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ATN/AIR-P Tools for Successful Vision Exams

New experiences, including medical visits, can be difficult for individuals with autism. A trip to the optometrist’s office for a vision exam is one type of medical visit that can be challenging because an eye exam may be upsetting for patients who are over-reactive to sensory input. Because exams are done infrequently, desensitization through repetitive visits does not usually occur. The video Vision Exams for Individuals with Autism and accompanying social narrative lead families and caregivers through a visit to the optometrist’s office and a full, step-by-step vision exam. These tools can also provide insight into preparing ahead of time to make the visit as smooth, anxiety-free and productive as possible.

This video is also appropriate for optometrists who are not familiar with autism. Examination methods used here may differ somewhat from current standard-of-care practices: they are suggested for sensitive patients who may not be able to tolerate some sensations on the surface of the eye or around the face.

Click here to check out Vision Exam, a social narrative to help prepare children and adults with autism for visits to the eye doctor.

Author and creator Susan Connors, MD, wrote a blog introducing the resources and discussing the importance of preparing individuals on the spectrum for successful vision exams. Dr. Connors is an instructor at Harvard Medical School as well as a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Lurie Center for Autism.

"These materials are the product of on-going activities of the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network, a funded program of Autism Speaks. It is supported by cooperative agreement UA3 MC 11054 through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Research Program to the Massachusetts General Hospital. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the MCHB, HRSA, HHS, or Autism Speaks."