Vision Therapy Term Paper

Pages: 15 (4751 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 25  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Teaching

¶ … Vision Therapy on Children's Reading Ability

An Analysis of the Impact of Vision Therapy Intervention on Vision-Impaired Children's Reading Ability

Background of Problem child's ability to read efficiently has been shown time and again to be directly correlated to a wide range of academic and social outcomes (Corcos, Kruk & Willows, 1993). According to Kameenui and Simmons (1998), "Professional educators and the public at large have long known that reading is an enabling skill that traverses academic disciplines and translates into meaningful personal, social, and economic outcomes for individuals" (p. 1). Similarly, it is widely recognized that reading is the fundamental component of all academic pursuits, what Kameenui and Simmons term "the pivotal ability that stabilizes and leverages children's opportunities to learn and to become reflective, independent learners" (p. 2). There is ample societal evidence to support the need for providing all students with the best opportunities to learn how to read efficiently.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Term Paper on Vision Therapy Assignment

While there remains a paucity of research concerning the basic aspects of how reading acquisition occurs, there is an abundance of examples of what effect not being able to read efficiently can have on society in general. Today, America's prisons are full of inmates who are functionally illiterate. These people are not able to hold down meaningful or gainful employment, and seek to earn a living through the only career path available to them: crime. These inmates were not born in prison, of course, but their lack of reading ability has been shown to have contributed to a lifestyle that helped to get them there. According to Kameenui and Simmons, "One need not look beyond the school dropout data, prison rosters, or recipients of federal public assistance to find that poor reading ability is pervasive and common to many who are not succeeding in today's society -- a society whose literacy demands continue to galvanize the distinctions between the 'haves and have nots'" (1998, p. 2). A number of past studies of those individual who were later found to be resilient to personal and societal adversity in life also suggest that the ability to read has powerful and far-reaching positive effects; across the board, these studies have shown that literacy levels are both negatively associated with lower annual earnings and higher unemployment.

According to Cornwall and Bawden (1992), "The absence of proficient reading skills is a considerable risk factor associated not only with academic failure and school dropout but unemployment and adjudication" (p. 282). Despite this virtual universal acknowledgement of the importance of reading to success in life, research into how and when children begin to read has only received scholarly attention in the relative recent past (Gould & Gould, 2003). The studies to date, though, suggest that there is a very limited window of opportunity in which effective reading comprehensive skills can be taught, with a child's ability to acquire these skills being seriously eroded thereafter; consequently, time is of the essence both in terms of timely research and the point at which interventions are introduced to help disadvantaged children overcome these constraints to learning.

Statement of the Problem

According to Gould and Gould (2003), American educators invest an enormous amount of time and resources in an effort to help students solve the cognitive problems that impede their learning. In some cases, though, these authors maintain that it is the fundamental problems that educators are unable to immediately discern that first need to be addressed. For instance, Gould and Gould note that two of the most urgent issues in American education today are the demands for improving academic performance and higher test scores and the mandate to close the achievement gaps between poor and more affluent students and minority and nonminority students; in response, educators have paid increased attention to staff development that focuses on instructional methods, reading strategies, differentiated teaching and learning, test-taking strategies for students, and so forth.

Nevertheless, before these initiatives can begin to bring about improved student performance and close the achievement gaps, schools must address a much more basic issue affecting learning for many students, especially those who live in poverty: "This is the issue of undetected and uncorrected vision problems" (emphasis added) (Gould & Gould, 2003, p. 325). It has been estimated that one out of four school-age children have undiagnosed vision problems that are sufficiently significant to affect their performance in school and in life; furthermore, studies have shown that in at-risk populations, such as children who are born into poverty, this percentage is likely to be much higher (Gould & Gould, 2003). Regrettably, many children who suffer from undiagnosed vision problems are characterized as being intellectually deficient and are denied the learning opportunities afforded otherwise-normal students (Gallimore, 1999).

Unfortunately, even when sufficient time and resources exist for schools to conduct such vision assessments, there are a number of constraints involved that may limit the ability of children to receive the level of follow-up attention and medical care they require to overcome these vision impairments. According to Gould and Gould, "screening students for uncorrected vision problems and referring them for eye examinations and glasses is the easy part" (p. 325). Minority, low-income and foster care children are particularly challenged in this regard (Gould & Gould, 2003). Visually impaired students in general, then, and those from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds especially, stand much to gain from any initiative that provides educators with some step-by-step guidance on how to best approach teaching these children how to read. In fact, according to Tager-Flusberg (1994), "We will not really understand language acquisition until we know how it both affects and is affected by concurrent social, cognitive, and biological development. Although researchers have traditionally separated these areas in order to make them more tractable, a broader view encompassing as many relevant strands as possible is periodically necessary" (p. 213). Such a broader view of as many relevant strands as possible is the purpose of this study, the specifics of which are discussed further below.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is three-fold:

1. To determine the current incidence of vision-impaired children in American schools;

2. To determine the extent to which current diagnostic procedures are failing to identify potentially vision-impaired children; and, 3. To identify efficacious treatment interventions to improve reading abilities in vision-impaired children.

Significance of the Study

Despite the overwhelming evidence that good reading skills help children achieve successful academic outcomes in virtually all settings, there remains a paucity of research concerning how vision therapy interventions on vision-impaired children's reading ability (Corcos, Kruk & Willows, 1993). According to Booth and Burman (2001), reading disorders are the most common form of learning problem in the United States today, with estimates ranging from 5 to 15% and therefore represent an issue of major importance. Because fully 70% of classroom learning depends on children's visual systems, students with uncorrected vision problems are at an enormous disadvantage before they even enter the classroom. It would therefore be reasonable to assert that if students are unable to see clearly, they are going to experience a wide range of problems in reading, writing, and even participating in nonacademic activities such as social programs and sports. Despite the enormity and incidence of the problem, Gould and Gould maintain that American parents and educators almost always overlook vision problems as a possible obstacle to learning. According to Gould and Gould, although there is no guarantee that once a vision-impaired student's vision problem is corrected, his or her grades will immediately improve; however, if the child has a vision problem that interferes with the ability to read or to learn, it will certainly constrain the student's performance. "Removing this roadblock will at least give the student a fighting chance to achieve his or her potential. We owe our students that much. Besides, our nation cannot afford to squander the abilities of bright, capable young people" (Gould & Gould, 2003, p. 326).

Research Questions

As noted above, the purpose of this study is three-fold; therefore, the following research questions will guide the direction of the research:

1. What is the current incidence of vision-impaired children in American schools?

2. What are current estimates concerning the extent to which current diagnostic procedures are failing to identify potentially vision-impaired children?

3. What treatment interventions have been proven effective in helping vision-impaired children improve their reading abilities?

Limitations and Delimitations

This study employs a case study approach to determine the answers to the guiding research questions; therefore, there will be no human subjects involved and no need for informed consent releases.

Definitions

Decoding.

This term refers to recognition of the printed word (Gould, 1998).

Low Vision and Visual Acuity. "Low vision has no commonly accepted or legal definition" (Ambrose & Corn, 1997); researchers have used functional terms to define a person with low vision as one "having difficulty accomplishing visual tasks, even with prescribed corrective lenses, but who can enhance his or her ability to accomplish these tasks with the use of compensatory visual strategies, low vision and other devices, and… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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