September is literacy month in Florida and I thought I would briefly discuss the connection between functional neurology with regard to reading difficulties. This article will deal more with getting the information into the brain rather than what areas of the brain process different types of information. In order to read properly, there must be coordinated eye movement at a near distance. This means that the right eye must be talking to the left eye with regard to movement. The pupils must also be active, responsive and working together. In addition, there are different areas of the brain that initiate and stop eye movement. This relates to moving from one word to another as well as moving down to the next sentence. For proper reading to take place all these activities must function in synchrony. For example, if one eye does not move in conjunction with the other, the reader will experience double vision or one eye will shut down in order not to confuse the brain. This is all important from a reading standpoint, but realize that the functional neurologist is using this information as a way to assess brain function. It is by addressing deficient or desynchronized brain function that we make the difference to the reader. This means that, not only will the reader be given specific eye exercises in order to facilitate proper eye function and coordination but that other parts of the body may be brought into the treatment in order to smooth and coordinate brain function and thereby help with eye movements when reading. In my office, we have a simple 15 minute test which evaluates eye movements during reading which provides us with considerable information regarding brain function. This is a painless task which requires no preparation and is very much appropriate for children.
The ability to read is important in order for children to succeed in school as well as in life. In school a child who is frustrated with an inability to read may begin to have behavioral issues as his peers start to label him as “dumb.” In addition, if he cannot read and do the work then he may become bored and inattentive. This may lead to a miss diagnosis of ADHD and even perhaps a child being placed on medication that is unnecessary. As these children become older and progress through life their rates of juvenile delinquency may increase. One study revealed that 90% of the juvenile delinquents participating could not read. Thus, simple but many times undetected functional reading problems may come at great cost to you and your child but also a greater cost to society. Thus, before you place your child on ADHD medication please be sure to discuss the issue of near point coordinated eye movement with your doctor.