Visiting the doctor can be a stressful experience for families. Parents often struggle with medical jargon and are left wondering what can be done to support their child’s vision loss. Children with visual impairments may be afraid of the unfamiliar environment and intimidated by the unusual tests. They may experience sensory overload and be resistant to participating in the visual assessments. The vision diagnosis can also be overwhelming, and parents might feel anxious about their child’s future and the next steps.

Collaborating with your medical providers is crucial. Gathering information about your child’s vision will help shape the adaptations you implement at home and the interventions your child receives from their teacher for the visually impaired at school.

Preparing for your child's medical appointments can help alleviate anxiety and ensure you get the information you need.

Prepare information ahead of time: 

  • Write down your child’s medical history and how your child’s visual impairment has impacted your family. 
  • Create a list of visual behaviors you have observed your child performing during daily routines at home. This should include their habits, likes and dislikes, how they play, and social behaviors. 
  • Include your family priorities and wishes for your child.  
  • Include concerns and questions about how your child is using their vision to access the world around them.

Preparing your child:

  • Ask your eye doctor about scheduling a tour or “tech visit” before your child’s eye exam to increase your child’s comfort in the medical setting. Your child can explore the office, examination chair, and some of the equipment the eye doctor will use to check their eyes. You may even bring a stuffed animal or doll to get its eyes checked. 
  • Consult your child’s orientation and mobility instructor for suggestions on how to familiarize your child with the doctor’s environment. 
  • Talk about everything that will happen at your child’s upcoming eye exam. Knowing what to expect can set children at ease and minimize fears of the unknown. There are many wonderful books and YouTube videos about other kids going to the eye doctor, and some families create personalized social stories with pictures to read before going to an eye appointment.
  • Roleplay at home by taking turns being the eye doctor and checking each other's eyes or performing pretend eye exams on your child’s dolls and stuffed animals. 
  • It is OK to feel nervous before an eye appointment; normalizing your child’s fears can help them feel supported and understood.
  • Make it positive! Bring a favorite toy to the appointment, pack special snacks, wear a funny hat, play music on your phone. A little fun goes a long way.
  • Many children’s hospitals have child life specialists and/or music therapists. Consider calling ahead to ask about these resources for your child.

Reach out to your teacher for the visually impaired (TVI) for support:

  • You can ask your TVI to review your child’s past medical reports with you. What tips can they offer as you prepare for the appointment? 
  • Ask your TVI to write a letter to the eye doctor that includes information gained from their functional vision assessment, learning media assessment, and expanded core curriculum assessment. 
  • Invite your TVI to attend the eye doctor appointment with your family for support.  They may or may not be able to support you in this manner. 
  • After the appointment, schedule a follow-up time with your TVI to share information and the updated vision report. If you have any questions or concerns, discuss them with your TVI to get clarification.

While you are at the appointment:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Write them down ahead of time and take them with you! 
  • Ask the doctor to explain what they are doing during the exam; this is information for you as well as your child. 
  • Ask for clarification on medical terms that you don’t understand and take notes while you are there.
  • Ask for a written report that includes descriptions of the tests performed and the results.

​From MDE-LIO Parent Liaison Amy Shepherd, MDE-LIO Education Consultant Sara Cruchelow, and Parent Abby Koroma