Finding the right optometrist for your child can take time and patience. Here are our tips to help you along the way:
Do your homework. Research is key when it comes to finding the right optometrist for your child. Look for recommendations from trusted sources. Talk to your child’s pediatrician, therapists, and ask other parents.
Seek expertise. If you can, choose a doctor with experience working with children with diverse needs. You can ask potential providers things like, “Have you ever worked with an autistic child before?” or “How do you accommodate patients who have difficulty sitting still?”
Consider communication and patience. It’s important to find an optometrist who is patient, empathetic, and communicates well with children. Special needs kids may have unique challenges when it comes to eye exams and expressing their needs. A compassionate and understanding optometrist can make a world of difference in creating a comfortable environment for your child.
Check the office environment. Pay attention to the atmosphere of the optometrist’s office. Is it child-friendly? Does it have a welcoming and inclusive environment? A space that caters to the needs of children with sensory-friendly waiting areas and a wide range of age-appropriate toys can help put your child at ease during visits.
Ask about specialized equipment and techniques. Ask about specialized equipment they use for special needs children. This can include tools to assess visual acuity, eye tracking, and coordination. How can they accommodate children with physical or cognitive challenges?
Visual aids can be a game-changer when it comes to preparing your child for new experiences. Create a social story or a visual schedule that explains what will happen during the eye exam. Include pictures or drawings to help them understand the process and what to expect. Going through the visual supports with your child beforehand can help ease anxiety and build familiarity.
Videos can also be a great tool to help prepare your child for what to expect during their eye exam. Here is a great example from the QuadSquad!
To help things go even smoother, review the visual aid of your choice with your child multiple times — a week before, a few days before, and then again the day before.
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differences, anxiety and other developmental concerns.