The misdiagnosed ‘impossible child’

Children diagnosed with a behavior disorder can be very misunderstood by adults around them. Their teachers and parents often label them “impossible children.”

Attention deficit disorder, attention deficit disorder hyperactivity, learning disabilities, oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, dyslexia, and central auditory processing disorder are a few of the diagnoses that have been diagnosed in these children. Typically, the child’s pediatrician, psychiatrist, or neurologist routinely prescribe Ritalin, Concerta, Adderall, or Prozac to create order and quiet in a child’s behavior.

Understandably, professionals are pressured to find answers for these children with learning and behavior disorders who often tend to be disruptive in nature. The school system and individual teachers are pressured as well to create an environment where these children labeled as lazy, wild, a dreamer, difficult, stupid, or uncooperative can become social and functional within a mainstream classroom situation.

Medication may promote a child’s behavior to be more predictable and may even appear to cause a child to focus better on a particular task; however, if the underlying problems these children are experiencing are not medical in nature, these children will ultimately begin a downward spiral, lowering their self-confidence and subsequent self-esteem. The medication he takes may cause a child to not disrupt his classroom activities, but he continues to know within himself that something isn’t right.

Visual disorders

With the knowledge that upwards of 80 percent of information processing comes from vision, a solution for your child’s learning difficulty can come to light.

Behavioral vision disorders commonly affect a child’s ability to process visual information. Difficulty converging and coordinating their eyes inward, focusing in order to identify, along with tracking inefficiency, can cause children to see double, have blurry vision, or lose their place and skip lines while they are reading.

Neglecting the possibility of visual dysfunction causing learning difficulty in children can potentially lower self-esteem and ultimately lead children to develop a failure syndrome. Children that experience a failure syndrome believe that not being able to perform a particular task results from them being a failure. Rather than being inaccurate with a task, they feel that they are the inaccuracy. These children may consider lowered professional expectations, achieving a vocation or a profession lower than their actual potential. Early and appropriate intervention can change a child’s course of development from a lack of ability and frustration to an encouraged belief in himself.

Parents may feel a false sense of security by taking their child to a conventional eye doctor who says that their child’s eyes are fine because they see 20-20. Seeing clearly is important, but your child’s visual concerns may have nothing to do with eyesight and everything to do with inefficient and inaccurate eye coordination, focusing, and tracking ability.

Giving kids every chance

Parents, teachers, and school administrators have the power to advocate for our children. If we know that symptoms of these “impossible children” mimic behavioral vision dysfunction, we can give children the opportunity to explore appropriate evaluation and treatment strategies and a future that creates opportunity and success in their self-discovery.

If you do, you might be a parent that says, “Guess what? My child just picked up a book to read all by himself.”

Dr. Joel H. Warshowsky is an associate clinical professor emeritus and founding chief of pediatrics at SUNY College of Optometry, where he taught in vision therapy and pediatrics for 37 years. He is the author of “How Behavioral Optometry Can Unlock Your Child’s Potential,” and president of Vision From The Heart, a private practice comprised of three offices located in Roslyn, Long Island; Ringwood, New Jersey; and Riverdale, New York.