Since Autism Awareness month was in April, I have been doing more research on how vision is affected by the diagnosis. As you might remember in this blog, “The goals of treatment may be to help the autistic patient organize visual space and gain peripheral stability so that he or she can better attend to and appreciate the central vision and gain more efficient eye coordination and visual information processing.”
The main phrase that stood out to me was “peripheral stability.” I emailed some fellow Vision Therapist on ways I can incorporate more fun peripheral vision exercises into our treatment. From there I looked for articles about peripheral vision and found an article by Dr. Gallop, titled “The Peripheral Visual Awareness: The Central Issue”. The article had so much great information that I thought I would share a few tidbits that helped me a lot.
“Peripheral vision is the lion’s share of vision and, is also a big part of life. It is involved with detecting and understanding the big picture – the context and changes in our environment. At least visually speaking, it helps to keep us in touch with our relationship to everything with which we share visual space. Peripheral vision is at the heart of awareness of, and response to, the total space volume of our visual environment and all its inhabitants. Without the involvement and guidance of peripheral awareness, the fovea would, for the most part, be “lost in space,” not knowing where to turn.”
“This may also contribute to attention problems because without sufficient peripheral awareness, the context of visual space is lost and it becomes difficult to distinguish figure from ground. The environment becomes a series of unconnected, unrelated details to be dealt with one at a time – the background is practically non-existent.”
“It is important to note that the real importance of peripheral awareness is not in the receiving of information as much as is it is in response to that information. Knowing what is in our surroundings is important in the context of an action for survival. While it is certainly important to know what is going on out there, it is equally important to know what needs to be done and how to go about doing it in response to what is going on out there. Peripheral vision provides an early warning system and is what guides our movements in response.”
“Peripheral vision supplies us with information about our relationship to our surroundings. It tells us where we are in relation to people, places, and things in our immediate vicinity. It can provide significant information about who they are, what they are doing, and how that may affect us at that moment and in the near future. When functioning comfortably and effectively it can provide accurate information regarding size, shape, the direction of movement, and even intent.”
“Just as improvements achieved through vision training often transfer into improvements in areas such as problem-solving, concentration and self-esteem, improvements in peripheral processing may transfer into more so-called peripheral aspects of our lives.”
Our peripheral vision is not something to mess around with. It is important for our survival! I loved this article! Next week I will gather up some great peripheral vision awareness exercises that you can do at home.