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Over the last 30 years, Dr. Jeff Getzell has successfully treated many patients who have been diagnosed with disabilities on the autism spectrum such as Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder and Pervasive Development Disorder.  
Following is a list of visual symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorders: 

  • Poor attention to surroundings as well as a lack of interest in one’s environment. 

  • Preference for looking at objects (or parts of objects) rather than people, particularly objects which can be spun or twirled. 

  • Stereotypical and repetitive motor mannerisms (i.e., hand or finger flapping).  

  • Restricted patterns of interest with abnormal intensity or focus. 

  • Inflexible adherence to nonfunctional routines or rituals. 

  • Lack of seeking shared enjoyment (i.e., not showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest). 

  • Either a delay or a lack of responses.  

  • Becoming verwhelmed by new or busy environments (i.e., sensory overload). 

  • Difficulty transitioning from one activity to the next. 

  • Little or no eye contact even with family. 

  • Lack of facial expression and gestures for communicative purposes, as well as a lack of understanding of other people’s facial expressions and body language.  

  • Inadequate judgment of depth (e.g., spilling or knocking things over). 

  • Clumsiness or awkwardness in physical activities. 


Patients with autism spectrum disorders may not have all of the above symptoms when a vision problem is contributing to their difficulties; any of the above symptoms could signal a vision problem. Vision problems can make it even more difficult for people with an autism spectrum disorder to think and move. These individuals tend to see the world in small chunks and thus it takes them longer to organize a wide variety of information and deal with busy or dynamic environments.  

With appropriate care, which includes a wide variety of therapeutic techniques, people with autism can improve their lives dramatically. Some individuals may even be able to lead a normal lifestyle and require few, if any, modifications in their educational experiences. 

A Behavioral Vision Evaluation is a crucial step to determine the degree to which vision is contributing to an individual’s difficulties. Once the evaluation is completed, Dr. Getzell will review findings and treatment recommendations with you.   When vision problems are treated, it can often make all the difference!

Behavioral Optometry, Ltd.

Jeffrey Getzell, OD, FCOVD, FCSO

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