Meeting vision needs of children with special educational needs: Case studies of the impact on behaviour and academic achievement

Lynne McKerr, E.L. McConnell, S.A. Black, J. McClelland, J.A. Little, K.J. Saunders, Karola Dillenburger

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Abstract

Background: Children with identified special educational needs are at higher risk than other children of having visual needs that are not adequately met. This paper evaluates the impact of addressing the visual needs of these children on behaviour and academic achievements in a number of case studies.
Method: Nine children (4-11 years of age, from four classrooms), who attended a special school in a medium sized town in the UK, took part in the case studies reported here. The children were part of the Special Education Eyecare (SEE) Project. Six of the children were selected because they had unmet visual needs at baseline and required bespoke interventions to meet these needs; the other three children were selected because their visual needs had been met prior to the study and no further adjustments were needed. Repeated direct observations were conducted to assess the impact of the intervention on the children’s behaviour in the classroom. The observer was ‘blind’ with regard to the visual needs of the participants. Parents and teachers completed the Strength and Difficulties
Questionnaire (SDQ) for each child, before and after the intervention. School files were analysed to assess effects on academic achievement.
Findings: Subsequent to the implementation of bespoke visual adjustments, e.g., prescription of spectacles or changed seating in classroom, significant and sustained changes were observed with regards to the children’s behaviour (i.e., increased engagement with peers and/or teachers and decreased off-task behaviour). SDQ scores showed improvements regarding total difficulties,
emotional difficulties, hyperactivity and prosocial (kind and helpful) behaviour. Due to highly variable data in school files, the effects on academic achievement were inconclusive.
Discussion: The case studies reported here explored changes in behaviour of children with identified special educational needs after their visual needs were met. Findings show a positive overall effect on the behaviour of these children.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages23
JournalBritish Journal of Learning Disabilities
Early online date19 Jan 2020
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 19 Jan 2020

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