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Helping Your Child   

Being an Advocate

You need to be your child's advocate. This is particularly important if you think your child has a vision problem. Many people will not be aware that such problems can occur.

Here are some things you can do to make sure your child's vision is ok:

  • If you think your child has an eye or vision problem, have the child seen by an eye doctor, not just a school nurse or pediatrician.
  • Make sure the eye doctor has experience with childhood eye and vision problems.
  • Provide information to the eye doctor. Nothing is too trivial to mention. You will feel more sure of the diagnosis if you have mentioned everything you have noticed about the child's eyes and vision.
  • Ask questions. Make sure you know what problem the doctor thinks your child has, why a certain treatment is being recommended, and what results should be seen when.
  • If the eye doctor tells you that there is no problem, but you still think there is, take the child to another eye doctor. You may want to get the opinion of both an ophthalmologist and an optometrist.
  • If you feel uncomfortable with the treatment plan, talk about your concerns with the doctor. If in doubt, get a second opinion.
  • If the vision problem does not improve over time, ask that the treatment plan be changed. If in doubt, get a second opinion.

A Team Approach

Keep in mind that children may have several problems that are making it difficult for them to read and write. For example, children can have a problem with vision and hearing. Also, if untreated, vision problems can lead to frustration and behavioral problems. Once children have trouble in school, they may feel they can't succeed. Failure can lead to more failure and some children act out or just give up.

For some children, the input of different professionals and different interventions can be helpful. You may feel more confident in the advice you get if several professionals agree on the problem. However, there are times when the professionals will disagree. When that happens, get as much information as you can and use your best judgment to do what you believe works best for their child.

Input from the following types of professionals may be helpful. They are listed in alphabetical order. The best person to start with it is likely to be your child's classroom teacher.

Child psychiatrist: For some children the cause of a learning difficulty could be attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A psychiatrist can diagnose and treat this disorder.

Child psychologist: Educational testing by a child psychologist may help to determine what factors (physical or emotional) may be influencing a child's performance in school.

Classroom teacher: This person has the most information about the child's daily progress in school. He or she may be the first to notice that there is a learning problem. The classroom teacher should always be informed of any evaluation results or advice that you get from others working with your child.

Eye doctor: An optometrist or ophthalmologist that specializes in children's vision can identify whether a vision problem is making learning difficult.

Hearing specialist: A hearing evaluation can determine if a problem with hearing or interpreting sounds is interfering with a child's ability to do school work.

Occupational therapist: An occupational therapist can assess a child's gross and fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination to see if they are interfering with the ability to read or write.

Pediatrician or family doctor: A pediatrician or family doctor can help identify any health problems that may interfere with learning.

Reading specialist: A reading specialist uses special techniques to help children improve their reading and writing skills. Specialists may differ in the ways they help children and in their experience with different types of learning problems.

Special education teacher: Teachers who teach special education students may use different methods of teaching than reading specialists.

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Date of Last Update: 07/27/12