A Trip into the Behavioural Optometrist
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A visit to the Behavioural Optometrist must be a fun and interesting experience for any child. The test has to be more like a series of games and they need to be relatively painless so they can actually enjoy the experience.
Most Optometric examinations are geared towards adults, and thus when a kid enters those practices, they're treated like small versions of adults. Often they don't even have children's age correlated reading matter. A Behavioural Optometrist, on the other hand, is particularly trained to relate to children, and to present tasks and tests which may challenge but never belittle children, especially those struggling with learning disabilities.
A Behavioural Optometrist Must Relate to Kids
In our office, we start by greeting the kid, sharing a couple of jokes after which we test simple such things as distance vision, eye movements and convergence. I usually use a cartoon as a target when viewing the retina, and ask fun questions on their school, hobbies or family.
Then we do the bulk of your tests with children's charts, and fun things like stereo 3-D tests, which usually gets the children excited!
I will rarely use drops for a child, and only when I am desperate to obtain a result that I cannot get any other way. The drops paralyse their focus, which is what I would like to check under normal conditions! They blur the kids for the day, sting as they're inserted, and I feel they upset the kid and cause them not to trust you as a practitioner.
And in the long run, I involve the child themselves in our discussion, relating my findings to how they feel while doing homework or sitting in class. I need both parents and kids to grasp what needs to be done.
If vision therapy is required, and this is often true in learning difficulties, the Behavioural Optometrist needs to ensure the therapies are more like games than exercises. I want kids to enjoy the therapy, not whine through painful and arduous exercises! I design my very own therapies because they are more fun and hence done better by the kids than traditional Behavioural Optometry therapies.
That's what being a Behavioural Optometrist is all about to me!
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