We spend a lot of time focusing on vision problems in kids with dyslexia, ADHD or developmental disabilities. But there is a population that is often overlooked when it comes to vision skills: The gifted child.“These are children who are developmentally very advanced in some areas that can be observed even in early childhood. But the child doesn’t advance equally in all areas,” said Dr. Kellye Knueppel in describing some of the gifted children she’s seen at The Vision Therapy Center.
“Most of the gifted children we see here are very advanced verbally, but struggle quite a bit with visually presented materials in school. Many of these children are very frustrated in school because they perform at a high enough level to not qualify for help, but can have a huge discrepancy in performance compared to some of their other abilities.”
Dr. Knueppel became aware of the issue of visual perceptual issues with gifted children after hearing a presentation* by Linda Kreger Silverman, PhD of The Gifted Development Center of Denver, Colorado several years ago. Dr. Silverman is a licensed psychologist who has been working with gifted children for many years.
Dr. Silverman has studied Visual Spatial Learning in gifted individuals and has noted some common issues with visual perception. She has worked very frequently with developmental optometrists and vision therapy in Colorado and has even referred several patients to The Vision Therapy Center over the past several years.
Smart kids, stubborn patients
One might think that a vision therapy program would be easier and faster with very smart children, but the opposite is usually the case. When gifted students come to Dr. Knueppel’s center, she finds they can be resistant to treatment.
One patient was a teen-aged girl who was significantly far-sighted and also had problems with binocular vision (eye teaming), her focusing system and with processing peripheral visual information.
“She told me immediately that she didn’t have any problems with her eyes,” Dr. Knueppel recalls. “She was mad that her mom brought her in for testing.” The patient, now two years after completing her vision therapy program, and with greatly improved vision, laughs about her initial reluctance.
In the second part of this series, we’ll discuss why these gifted children are resistant to treatment. We’ll also detail some of the telltale signs that a gifted child has a vision problem.
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