Autistic individuals struggle to process and respond to information from their senses, as well as with communication and social interaction. Visual problems are very common in autistic individuals.
The signs of vision problems can be masked by the behaviors that autistic individuals use to cope with sensory overload from their environment. The behaviors that are attributable to both vision and autism problems include:
- Lack of eye contact
- Staring at spinning objects or light
- Fleeting peripheral glances
- Side viewing
- Struggling with visual attendance
Autistic individuals may struggle with coordinating their central and peripheral vision. When asked to follow an object with their eyes, they don’t look directly at an object. Instead, they will scan or look off to the side of the object. Eye movement problems and cross eyes are common.
Many autistic people are visually defensive. They avoid contact with specific visual input and might have hypersensitive vision. Difficulty holding still and often rely on a constant scanning of visual information in an attempt to gain meaning.
Treatment options may include the following:
- Corrective lenses and prisms – to alter the perception of visual space, changing visual responses and overall behavior.
- Optometric Vision Therapy – correcting lack of normal visual sensory and motor processing, eye tracking dysfunctions, eye focusing spasms, convergence insufficiency, eye turn, and reduced visual acuity.