Orthoptic visual processing difficulties clinic
Orthoptic Visual Processing Difficulties Clinic
The Orthoptic Visual Processing Difficulties (VPD) Clinic is a clinic run by Orthoptists to help children with eye problems related to or contributing to a reading or learning difficulty.
Visual Processing is the way the brain makes sense of visual information.
An Orthoptist is an eye specialist who is trained to diagnose and to treat eye movement disorders in adults and children and to help children with poor vision. In the Orthoptic Visual Processing Difficulties clinic, we look at problems such as eye movements during reading and other vision related problems such as visual perception difficulties.
1. What does your service do?
- The purpose of the service is to identify and correct visual difficulties that will in some way contribute to a child having a reading or general learning difficulty.
- Our service allows a child a better access to the curriculum by correcting visual difficulties and helping to provide an equal footing with other children. An example of a good outcome would be to correct a child’s inaccurate eye movement or binocular vision difficulty. This would allow them to track a line of text correctly and gain greater comprehension of what was read. Another example would be to enable a child to concentrate on text for a longer period without fatigue or eye strain/discomfort thereby allowing them to keep up with their peers and/or contribute to the lesson.
- Our typical activities in the clinic are visual tests looking at binocular vision, eye movement control and the way the brain ‘sees’ the written word and how we make sense of what we see.
2. Where are the clinics located and what areas do they cover?
- We are based at Warrington Hospital and we also do clinics at Halton Hospital and HCRC at Widnes. We see patients from areas such as Manchester, Liverpool, Northwich and Stockport, sometimes even further afield. We provide a comprehensive, NHS funded service to any school age child across the North West provided the meet the referral criteria (see later).
3. Who does your service provide for?
- We specialise in children with specific learning issues rather than general learning issues. For example we see children with problems such as dyslexia rather than general learning issues such as Down’s syndrome. (These children are cared for by a separate eye care team headed by my Orthoptic colleague who is in charge of the Warrington and Halton Orthoptic special educational needs team).
- In the VPD team we see children age 7 upwards. We also occasionally see adults.
4. How can I use the service?
- Parents are very welcome to ring for advice if needed. 01925 662772
- Referral into the service is through the local authority. This can be via the GP or the school. The parents can take the child to the GP and explain their concerns or the school can fill in the school screening questionnaire and send in a direct referral. The school screening tool is available on the Warrington and Halton Hospital website https://whh.nhs.uk
- The direct link is : https://whh.nhs.uk/services/orthoptics/orthoptic-visual-processing-difficulties-clinic
- The service is provided free via the NHS so no fee is payable.
- The waiting times can vary throughout the academic year depending on how many referrals we receive.
- The majority of referrals are through the school’s SENCOs. We would appreciate a little cover note to accompany the screening tool. Please also make sure that the parents are happy for their child to be referred.
Please address all referrals to:
Visual Processing Difficulties Clinic
Warrington and Halton Hospital foundation Trust
5. How are decisions made about who can use your service?
- The decision about who is referred into the service is ultimately the responsibility of the referrer. Using the questionnaire as a guide should eliminate inappropriate referrals. Research shows that 80% of children who have problems learning will have a problem that an Orthoptist can treat.
6. How do you communicate with service users and how are they involved in decision making/planning?
- After the first assessment a detailed report is sent to all the professionals involved in the child’s care. After each subsequent visit a letter will be given to take to school detailing that day’s assessment. The parents will also get a copy, as will the GP.
- We regularly audit the outcome of treatment on the child’s learning via questionnaires to the school and hospital audits, for example looking at improvements in the rate or accuracy of reading following exercises.
7. Is your service fully accessible?
- The buildings at Warrington and Halton are both fully accessible in line with hospital policy.
8. What training are the staff supporting children and young people with visual processing difficulties had or are having?
- All Orthoptists have completed a 3 year BSC Honors degree or equivalent and had extensive experience and extended role/post graduate training in visual processing difficulties. As Orthoptists we are all used to seeing a diverse range of ages and levels from babies to school children, to elderly patients with dementia. The VPD team are trained to communicate with and treat children with specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and autism.
- All staff are DBS police checked in line with hospital policy.
- We work very closely with school SENCos and teachers.
Who to contact
- Contact Name
- Kathryn Whitfield
- 01925 662772
Where to go
- Warrington and Halton Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Orthoptic Department, Kendrick Wing
- WA5 1QG
- Referral required
The purpose of the service is to identify and correct visual difficulties that will in some way contribute to a child having a specific learning difficulty.
Our service allows a child a better access to the curriculum by correcting visual difficulties and helping to provide an equal footing with other children. An example of a good outcome would be to correct a child’s inaccurate eye movement. This would allow them to track a line of text correctly and gain greater comprehension of what was read. Another example would be to enable a child to concentrate on text for a longer period without fatigue or eye strain/discomfort thereby allowing them to keep up with their peers and/or contribute to the lesson.
Our typical activities in the clinic are visual tests looking at binocular vision, eye movement control and the way the brain ‘sees’ the written word and how we make sense of what we see.
Please see the related link to our welcome to the clinic information sheet.
- Contact Name
- Kathryn Whitfield
- Contact Telephone
- 01925 662772