The Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO) and the Ontario Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (OSLA) are urging all Ontario educators to ensure that every child in Ontario starting school is healthy and ready to learn.
To reach their potential, all children require good vision and hearing that has been assessed by a regulated health professional at the optimal time.
As many as one in four children (25%) has a vision problem. Unfortunately, each year, thousands of children start school without ever having an eye exam. Children with amblyopia are a particular concern, as they need to be identified early and treatment started before vision loss becomes permanent.
Children who cannot see the board, focus on a picture or follow words in a book may struggle to achieve their full learning potential. Vision problems can also impact their hand-eye coordination for physical activities and even impact their social development.
The OAO recommends that children have a comprehensive eye examination by an optometrist at six to nine months of age, at three years of age, and then every 12 months or as recommended by the optometrist.
Three out of every thousand babies are born with hearing loss that may affect their speech, language, reading, writing, and social development. This can result in poor academic performance in children, behavioural issues in teenagers, and isolation, reduced independence, diminished cognitive function, and depression.
Early identification, accurate assessment and effective treatment of auditory disorders are essential to ensuring better outcomes for children.
The Ontario Infant Hearing Program funded by the Ontario government tests all children soon after birth, and will follow a child if identified as having a hearing impairment up to the age of six.
For more information, please see the documents below: