University of Edinburgh
 

Assessing Vision in Children with Additional Support Needs: Why and How?

Presented on Wednesday 31 October, 2012
J Margaret Woodhouse, School of Optometry & Vision Sciences, Cardiff University

With thanks to Wirth, thanks to Julie McClelland, Kathryn Saunders, Janet Perry, Mike O'Carroll

Introduction

WHY do we need to assess vision in children with additional support needs?

WHAT kind of visual problems do children have?

  • HOW do professionals assess vision?
  • HOW can school staff assess vision?
  • HOW can school staff help?

Study in special schools in Glasgow, 228 pupils

  • 12.1% were visually impaired (WHO criterion)
  • 46.1% had refractive error requiring correction - only half of those with refractive error had adequate spectacles.

Das, Spowart, Crossley and Dutton. Evidence that children with special needs all require visual assessment. Archives of Diseases in Childhood 2010: 95; 888-892

Study in special schools in Wales, 152 pupils

  • 38% of pupils had NEVER had an eye test
  • 15% were visually impaired (WHO criterion) - only 6% of children have sight problems included in their Statement as primary or secondary need.
  • 53% had refractive error requiring correction - only 26% of those with refractive error had adequate spectacles.
  • 47% of pupils had an ocular abnormality/disorder

Woodhouse, Ryan, Davies. A clear vision: eye care for children and young people in special schools in Wales. Report for Welsh Government, 2012

Children with additional needs are MUCH more likely to have eye problems and much less likely to have their problems addressed.

Does it matter?

  • Inability to carry out a task may be put down to a learning disability.
  • Inability to understand a task may cause frustration and 'unacceptable' behaviour.
  • Inability to carry out tasks will hinder learning.

Children with additional needs have a greater need for good vision than do typical children.

Children with good intellectual capacity can compensate for poor vision.

Children with additional needs cannot 'intellectualise' to solve problems.