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Nystagmus In Children: Helping The Little Angels To Deal With Nystagmus

Nystagmus in children is fairly common. It is estimated that in every 1000 babies, 1 baby will be born with nystagmus. 

Nystagmus is an eye disorder characterized by involuntary eye movements, which can swing from side to side, up and down and circular motion.

It is difficult to treat nystagmus as most are caused by neurological problems - meaning that parts of the brain that is controlling the eye muscles are not working properly.

Nystagmus also becomes worse when the person is under stress, experience fatigue and nervousness. 

It is likely that children with nystagmus will eventually face both physical and social issues in life. 

Constant movement of the eyes makes clear vision quite impossible.

Nystagmus in children causes the child to under perform in activities that require hand-eye coordination as their visual acuity and depth perception are affected.

Scary world

Children with nystagmus are often regarded as clumsy as they tend to trip easily due to poor depth perception.

Especially if they have strabismus also.

Looking ‘weird’ hurts self esteem.

It is particularly true for children as they are still in the process of building their self image and are extremely vulnerable to the judgement of others. 

Your child will need whatever help he or she can get to become successful in this world. 

Thankfully, nystagmus is usually discovered at a very young age.

This gives ample time for parents to prepare the child and themselves emotionally and physically before the child goes to school or start to become conscious of what people think.

Tackling Nystagmus In Children

You are all he can depend on
  • Tackle the nystagmus in children head-on by finding a trusted eye doctor who understands and knows how to treat nystagmus. Discuss with him or her what can be done for your child.
  • Do researches and understand nystagmus. Nystagmus children feel safer when their parents know what is going on and where to go from now.
  • Try vision therapy. Vision therapy is a set of eye exercises designed to improve eye muscles control. Look for an eye professional who is specialized in vision therapy for help. You can try checking out the College of Vision Development (COVD) for such professionals.
  • Help your child to find the angle of vision (null spot) which the print seems clear. 
  • Help your child's teachers understand the basics of nystagmus, including how the condition affects ability to see, learn and interact with other children.
  • Encourage the child to explain her visual needs to classmates and other teachers. But kindly reject continual undue attention to such needs.
  • Things are difficult to see at far distance for child with nystagmus. Ask the teacher to place them where they can see the black or whiteboard most comfortably.
  • Buy large-print books such as cartoon story books for them to read.
  • Make sure that your child has his or her personal books or worksheet as it is very hard for nystagmus child to share due to distance and angle of view.
  • Encourage the child to read using a pointing aid such as dark card, ruler or finger. It can help her to keep track of where she stops when her eyes drifted.
  • Try to treat her like any other healthy children. Don’t lower your expectations and make her feel disabled. They are just as capable and many children with nystagmus grow up  fine. 
  • Become comfortable with explaining nystagmus and the effects of nystagmus in children to family, friends and others who notice your child's eyes swinging back and forth. Keep your explanation short, to-the-point and positive.
  • Be positive. The person whom your child needed most is you. Nystagmus is not the end of the world. As they grow up, children with nystagmus need help in understanding why their eyes are different. Reassure children that nystagmus won't stop them from being normal kids and normal adults

Tips For Teachers 

Teachers can your greatest ally

Considering the number of hours a child will spend in school everyday, teachers can be great allies in helping children with nystagmus to learn successfully and accepting their special-ness.

It will benefit both the parents and teacher greatly if they understand more about the effects of nystagmus in children.

Here are some ways which teachers can help children with nystagmus:

  • Place wall displays for reference at the eye level and where the child with nystagmus can stand close to it.
  • Check with the child what visual aids are useful to her and store them in places that the child can easily reach when needed.
  • Allow the child to use prescribed tinted glasses, a cap, hat or eyeshades to reduce the effects of glare (people with nystagmus often have light sensitivity).
  • While you are writing on the board, read aloud and describe any diagrams you draw.
  • Allow the child sufficient time to complete tasks and to examine materials and objects.
  • Proper lighting is essential. Prevent glare and light reflection by placing the light behind the students and matte smooth or bright surfaces.
  • Though the child needs special assistance, try not to call too much attention to her differences.
  • Keep close in contact with the parent of the child to provide best support.

Print this list out and share with your child's teachers.

hey will become more adept at helping your child and hopefully your child will enjoy her schooling experience better.

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