Patching in class? Here are some tips!
Sometimes, a decrease in vision in children is not detected until the child begins school. With such a late diagnosis, many parents worry. Can my child patch during school? Can my child still follow the lesson if their good eye is patched? How can we meet the required patching times at home if my child goes to an all day school?
Everything is different at school
While patching can usually be easily integrated into everyday daycare and school life after a short period of getting used to it, many families face a challenge when their child starts school. Different rules apply at school than at home. The daily routine is also structured differently, which can take some time for the child to grow accustomed to. In addition, the lessons at school require undivided attention. It is important that children can concentrate on the subject matter and can clearly recognize the writing on the blackboard and in their books.
It may make sense at the beginning of occlusion therapy to refrain from patching during school so that the child can follow the lessons attentively. Especially at the beginning of treatment, children often still perceive the patch as a burden. The same perception applies if the weaker eye is below the visual acuity that a child needs to recognize letters and numbers. In this case, if the stronger eye is covered with a patch, there is a question that the weaker eye will not be able to see the blackboard or their books properly.
Some parents are also worried that wearing patches at school will have a negative impact on social interaction. In pre-kindergarten ages, the children are often complimented for their brightly colored patches. However, when they get to grade school it can be quite different.
Look for individual solutions and keep in touch
First of all, there is always a way to meet the required patching time without disrupting the child’s learning. It is helpful to include your child’s teacher and eye doctors to look for an individual solution that fits the child’s everyday life. Such a solution depends on various factors. How severe is the child’s visual weakness? How long should the eye patch be applied for each day? How comfortable is the child with the eye patches and how self-confident are they? Do they go to an all day school, or are they home in the afternoon? Are there free work times during class when the child can be patched? Are the school and teachers accepting of the treatment?
Parents should always contact their treating eye doctor or orthoptist directly with their questions and concerns. They have the experience to suggest different ideas and give tips on how to meet the required patching time with a school-aged child. If you wait until problems arise at school, it can make the situation unnecessarily difficult for the child and the school staff. In addition to the eye doctor or orthoptist, the child’s teacher may be able to offer some suggestions for patching during class time.
The most important thing is that there is an exchange and mutual feedback between all those involved. In this way, everyone can work together to find the right solution for the child.
Patching options for school children
A patching time of four hours per day can be easily accommodated at home in the afternoon if the child is only at school in the morning. If the child goes to an all day school, after consulting with the teacher, patching can be done during an activity or lesson in which visual weakness would be less of a problem. Depending on the visual acuity, this can be done during painting, crafting, or free work. After school care could be another option to meet the necessary patching times.
Support for occlusion therapy
Basically, the weaker seeing eye must be stimulated in order to get stronger by patching the good eye. If this lower vision is not treated, it can possibly lead to a permanent visual weakness that can not be corrected in adulthood. Patching therapy requires consistency to be successful.
There are several ways you can help to motivate your child so that patching time is not so much of a nuisance for them. We have some motivational tips as well as activities you can download to help occupy them during patching time. We also have colorful posters that the child can apply their used patches to and hang them in their room. They could also present the completed poster for a possible reward.