The answer to this question certainly depends on a number of variables, including what groups of children we are talking about and at which aspects of visual development we are looking. A study was done by the New York State Department of Education in conjunction with the New York State Optometric Association, in which they did testing on random samples of children in all socioecomic groups throughout New York State. It was found that around 23% of the general school population had visual development problems that were affecting learning in a significant way. In this study, when you looked only at those children identified under public law 94-142 as needing extra help in school, the percentage climbed to 93%.
In a study done in Baltimore with juvenile delinquents at the Hickey School in the late 1980’s, Dr. Paul Harris found the number of these 14-18-year-old boys with visual development problems to be in the mid-90’s percentage wise. In another study in the late 1990’s in several Baltimore City public schools, it was found that over 80 percent of the children had primary visual development problems. Without the visual problems being addressed, simply reducing class size, getting better text books, finding better teachers, or changing the pay system to a merit system will not result in significant gains. The visual problems need to be addressed so that the children can then benefit from their education.
Due to the prevalence of visual dysfunctions in children with learning difficulties, it is highly recommended that ALL children who are placed on an IPP program should be evaluated for Visual Information Processing and Oculomotor Dysfunctions to investigate if there are any visual dysfunctions that are creating a roadblock in the child's individual to learn.
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