Back-to-School Health Checklist
Experts say how to keep your child on the right track to health this school year.
Can Your Child See Clearly? continued...
Gallin says she as a parent demands screening by an eye
specialist. "All parents should," she says. Yet, she explains, often
parents tell her, "My kid would tell me if he couldn't see." She says
often this is untrue. They don't know any differently and kids with one eye not
functioning will even try to fake out the doctor on the eye test, peeking
around the eye blocker. "We have all been faked out," Gallin sighs.
If one eye is not working properly, what can be done to treat
lazy eyes? "It's a real pain to fix," she admits. Children have to wear
a patch over the strong eye. "They hate it," she says. Some improvement
comes quickly but treatment takes time. The eye-patch system, however, makes
the brain tune up to process visual input better. "The child achieves
peripheral vision, too," she says.
Between 2% and 5% of the population is legally blind in one
eye, according to Gallin. "It's a national health issue, but no one is
At her schools in California, Mac Donald says, an optometrist
comes in to test the kids.
Some important information parents should tell the school about
their child includes:
- Above all, make sure your child's emergency telephone number card is
accurate and kept current. "You can't just drop the kid off at school and
drive away," Mac Donald says. If you move or change a number, correct it
the next day. At her schools, numbers are listed in order they are to be
called: mother, father, grandmother, or whatever the parents designate. The
child's physician and dentist also need to be listed. "I have had to take a
kid with a knocked-out tooth to the dentist and have the mother meet me
there," she says. "We needed all the phone numbers."
- The school nurse and/or school secretary also needs to know what
medications your child takes, Mac Donald says. Even if the child takes the
medication only at home, the nurse should know. If the child is to take the
drugs at school, she says, they must be in the pharmacy bottle, clearly marked
(not an envelope, for instance).
- Any health problems should be made known to the school. Allergies are a
good example. "There are so many [allergies] now to foods, plants, trees,
beestings, or latex. The school has to know in advance," Mac Donald
- Also inform the school of physical restrictions. Does the child have
asthma, a scoliosis brace, or a heart murmur? How should this affect physical