Visual Overload / Sensory Overload
Streff Syndrome – Differential Diagnosis
Test or Characteristic: Malingering/Hysterical Amblyopia /Streff Syndrome
Gender (ratio): 1:1/ Female 2:1/ Female 2:1
Age: any/ 8 – 14 yrs/ 6 -12 yrs
Attitude: hostile / Detached/ Amiable
Involved eye(s): uni or bilateral/ bilateral/ bilateral
Accommodation: normal/ possible spasm Unstable lag
Visual Fields: All implausible / restricted
Ocular health: normal / normal/ normal
Symptoms: various / recent onset of blur/Difficulty in school
Stereoacuity: normal/ reduced/ reduced
Color Vision: normal/ normal unreliable responses
Mobility: exaggerated difficulty? normal/ possible clumsiness
We have all had experiences when we are confronted with
too many things
at once. We find ourselves in situations in which we are
stopped in our tracks and can’t continue to think.
We become “overloaded”.
Streff Syndrome had been coined by Dr. John Streff himself
as “visual overload”. This is a condition in which
healthy children can no longer put their visual
function together as continuous meaning.
The symptoms can vary but commonly are unexplained
blurred vision in both eyes, an unstable focusing system,
reduced depth perception, clumsiness, occasional double vision,
and increased difficulties in school.
It is logical to reason that autistic spectrum children
have a “sensory overload” disorder. Which makes normal interaction
in the daily world too overwhelming for them.
Children with autism spectrum disorders have
motor, sensory, language and social-emotional delays
that are also affected by the lack of visual processing.
Likewise visual problems affect cognitive, speech/ language,
social-emotional and perceptual development.
Specifically, delays in oculomotor function, focusing,
and binocular abilities can affect gross and fine motor abilities
and language acquisition.
Sensory problems result when vision does not coordinate
with the vestibular (balance) and proprioceptive (touch,feel) systems properly, or if there is poor synchronization between
the central and peripheral visual systems.
What is important is that the time period from age 18 months to four years of age, when autism is usually diagnosed, is an extremely important window of development for vision as well as language, socialization and other crucial areas. During this time frame, vision should begin to dominate the movement system, to coordinate the proprioceptive, vestibular and tactile systems. Those with autism spectrum disorders simply have gaps in sensory, motor and visual areas so enormous that they cannot be closed without therapy.