If your child has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), you may struggle with even routine medical appointments, making successful or fruitful vision and dental screenings seem like a pipe dream. Unfortunately, undiagnosed vision issues could cause problems with your child's ability to input and digest information, potentially compromising any therapeutic treatment and educational methods you pursue. What can you do to accurately test your child's vision without triggering a meltdown? Read on to learn more about the right time to have your autistic child's vision tested, as well as what you can do to help make this visit more pleasant for both your child and the ophthalmologist.
When should your child's vision first be tested?
In most cases, your child's vision will already have been tested at least once before he or she was diagnosed with autism—the American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends eye exams first be given to infants at around 6 months of age, then again at age 3 and again at age 5 or 6 (or whenever they begin the first grade). If vision problems are noticed at any point during one of these exams, children should undergo annual vision exams. Those without any issues can get by with every-other-year exams once they enter the first grade.
Unfortunately, many of the issues that make regular medical exams of your autistic child more challenging than normal can also be present when it comes to routine vision exams. Your child may be unwilling to be physically examined by a stranger or near-stranger, resulting in potentially violent outbursts as he or she struggles to escape. Ensuring calmness and cooperation is crucial when it comes to getting accurate results from a vision exam performed at a relatively young age.
What can you do to make this a pleasant and productive experience for your child?
There are several steps you can take prior to your child's vision exam to make it a more pleasant experience for everyone involved.
First, you may want to work with your child to create a visual story based on the visit. By working and role playing with your child prior to the visit and exploring the different tasks your child will be required to perform, he or she will be better prepared when it comes time to sit in the exam chair. You may want to role-play with your child with yourself as the optometrist or talk to your child and draw pictures of the different steps in the process, from first sitting down in the chair to reading letters aloud or allowing the optometrist to direct your child's vision with lenses.
You may also want to look for a vision specialist who specializes in the treatment of children with autism. Often, by taking steps as simple as substituting letters with shapes or cartoon characters, an optometrist will be able to achieve much more accurate results.than one using only letters. An autism-friendly optometrist can make all the difference when it comes to diagnosing any potential vision problems for your child. For more information or advice, companies like Cripe Stephens & Stickel may be able to help.Share
17 July 2016
Hi, I'm Deena, and as I neared middle age, I noticed that my eyesight wasn't as good as it used to be. I first started out needing reading glasses to read the small print in magazines, and then a few months later, I had to put them on to see the computer screen clearly. I knew by then that my eyes were getting worse and that I needed to do something quickly. I made an appointment with the optometrist and the doctor gave me an eye exam. Even though my sight wasn't as bad as I had feared, I still needed prescription glasses. I love my new glasses because I can actually see now. I have put together a lot of information about eye problems, eye tests and even various types of eye wear so that others don't wait as long as I did to see the eye doctor.