Labels are the results of identifiable traits or behaviors exhibited by a child. Oftentimes, these traits or behaviors have an underlying medical cause that requires treatment. It is important to be aware of any signs or symptoms of potential issues and take care of them immediately.
Sometimes an eye or ear problem can mimic other behavioral or health issues, so it is important to not label a child before a vision or hearing issue is ruled out.
Many childhood disorders and diseases have overlapping symptoms so an accurate diagnosis takes thoughtful investigation. An accurate treatment cannot take place until the real reason behind the symptoms are diagnosed. For example, comparing the DSM IV (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and the American Optometric Association, many of the symptoms of ADD/ADHD are the same as symptoms of a vision problem such as:
- Fails to give close attention to details/makes careless mistakes
- Difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities
- Does not listen when spoken to directly
- Does not follow through on instructions or fails to finish work
- Difficulty organizing tasks and activities
- Often loses things
- Often distracted by extraneous stimuli
- Often forgetful in daily activities
- Often avoids, dislikes or is reluctant to engage in tasks requiring sustained mental effort
Hyperactivity and Impulsivity
- Often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat
- Often has difficulty remaining seated when required to do so
- Often talks excessively
- Often blurts our answers to questions before they have been completed
- Often has difficulty awaiting turn
- Often interrupts or intrudes on others
Children can develop negative behaviors to escape tasks that may be too hard for them simply because of an undetected vision or hearing problem. A child may be viewed as lazy or uncooperative when they actually cannot participate because it is too hard for them to see clearly. A child who cannot see properly spends extra effort decoding words and will read at a slower pace with lower comprehension. All this extra time spent struggling to see leads the child to feel stressed or frustrated causing them to act out or have low self-esteem.
A child may be viewed as shy or even rambunctious when they have a hearing problem. They could seem reserved because they are missing parts of conversation or be the exact opposite and shout out loudly because hearing is difficult. Hearing loss is associated with speech and language delays, so a child may seem unmotivated when they don’t respond to questions or don’t volunteer to read aloud. In reality, the child doesn’t hear clearly to be confident enough to participate.
Vast academic, social, and emotional improvements can be seen in a child after a vision or hearing issue is treated. After a vision problem is corrected, the child may no longer avoid reading. Behavior can improve because the stresses of not being able to see clearly are removed simply by wearing glasses. After a hearing problem is treated, the child may come out of their shell and be confident.
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