Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Seeing Things Clearly in the Classroom

Here at The Yellin Center we routinely screen the students we evaluate for vision and hearing problems. These are not in depth exams, but are designed to pick up vision or hearing difficulties that should be followed up with an ophthalmologist or hearing specialist. Students who can't see the board or clearly hear instructions from their teacher will not be able to perform at their best.  

As with most school districts, the New York City Department of Education arranges for regular vision screening of all children (during pre-K and in first, third, and fifth grades). Students who are new to the City or who are referred for special education evaluations, as well as students whose teachers suspect a vision problem are also screened by the DOE. At this point in time, routine hearing screenings have discontinued. The DOE outlines its procedures for screenings on its website.

But is screening for vision problems enough? Finding a problem is only one step in improving a child's vision. Researchers in Baltimore recently published findings that demonstrated the effectiveness of a highly proactive approach to helping children with vision deficits. Second and third graders from low income families were given eye examinations and those that were found to need glasses (182 out of 317) were given two pairs -- one for school and one for home. Furthermore, teachers made sure that the students wore their glasses in class and made sure that any broken glasses were promptly repaired or replaced. The researchers found that the students who now had reliable vision aids, without burdening their families, had statistically significant improvements in reading.
Both parents and teachers need to be mindful of the need for children to not only have the corrective lenses they need for maximal visual acuity, but to actually have their glasses with them and to wear them at all appropriate times. 

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