Visual Processing Disorder and Midline Crossing

by Katie
(Montrose, Co)

I was called by a teacher yesterday who explained that she had an exercise that she thought would help my 9 year old son read better. I met her after school that day. This teacher was my daughter's second grade teacher, four years ago. My daughter did not like school she had a very hard time focusing, this teacher did crossing the midline exercises with the class everyday and my daughter a few weeks into her class was a changed student! Her focus was amazing!

I requested that my son be in her class to no avail. He has been struggling with reading since 1st grade, as we'll as math. There are so many signs of Visual Sensory Disorder I see in him, like constantly mixing up p d q and b and 6, 9. Spelling is a struggle. He'll remember a word great one day and the next it's completely gone. He loses his place and skips words when reading. He was diagnosed to have Irlene Syndrome through the school last year too, which I believe is just a side affect of the VSD.

Well this teacher had him lay down on a pillow looking up at her, and had him follow a tennis ball on a short rope that he moved from one side slowly to the other, then up and down, diagonal, and around. As I watched his eyes I was amazed. No wonder the poor kid was struggling! His eyes constantly lost the ball, she would redirect him and sometimes he'd have to actually search for the ball when it was right there! While going from one side to the other his eyes would shot back the other way, not wanting to cross the midline! I feel horrible for not catching this sooner and worse for getting frustrated at him for not remembering words and not writing things correctly. So, now I just want to help him.

Everything I have read seems to point to VSD and crossing the midline problems. But they seem to be two separate issues? He uses his left hand to write, but when playing catch or anything else he uses both hands. His eyes are watery and red a lot, which I assumed was allergies, and he gets headaches as well. What is my next step? Could it be something more than either one of these things!? Should I just start with the exercise the teacher showed me? Is it possible that this one exercise maybe along with some other crossing midline exercises would eliminate the problem altogether? I know my son is incredibly smart and it has been so hard watching him struggle, and lose confidence in himself.

Comments for Visual Processing Disorder and Midline Crossing

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Your son's visual problems
by: OT Mom

Dear Katie,

You are doing the right thing in seeking help for your son, and that teacher deserves a medal for picking up his problems.

Please know that my reply does not constitute professional advice - this is merely my opinion!

Visual processing disorder, or visual sensory disorder as you call it, means that the brain is struggling to process the visual information it is receiving. However, this depends on accurate visual information being received. I would only diagnose a visual processing problem if the eyes are working well together (20/20 vision, PLUS good eye movements, convergence etc). It sounds as though your son has problems getting his eyes to work together, no wonder his brain cannot process the information properly - it is receiving faulty signals! I would first address the underlying visual problems before working on any VSD. There may well not be any VSD once the visual problems are addressed! This website is helpful: and it lists some organizations to help you find help in your area. Red, watery eyes and headaches are often symptoms of eyes that don't work well together, and cause massive strain on the child's ability to concentrate.

Crossing the midline exercises are helpful in getting both sides of the brain to work well together, which is a boost for learning. Many children benefit from using bilateral coordination activities and midline crossing exercises before and during lessons.

But I don't think this is your son's main issue. I think you need to get some vision therapy for him asap. Once his eyes stop jumping around so much while he is working, you should see a vast improvement in reading AND maths - especially if his maths mistakes come from switching numbers around, putting numbers in the wrong columns etc. I don't know much about Irlene therapy, but it may help your son after the eye movement problems have been addressed. Your vision therapy consultant should be able to advise you regarding that.

I hope this helps!

Thank you
by: Anonymous

Thank you! That does help. We have gotten his eyes checked but this was before this recent discovery. He has good vision. No glasses necessary. The Dr. Had not heard of Irlene Sundrome before. Thank you for your advice and I will check out the websites as well!

by: OT Mom

It is a pleasure!

Many kids with eye tracking problems have near-perfect 20/20 vision, and regular optometrists just don't seem to pick up the problems with eye movements. You have no idea how many kids I have seen who had "perfect vision" but lousy functional visual skills - they can see perfectly but can't use their eyes properly!

All the best with helping your son!

My 8 year old son
by: Anonymous

My son who will be starting third grade in Sept has been diagnosed with a visual processing disorder . I never heard of this before , but he does struggle in school. I have paid for tutoring for two years and finally we have an answer to why he struggles . He is so frustrated and thinks he is stupid . My heart is breaking for him .. Any advise would be appreciated . He is going to start therapy next week . I am hoping it helps , it is very costly but so was the tutoring . I would love to talk to other parents with the same problems . I have three girls also who do great in school .. So it's very hard for him

My son has similar problems
by: Angel Trujillo

My 10-year old son has Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum. That means he is missing the bundle of neural fibers that connect the right and left hemispheres of the brain. The result is that there's no direct communication between the left and righ sides of hid brain.

He's had some developmental issues, but mainly struggles with reading and short-term memory.

Thanks to what I read here I will look into vision therapy for him. I appreciate any advice you can provide as well.

Thank you,

Angel Trujillo

visual processing disorder
by: Anonymous

My son rec's OT for sensory processing disorder and his OT says he has issues crossing the midline...who do I take him to for diagnosis or help? He is so bright but falling behind in kindergarten in math and reading because I "see" him loosing his place when we work together.

v isual processing disorder
by: Anonymous

My grandson is in the process of testing for vpd. In my county/state this has to be done by an optometrist. Although the school teachers think this is his problem (and we do too), the school does not test for it. As it was sketchily explained to me, the condition is treatable. The eye dr. will do a 45 minute session with him once a week, and we will have 10 minutes of exercises to do daily at home. Once the testing is done and if he is found to have vpd, the dr. will evaluate the test results and then will be able to predict how long he will have to have therapy.

vision therapy- ohio
by: Anonymous-ohio

My 8 yr old son is currently under going vision therapy for an eye movement disorder- working also on crossing midline. So thankful that I took the time to investigate on my own- as his eye doctor- just wanted to do reading glasses even though his vision is 20/20. And our family doctor just wanted to check for ADHD. We drive 1.5 hours each way each week to therapy but so thankful we found it. Just wish his teacher would get on board-she makes us feel like terrible parents- she just doesn't understand at all- even though we have given her info from therapist.

Check for yourself
by: Anonymous

On a friend's advice, whose daughter is doing vision therapy, I decided to try simple exercise at home to check my sons eye movement, since he's always had reading issues - can only read 10-15 mins w/o being fatigued.
I had my son (age16) lay down on floor, face up, and follow a pencil left to right a few times. After two or three swipes his eyes started jumping cause they were already tired! It was so obvious! By his age, this should not be happening. (If you get thru side to side, do up down, then diagonals.)
Local optometrist didn't see any issue when I asked last fall, but they aren't trained to look for such things...just eye health & vision correction. Starting vision therapy w fingers crossed.

There is light at the end of the tunnel
by: Anonymous

Hi everyone. Just wanted to give you all some positive feedback on all the same problems I had with my son as well. He battled with vpd and midline crossing in grade 2. We also want to an optometrist to check his vision which was 20/20 however they picked up that his eyes weren't working together and sent me to a optometrist specialist. I sat in with the tests and it was just amazing to see how incorrectly my son was seeing things. They gave us a bunch of exercises to do. We only did them for a few months. Honestly Im not sure how much they helped because even now at 22 if he looks to the side one eye still moves down a bit instead of across. He has always just seemed like a late developer throughout the whole of his school years. But!!! My good news is that despite these problems he has managed to pass all his Commercial Pilots Licence exams (a pass is 75%) and he now just has to finish his flying hours. I remember as a mom with young children you just worry so much about what your kids will be able to achieve as adults. If these problems will be long lasting. What will happen if it doesn't improve. Well all I can say is praise them for all they do. Build their self confidence and let them know they can become anything they want to. Obstacles make u stronger. Good luck to all. You are all great mothers for being there to help ur children. Some children aren't so lucky. God Bless

thank you for sharing that!
by: Tracey

Thank you for sharing those words of encouragement!

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