An annual trip to the eye doctor is an important part of any child's life. An eye doctor is able to determine if there are any vision problems that may be affecting how your child learns or plays. An eye doctor is also able to see if there may be underlying health problems that are affecting your child. If you have a special needs child, it can be difficult to get your child to the appointment and through the exam without tears and frustration. Here are some tips to help you help your child with an eye exam.
Never surprise your child with a visit to the eye doctor. A fear of any doctor often comes from not understanding what is going to happen or why. Explain to your child why it's important that they see the eye doctor and how an eye doctor can help them. If possible, take your child with you when you have an eye exam so they can see what to expect. Many doctors will allow this, and you may be able to have your child's eyes checked as soon as your own exam is finished.
Use Social Stories
A social story is a story that is designed to help a child understand a particular situation. These stories were originally designed for those with autism, but will work well for many children. The stories provide a guide to how a child should behave in a certain situation, and what they can most often expect from others in that same situation. For a trip to the eye doctor, a social story may explain what the eye doctor does, how an exam is performed, and how a patient should behave.
No matter how old you are, you've never too old to play a game of pretend. Let your child pretend to be a patient while you pretend to be the eye doctor. Go through a pretend exam and try to make it as much like a real exam as you possibly can. For example, you can use charts or empty eyeglass frames. Then switch roles, and let your child pretend to be the doctor. If you ask, your eye doctor may even allow your child to take a look at their equipment as the exam starts.
These tips can help any parent get their child through an eye exam without frustration or fear. (For more information on eye doctors, contact a practice such as Bethany Vision Clinic)