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Emily was playing with coloured blocks, alongside her five year old son, Jeremy. She was trying to get her son to identify the different colour blocks. Jeremy however, seemed to have much difficulty naming the different colours.

She was by this point, getting a little worried. Corrine, her eldest daughter, had been able to identify and name a few colours by the time she was three.

That night when her husband came home, she brought up her worries to Daniel.

“Darling, you know Jeremy is two years behind Corrine in identifying colours. I’ve been trying to teach him through various means. Colour blocks, puzzles, Skittles, M&Ms, colour books, you name it, I’ve tried it! But he doesn’t seem to be getting it at all! Do you think he might be colour blind?”

Daniel pondered over what Emily said then replied, “Hmm… Maybe little Jeremy is just slow in learning the names of the colours. It’s rather hard to tell if it is because he can’t see the colours or if he simply can’t name them.”

“You may be right, but is there anyway to find out you think?” Emily was still worried.

“Let’s invite John and his wife home for dinner tomorrow, his wife is a paediatrician. She might know a thing or two. ” Daniel suggested.

Colour curious?

The next day, Daniel came home with John and his wife, Kelly. Dinner had barely started when Emily brought up Jeremy’s situation.

Kelly started to explain patiently, “Most children start recognising colours by about two and a half years of age and most children should be able to name at least one colour by the age of three or so. By about four years and nine months, 90 percent of children should be able to know four colours. ”

“Oh dear! My Jeremy is already five years old and he can hardly identify or differentiate any colour at all. Is that normal? Is he really colour blind then?” Emily asked.

Kelly replied, “At five years old, it does seem like his colour learning is slightly behind time. But that does not mean that he is colour blind. He could just be a case of isolated delay.” She added, “There are cases where children just do not show interest in learning about colours till they go to school. It can also be a delay in the development of learning of the words and also association of words with colours. ”

“Can Jeremy count normally or read some other simple words? Those signs should give hints on whether he can’t tell colours or just have difficulty in learning. ”John interjected.

“You mean if his other aspects of learning are normal, then he might really have a deficiency in seeing colours?” Daniel asked.

Kelly then clarified further.

Asymetrical development

Different children learn different things at different speeds, said Kelly. This depends on various factors like their interest and stage of development.

At a young age, it is usually very difficult to tell from behaviour or observations whether a child is colour blind or just slow at learning colours.

However, you can take note of the overall development of your child and check for signs.

For example if Jeremy can speak and understand words and the surroundings at the same level with other children his age, but is unable to tell colours as well as the other children, then there is a high chance that he might be having some deficiency in that area.

Emily did not want to give up. “Are you able to give me any confirmation then?” she pleaded.

“Well, this is not my specialty,” Kelly explained. “You ought to make an appointment with an optician or ophthalmologist to run some proper tests. There is no way we can find out for sure if Jeremy is colour blind by guessing and observing. ”

John suggested, “I’ve heard there are online tests which you can use to do a rough test on colour blindness. Why don’t you sit with Jeremy at the computer and do some of the online tests before you decide whether you want to take Jeremy for a clinical check up?”

Kelly explained, “They consist mostly of demonstration boards with various coloured dots in different shades. Some of these boards have impressions of numbers or simple shapes like a ball, boat or even simple circles or triangles that are easy for children to recognise.”

“Hmm… these look like the Ishihara colour test that we do during school check up, only simpler, ” Emily thought to herself.

Not long after after guiding her five year old son through online tests, Emily decided to take Jeremy for a check up, and Jeremy was eventually diagnosed with red and green colour blindness. LWB

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