- Erin Igne
Does your child need glasses?
Being a parent is no easy feat. We want so badly to make sure our children will not needlessly struggle growing up. We want to give them the best start in life. But what is the "best start in life?" How would we define this? Having all the things that we didn't have growing up? Learning all the things that we didn't know or understand? Sparking an early love for reading and then seeing the many doors that it can unlock? Guiding them with a positive outlook? There are so many ways that we could guide our children towards a bright future.
One of the most important ways to guide our children is to understand their reality. What do I mean by "understand their reality?" We have 5 senses: touch, taste, smell, hearing, and sight. The information that we receive from the world through our senses shapes our perception of the world. It's how we understand and thus interpret our reality. In other words, our senses create an impression of our surroundings. If one of our senses isn't as strong as another, we will oftentimes develop ways to compensate, which then alters our perceived reality. Take for example a person who is blind; he may not be able to receive visual cues from his environment, but his brain has compensated by heightening his other senses like hearing and touch, thus his reality is different than a sighted individual.
For those with sight, it is our most prominent sense and will usually give the most information about our environment; is it light or dark? Spacious or crowded? It gives us our first views of a new surrounding, and based on what is seen, will determine whether we feel happy, sad, scared, terrified, or excited about where we are and whether we want to stay in that place. Sight determines the majority of our perceived world. A child with a visual condition oftentimes has no idea that there is something wrong. What often happens, is the child will compensate for the lack of a visual skill so that they function as "normally" as possible. Unfortunately, "as normally as possible," may mean seeing double, shutting one eye off, or overworking causing other symptoms like headaches or extreme tiredness. The problem is, these symptoms aren't completely obvious since the child is only aware of his own viewpoint or his "normal" way of seeing. He does not know that he shouldn't be seeing double or getting a headache after only 15 minutes of homework. Therefore, he will not know to tell someone that he isn't seeing well. This is his perceived normal reality and therefore, is unaware that his world could be viewed better.
Because the child does not know to say anything, he may start to have inner frustrations, sometimes externally manifested as "not trying". The child is so discouraged that he realizes it's easier to stop trying than it is to keep trying and subsequently keep failing. Imagine how much more discouraging that could be for a child who hasn't developed resiliency. Because of these struggles, he may never develop that resiliency.
So how do we help our children? The first step is observation.
Things to look for.
Do they hold reading materials extremely close to their face?
Do they trip or bump into things often?
Do they hate doing homework or reading assignments and they'll do anything to get out of them?
Do they forget things easily?
Do they skip words or lines when reading?
Do they substitute or change words when reading (e.g. Says "that" when it clearly says "then")?
Have they been diagnosed with a learning disability?
Not sure, but think they may have a learning disability?
Do they have a Dyspraxia diagnosis?
Do they have a Dysgraphia diagnosis?
If so, it's important to have him evaluated by a Developmental Optometrist or Behavioral Optometrist. This professional will be able to evaluate every aspect of your child's vision - not just whether he can read the 20/20 line, but how he uses both eyes in a coordinated fashion.