Color is everywhere in our lives. The enjoyment of color, and recognition of its varying hues, are abilities most of us take for granted. If your child is totally or partially colorblind, he or she will need some help in understanding and coping with the condition. Here are tips for helping your son or daughter be happy and successful, in spite of colorblindness!
If your child is colorblind, you probably have other family members who are also. In my personal family, my son is partially colorblind, as is his cousin and grandfather. It is my understanding that more males are colorblind because the gene of colorblindness can be passed on to them from only one relative. In contrast, females require genes from both parents to have the condition themselves. I do not know if this is scientifically correct or not, but do know there seem to be more colorblind boys than girls.
You are most likely to discover your child’s trouble with colors when he is a toddler or preschooler. If your child is intelligent and inquisitive, yet has difficulty distinguishing major colors, he may be colorblind. This is even more likely if there are other family members who are.
Try to determine as early as possible if he has trouble with all colors or only a few. Partial colorblindness is more prevalent. Trouble distinguishing reds, greens, and colors containing these shades is particularly common. Some partially colorblind children may also have the most trouble with blue and yellow colors. And some children may be unable to discern any colors at all.
Help your small children by determining which colors are troublesome to them. Teach them at an early age to distinguish whatever colors they can, and be supportive about the colors they can’t. You can explain to a young child that some people have difficulty seeing certain colors, but not others. Teach them about those they can see, through play activities such as coloring, games etc.
As your child reaches preschool, kindergarten, and grade school age, he may become sensitive about his color vision limitations. Particularly if other children tease him, as they become aware of it. An example of this in my own family occurred when my son started kindergarten. He came home very upset over his teacher’s correction, in front of the other children, about his shirt color being “green” instead of “brown”.
I helped my son feel better by explaining how the teacher and other kids might see green and brown colors different than him. Then I alerted the teacher to my son’s colorblindness, which helped avoid future troublesome or embarrassing incidents for him.
As your child gets older, he will probably accept and adjust to his limited color vision without much trouble. Playmates often become intrigued by the colorblindness of their young friends, and your child may become the center of attention for a while. If the curious quizzing by others (“what color this?) becomes stressful, you can suggest to your son or daughter to nicely explain to his friends that he is tired of playing the color naming game.
Another way you can help your colorblind child at this age is with the selection of clothing. He will probably begin asking you if particular shirt and pant colors look good together at a fairly early age, and may continue up through high school!
An important area to help your son or daughter is with safety issues. For instance, when my son was young and had trouble distinguishing “walk” lights from “wait” lights at pedestrian crossings, we taught him to determine whether it was safe to cross by the position of the lit light instead of the color. Similarly, as a teenager, he had to do the same with traffic lights as the green “go” lights looked white to him.
By knowing the range of your child’s color vision abilities you can be alert to ways to help him or her avoid difficulties. And ultimately help your colorblind child to not just survive – but thrive!