Orthoptic Visual Processing Difficulties Clinic

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About this service

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.

  • 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.
  • 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).
Our facilities

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).

In the VPD team we see children age 7 upwards. We also occasionally see adults. After each assessment a detailed report is sent to all the professionals involved in the child’s care. For example; parents, school, referrer (if different), GP, and any other relevant healthcare professional’s involved in your child’s care e.g. occupational therapist or community Paediatrician.

At the final visit we also ask if the help we have provided has made any difference to the child at school. This helps us to observe any impact our service is having on the child’s school career. Below are some quotes we have received from parents about the treatment their child has received on the VPD clinic:

"Without this help following my daughters diagnosis I am not sure that she would have improved the way she has with her school work. This I believe has allowed her to now go onto college and study A-levels"

"This service has been of great value to my daughter, it has enabled her to receive further support and understanding from teachers in school. It has also helped her to understand why she finds some tasks difficult and now she can improve her reading skills to help her. Thank you."

"My Son was discharged as he was nearly finished college and we were hoping college would help him get coloured glasses. Unfortunately the college will not help but he continues with the overlay and changes the background colour on the computers."

"The support provided and advice given has helped my child's school understand his needs and better accommodate him. Ensuring he is seated in correct place, using coloured paper and overlay. This has reduced some of the stress my child feels at school when writing/reading. Highlighting this problem has been vital in understanding his problems and seeking solutions where possible."

"Thank you for all your help. I really feel it has made a huge difference to my Son’s school work and most importantly his confidence. I am sure helping him so much at this age will make a difference to all his schooling."

"My child was continually assessed and we felt that her difficulties although maybe minor compared to other diagnoses, the department were thorough, consistent and approachable. My Daughter was made to feel important and was helped to achieve her potential at school. I feel that although she has been discharged should we have any difficulties in the future, the department would still be there for us for any support/advice. Thank you."

"Thank you for providing such a worthwhile and important service at Warrington. I will and already have recommended your service to others. My son is dyslexic, it is easy to get swamped and lost in a sea of trying to help but your report has proved pivotal in getting my Son’s high school involved and the recommendations are clear and achievable. Thank you."

"My Son was discharged as he was nearly finished college and we were hoping college would help him get coloured glasses. Unfortunately the college will not help but he continues with the overlay and changes the background colour on the computers."

"The support provided and advice given has helped my child's school understand his needs and better accommodate him. Ensuring he is seated in correct place, using coloured paper and overlay. This has reduced some of the stress my child feels at school when writing/reading. Highlighting this problem has been vital in understanding his problems and seeking solutions where possible."

"Thank you for all your help. I really feel it has made a huge difference to my Son’s school work and most importantly his confidence. I am sure helping him so much at this age will make a difference to all his schooling."

"My child was continually assessed and we felt that her difficulties although maybe minor compared to other diagnoses, the department were thorough, consistent and approachable. My Daughter was made to feel important and was helped to achieve her potential at school. I feel that although she has been discharged should we have any difficulties in the future, the department would still be there for us for any support/advice. Thank you."

"Thank you for providing such a worthwhile and important service at Warrington. I will and already have recommended your service to others. My son is dyslexic, it is easy to get swamped and lost in a sea of trying to help but your report has proved pivotal in getting my Son’s high school involved and the recommendations are clear and achievable. Thank you."

Meet the team

The team consists of fully qualified Orthoptists who have specialised in the area of assessing children with visual processing difficulties. Each Orthoptist has completed the relevant post graduate training and has extensive experience in this area. As Orthoptists, we are trained to assess patients of all ages and abilities, which enables us to be flexible with our approach and allows us to adapt our testing to suit individual needs. We are trained to communicate with children with specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and ASD. We work closely with school SENCO's and teachers in order to gain the best holistic care for each child.

  •  Kathryn Whitfield (Lead Orthoptist for the service)
  • Lindsay Grant
  • Kate Greenwood
  • Jenny Shave
  • Frankie Reed
  • Tracey Parry
  • Emma Rowett
What are the waiting times?

The waiting times can vary throughout the academic year depending on how many referrals we receive. All referrals are seen within the 18 week target time however typically the initial appointment is within 6 weeks.

Referral information for Teachers/Education professionals and Health care professionals

Referrals into this service can be done via your child’s GP or their school. If the school decide to refer a child they can also complete the school screening tool and send this with the referral.  Please see the following link to the school screening questionnaire. 

Screening questionnaire for referral into the service by health care professionals

Who can I contact for further information?

Please contact Kathryn Whitfield who is the Lead Orthoptist for the Orthoptic Lead Visual Processing Difficulties Clinic at Warrington and Halton Hospitals.

Warrington and Halton Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Orthoptic Department

Daresbury Wing

Lovely Lane

Warrington

WA5 1QG

 

Tel N01925 662772

Warrington Hospital