Children Lose "Special Education" Label After Receiving Proper Vision Care

In our previous newsletter, we featured a story about Mobile Vision Services, an outreach program through the A Chance To Grow Vision Services department. Because 40-67% of children do not receive the recommended follow-up eye exams and glasses after failing vision screenings and research shows that children from lower-income families typically have lower vision skills, we decided to bring vision exams directly to children, specifi cally those most in need. We established Mobile Vision Services and immediately reached out to one of our established partners, Anoka-Washington Head Start.

The new Mobile Vision Services model exceeded our expectations! With help from the Spot PediaVision tool, a 2 ½ pound device that takes a picture of the eye in ¾ of a second, we tested the vision of children at Head Starts as young as six months old. Not only did we provide in-depth eye exams to 82 children of varying ages and provide 55 at-risk children with glasses, we found three children who were especially in need of vision care. The fi rst had been labeled “special education” before he received his exam, a label that is a bleak sentence in the current education system.

“Even though he had not yet been placed in special education classes, he had been pegged as that,” Dr. Janyce Moroz, ACTG Developmental Optometrist, said when discussing one of the children. “And the real problem was that he couldn’t see beyond four inches in front of his face!”

But once the student put on glasses, he started performing well in school and is now no longer labeled “special education.” The second student had a cataract and the third had specifi c visual problems that required vision therapy.

Had these children’s vision issues not been addressed through Mobile Vision Services, they would have continued on in school unable to see correctly, putting them at risk for behavior problems, low reading scores, continued placement in special needs programs, frustration and little hope when it comes to learning.

Going forward, we hope to bring exams to more children in both St. Paul and Minneapolis and continue implementation at the Anoka-Washington Head Starts.