Rod Dreher

The NYT Magazine examines the controversial field of behavioral optometry, which holds that many kids diagnosed with ADHD and other modern maladies are actually suffering from neurological problems that can be cured or at least ameliorated with eye therapy. Though mainstream opthalmologists insist there is no scientific evidence to back this claim, there are lots of anecdotal testimony that it works. Here’s what I find interesting about this stuff:

When modern-day behavioral optometrists put this theory into practice, they talk about the demands of universal literacy. They talk about children who spend too much time indoors and not enough time outside, letting their eyes roam as their ancestors’ did, hunting and scanning the horizon for predators.
This overarching theory of eye and brain dysfunction resonates with parents, many of whom believe, as does Jeffrey Kraskin, an optometrist in Washington, that children with issues are merely canaries in the coal mine for the pathologies of our time, being labeled as “sick” when their bodies and minds can’t adapt to the accelerated demands of our era.
“A human problem becomes apparent when a demand is greater than the ability,” Kraskin says. “We’re making our demands on human beings earlier. If you push a person to do something before they’re ready, something’s got to give. And I think that when that thing gives, you see attention-deficit disorder.”

In other words, the post-industrial environment is so full of a particular kind of stimuli that the brains of some humans cannot easily adjust. Interesting hypothesis. Anybody here have any experience with behavioral optometry?
UPDATE: Julie reminds me that both of our boys have gone through something related to this. Our oldest, Matthew, has some pretty serious sensory processing issues. At some point several years ago, we had him looked at by Charles Shidlofsky, a neuro-developmental optometrist in Plano. I was there for the extensive testing they did on Matthew, and sat through them with him. What they revealed was that Matthew’s brain took information gathered by his eyes and processed it incorrectly, such that his brain thought his center of gravity was 8 inches or so behind him and to the right. So much of his lack of coordination, and attendant anxiety, was related to the fact that his body wasn’t sure where it was in space — a freaky condition, but we had proof from the testing.
Dr. Shidlofsky put Matthew in “prism lenses,” very expensive lenses that were sort of like braces for his eyes in that they were intended to retrain the optic nerve to send the correct information to the brain. After several weeks of wearing them, Matthew could catch a ball tossed to him. We noticed a definite improvement overall. I believe he had those lenses for two years before the problem was corrected, and he was able to go to normal lenses (for his astigmatism). Because these things can run in families, we had Lucas tested, and he too had a similar problem to Matthew’s, but not as bad. He’s in prism lenses too for now, but will be able to put them away once his eye-brain connection has repaired itself.
That sounds somewhat different from what the people in the NYT Magazine article are doing, but definitely on the spectrum.

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