Down Syndrome

Down Syndrome Vision Problems And Special Needs Children

Children with Special Needs have the same down syndrome vision problems as neurotypical children. These disorders may include, nearsightedness (Myopia, Rabun Jauh) or farsightedness (Hyperopia, Rabun Jauh), as well as other eye-coordination disorders such as eye turns (Strabismus, Mata Juling 斗鸡眼/斜视); eye movement dysfunction, “lazy eye” (Amblyopia, Mata Malas 懒惰眼); or poor eye teaming and coordination. In results, children will have a distorted sense of what he is viewing. Depth perception and other visual information-processing problems are also common in children with special needs.

Down syndrome vision problems of this nature will further cause burdens to your child’s challenges. A hidden visual dysfunction may affect the child’s behavior, interfering with his ability to read and learn, and reducing his ability to perform routine tasks.

Vision Problems Often Get Overlooked

Often, the Special Needs child is unable to sit still for a normal eye exam. Hence, it may result in an inaccurate or incomplete evaluation. The child may have an intermittent (occasional), rather than a constant eye turn that could go undetected. The eye chart exam measures what the child can see at 20 feet away, but will miss how he sees things up close, such as words in a book. And, unfortunately, children don’t know how they are supposed to see, so they rarely complain, leaving certain problems hidden.

Visual-Perceptual Delays

It’s no surprise that visual-perceptual delays are common in children with Sensory Integration Dysfunction. Visual-perceptual skill refers to a person’s ability to interpret, analyze, and give meaning to what he or she sees. Normally more than 70 percent of classroom “underachievers” have problems processing visual information, even if they have 20/20 eyesight.

Visual attention allows a child to pay attention to what he or she is doing while blocking out extraneous stimuli. A child who is easily distracted has trouble sustaining visual attention. When reading, a child may feel compelled to look at any visual stimuli around him. Visually scanning around all the words on the page rather than just focusing on the words that he should read. Some kids have trouble shifting their visual attention and learning the information that they are looking at. Some of them may not notice when something else is happening around them. A visually hyporesponsive child may have problems in noticing a visual stimulus or sustaining visual interest and feel tired after a short time. For those children who are not paying visual attention have missed out those vital developmental opportunities. This is because they are not listening and digesting the information around them.

Visual discrimination allows the child to identify distinct features of objects such as color, shape, size, and orientation. This skill enables her or him to match and categorize objects. As she or he grows, she or he can perceive the difference between a triangle and a circle, or B and b. The child with visual discrimination problems may have trouble recognizing faces or noticing the difference between a rectangle and a square.

Visual memory allows a child to remember things he or she has seen. This is an essential skill for imitating new gestures and movements, sequencing writing and spelling tasks, recognizing words and people, and more. With a poor visual memory, he or she may have the excellent memory for life experiences rather than factual information and may have difficulty in relating new visual information to what he or she already knows.

Figure-ground allows a child to differentiate between foreground and background. This is essential to keep the child’s attention to the important visual stimuli and does not get distracted by the surrounding. For examples, this skill enables him to find his favorite dump truck in a box full of toys and keep his eyes on the teacher in a busy classroom. The child with figure-ground difficulty may have trouble reading because he cannot differentiate some specific words on a page when he or she is reading.

Down Syndrome


Visual closure allows a child to use visual clues to recognize objects without seeing the entire image. For instants, this skill enables ones to find a lunchbox even it’s partially hidden behind a milk carton, this skill also enable ones to recognize a complete word if he has only seen a part of that word (proficient readers do not have to look at every letter).

Form constancy allows a child to perceive things as the same regardless of environment, position, size, and other details. For examples, ones will know what is spoon after being taught regardless of its position of the spoon (upside down, turned sideways) and other details such as material (a silver tablespoon or a plastic toy spoon). In school, ones learn that the letter S is an S whether it’s handwritten or typed, in print or cursive, or sideways.

Laterality, directionality, and spatial vision:

Laterality allows a child to differentiate between right and left sides of his own body. Directionality allows the child to perceive the right and the left side of external objects. Both are essential to spatial vision, which tells the child on how an object is positioned in space. For example, with that skill, ones know how to differentiate between the lowercase b which has a line on the left side and the d has a line on the right side. A child with a poor spatial down syndrome vision may have difficulty in playing with toys, learning to climb stairs and catch a ball (both require depth perception), and developing many self-care tasks. Ones may have persistent letter reversals (beyond age eight), be confused about the letter or number sequences, and have trouble understanding directional words such as up, down, in, out, under, and over, and have poor topographical orientation and lost easily.

A child also needs to develop her visual-motor integration skills. His or her eyes and body must work together to accomplish many developmental tasks, from stringing beads to catching a ball. The visual-motor integration skills are referred to as eye-hand coordination skills. The visual-motor integration is the term used for the interaction of motor skills, visual skills, and visual-perceptual skills.

Signs And Symptoms Of a Vision Problem in Special Needs Children

If your child displays any of these symptoms, an undetected, underlying but treatable down syndrome vision problem may be contributing to the problem.

  • Skips/repeats lines when reading
  • Omits small words when reading
  • Poor reading comprehension
  • Homework takes longer than it should
  • Reduced visual attention
  • Trouble keeping attention on reading
  • Difficulty completing assignments on time
  • Difficulty copying from board
  • Burning, itchy, watery eyes
  • Tilts head/close one eye when reading
  • Closes or covers one eye
  • One eye turns in or out
  • Avoids near work/reading
  • Unable to listen and look at same time
  • Holds reading material too close
  • Poor handwriting
  • Clumsy/knocks things over
  • Car/motion sickness
  • Unusual neck and body postures
  • Visual perceptual problems
  • Short attention span
  • Uncontrolled eye shaking (Nystagmus)

Down Syndrome