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

Lynne McKerr, Emma L. McConnell, Shelley A. Black, Julie McClelland, Julie A. Little , Kathryn J. Saunders, Karola Dillenburger*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
79 Downloads (Pure)


1.1 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.

1.2 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.

1.3 Findings
Subsequent to the implementation of bespoke visual adjustments, for example prescription of spectacles or changed seating in classroom, significant and sustained changes were observed with regard to the children's behaviour (i.e., increased engagement with peers and/or teachers and decreased off-task behaviour). Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire 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.

1.4 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)45-58
JournalBritish Journal of Learning Disabilities
Issue number1
Early online date19 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • Pediatrics
  • Phychiatric Mental Health


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