy and Vision Therapy fun?
Occupational Therapy treatment is usually a fun and exciting activity. It incorporates play with therapeutic activities. For most patients each activity should be a challenge met with success. One aim of the therapy is to tap the patient's inner drive and help him integrate his nervous system. Vision therapy also consists of fun and motivating activities that are designed to get the patient to monitor and control their ability to focus, use their eyes together as a team and develop efficient eye movement, skills and abilities.
- Does a child with a vision problem or sensory integration problem really need therapy or will he merely grow out of the problem?
Children can learn with a lot of practice and effort "splinter skills" that merely compensate for poor sensory-motor processing and cover up the problem, but they can not "grow out" of the problem. It is almost that these children learn in spite of the neuro-physiological disorder but not the most efficient way -- splinter skills generally require more energy. Operating with splinter skills is the hard way to do things, leaving the child with significantly less energy for other activities. The goal of treatment is to make things work easily for the child, and this can only happen when the brain works in an integrated way.
- How is progress in treatment monitored?
The Doctor/Therapist keeps therapy notes about the patient's responses to treatment on an ongoing basis. Many of the gains which treatment is aimed at are observed during functional activities outside of the therapy setting and effective, regular communication with other professionals working with the patient is recommended. Periodic progress evaluations are done to measure and evaluate neuro-physiological changes as well as parent/teacher/patient observations. When it is felt that the patient has either met the desired goals, plateaued and is not making further gains, or doing well enough to succeed on his own, a recommendation for stopping treatment is made.
- Is the goal of treatment to eliminate the learning disability?
The therapy program is designed to change the way in which the brain functions so that learning/coordination become easier. The treatment supplements but does not duplicate educational therapy. Neuro-developmental concepts that are known to be basic to the acquisition of sensory-motor and academic skills are utilized. A specific program is given based on the patient's sensory integration and vision profile. The goal is to reduce and hopefully eliminate the sensory integration and vision processing problem by providing the patient with the opportunity and means to organize his own nervous system through purposeful therapeutic activities.
- Does health insurance cover Occupational Therapy and Vision Therapy?
Most major medical health insurance covers Occupational Therapy and Vision Therapy. Our office is happy to assist in filing for major medical reimbursement for both diagnostic testing and treatment.
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