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A window to the soul

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02 August 2016

By Bruce Madden, Financial Media Services.

If eyes are the window to the soul, then the work of James Sleeman, optometrist and Fitzpatricks client, is a window to the future of holistic health care for kids.

Welcome to the world of behavioural optometry.

Never heard of it?

Neither had your author. But a growing number of parents from the NSW Central Coast are seeking out James to help unravel the mysteries and patterns of various ‘disorders’ holding back their child’s development and learning.

The basic thing you need to know about behavioural optometry according to James is that it’s based on helping the patient ‘get more off the page’. It begins with ensuring the proper functioning of the eyes, but also takes into account the unique ‘bio-individuality’ of each human being.

James takes a special interest in children with behavioural or learning challenges. So, should a child present with so-called ‘difficulties’ – behavioural optometry helps to unpack and better understand the often complex relationship between the eye, the information it receives, how the brain processes it, and the overall physical, emotional and intellectual wellbeing of the person.

Traditional optometry (seeking to test eye function) is the starting point for an holistic and often complex discovery into a range of factors that may conspire to cause a kid to ‘fall behind’ at school or just keep up in their family or social context.

Typically, kids might present with symptoms that are labelled ‘dyslexia’. Unpacking what that actually means for each individual child is part of the task that James has researched and is finding a growing success rate with amongst his patients.

James has made it his scientific mission, sparked by his own childhood experience of struggling at school and later university, to test for himself an array of treatments to help challenged kids. Such treatments don’t always sit strictly within conventional medicine, and so James tests each for himself.

Says James: “a key thing in observing my own children with food sensitivities was discovering that I could not get what I considered was comprehensive help. Mainstream treatments did not seem to be keeping up with a range of ideas and being relevant to the specific needs of my own children.

“So, in effect, the journey of solving my own kids’ food allergies gave me license I suppose to begin doing some research for myself. Doing my own research, testing and finding out for myself, has added some validity and personal experience to my approach.”

James says the emerging field of low level laser or light therapy (photo bio-modulation if you want to Google it), can have beneficial impact.

Tinted lens therapy, he says, can also help kids with dyslexia.

Improving general light exposure can help to redress the effects of a modern lifestyle. The simple absence of natural light in our lives can lead to disrupted sleep, which in turn leads to challenges in the classroom and even increasing myopia (short sightedness) rates.

Studies have shown increasing natural light and time spent outside can reduce the rates of myopia progression.

Increasing natural light exposure in the morning and midday and decreasing blue light in the evening has improved circadian rhythms leading to better sleep.

“We have had some great results from those who keep an open mind, and stay with the program. A parent recently commented that the child (patient) had ‘turned around’ – and that for us is a great outcome.”

For more information on James, please visit his website – www.sleemanoptometry.com.au

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