Dr. Mark Changizi
There are several early warning signs when a child is suffering from colorblindness. One tell-tell sign is that they smell their food before they eat it. Colorblind kids have a great nose for the food they are eating because they identify the food by smell as opposed to a distinguishing color. Another sign is that they often suffer in school. By identifying warning signs before first grade, parents can work with educators on helping kids overcome the difficulty of experiencing color deficiencies.
Having discovered the reason why humans see red-green colors, I want to share some signs on identifying colorblindness and offer some tips on how to correct this issue before they have any lasting developmental effects.
- Does your child exhibit a low attention span when offered the chance to color? Most kids love to color and giving kids a coloring book should create at least a few minutes or even an hour of busy time. If a parent notices disinterest and a low attention span to coloring, this can signal a problem with your child being able to recognize color. One tip to see if the interest in coloring can increase, label color crayons or pencils with the name of the color and a number. Put the corresponding number on the picture and evaluate if your child becomes more engaged in the act of coloring.
- Does your child have difficulties connecting with other people or reacting to emotion such as blushing or anger in other people’s expressions? Colorblindness actually handicaps children from seeing the blushes or exhaustion and other skin colors that happen for different emotional states, and that, in turn, can limit their ability to sense what others are feeling. This lack of reaction can often be a sign that a child needs testing.
- Does colorblindness run in your family? Colorblindness is hereditary, thought to be found in eight percent of males and one percent of females, so if an adult family member is colorblind, the offspring should be tested, and at an early age. This is not just a vision test. Test specifically for colorblindness. There are several tests that identify color deficiencies, and some can even be found on the internet such as these tests that are meant to be easy and created for younger children, and can also be performed at a pediatrician’s office.
- Is your child exhibiting anxiety about school? A colorblind child can have anxiety about school and experience indifference or boredom when it comes to learning. When so many lessons are taught using color grouping and color coding, how can you blame them? To alleviate any anxiety, purchase color correction glasses to be worn while doing homework and ask the teacher to have a pair on hand too to use when color-based educational lessons are being taught. Have the teacher explain how they help students see color as to not alienate anyone in the class. There are also some apps that help correct colorblindness that can be accessed from the classroom.
Colorblindness will come with some developmental difficulties, but if caught early, and with the use of technology and extra effort from parents and educators to help a child along it won’t impede too much on a child’s lifestyle.
Dr. Mark Changizi, Mark Changizi is a theoretical neurobiologist, science writer, author and creator of VINO.vi.