Is it ADHD or is it the Eyes?

ADHD is becoming increasingly more common. Whether a child has an official diagnosis or not, hyperactivity and inattention in the classroom are at an all-time high. Kids are having trouble sitting still, paying attention, focusing, reading, and behaving properly in the classroom and at home.

So many times I see ADHD-like symptoms caused by the eyes not working properly, and it’s not the same as having 20/20 vision—that would be visual acuity. What I’m talking about is ocular-motor skills, meaning, eyes being coordinated together and fluidly able to track your environment. In other words, are your eyes able to move like they should?

For example, while reading, your eyes will first converge (meaning both eyes turn inward to focus on the word). Second, the eyes will track across the line. Third, when you get to the end of the line, you do what is called a saccade (when you dart your eyes back quickly to the next line).

Let’s say a child’s eyes have difficulty converging. Or when they try to track their eyes smoothly they instead bounce and jump, or they’re not accurate on their saccade back to the next line. If they’re not able to do any one of these steps, then their reading comprehension goes out the window, they may be accused of not concentrating, they will have more behavioral blowups because they’re not able to do what the rest of the class is able to do, etc. And this is just one example of something as simple as reading, let alone everything else they do in school.

The most common thing I see interfering with a child’s ability to coordinate their eyes properly are two specific primitive reflexes. The Asymmetric Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR) and the Symmetric Tonic Neck Reflex (STNR). Almost every child I see that has ADHD-like symptoms, has these two reflexes. What my care provides is getting rid of these reflexes, which sets a proper foundation for the eyes to start working in harmony.

If you think this could be the case for your child, I will extend a free primitive reflex assessment at the office if you mention this Edge magazine article. At the very least, you’d know if they have the reflexes that are holding the eyes back, which could very well be contributing to ADHD-like symptoms. Our office number is 402.504.4676. If you’d like more information, my Facebook page (@Dr.StephenStinn) is a great resource where I constantly update with new information and videos. Go check it out and give it a “Like!”

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