Vision and Hearing Screenings Help Children Escape Negative Labels

Help Children Escape Labels


ADHD or ear infection? Hearing screening reveals surprising answer.

The mom of a 5-year-old son in a West End preschool unknowingly labeled her son’s misbehavior and inability to concentrate at school as ADHD. However MEDARVA’s screenings at her son’s school revealed that the young boy wasn’t hearing clearly because of an undetected ear infection.

“I’m an educated professional working for a Fortune 500 company in Richmond but when it came to my child’s health, I made assumptions that got in the way of being open to what was really going on,” the mom said of her son’s experience.

“We thought it was strange that he was suddenly having trouble in school and misbehaving but had no idea his ears would have been the cause.”

The child received a referral (failed screening) and a note was sent to both the school and his parents encouraging a visit to an ENT. What the physician found was a significant amount of fluid in the child’s ear along with redness and irritation. The boy returned to the ENT for a follow–up appointment to see if the infection had cleared after finishing the antibiotic. Unfortunately it had not. Another round of antibiotics did not clear the issue either. A surgery was scheduled and his adenoids were removed and tubes were placed in his ears.

Screening Child“Sometimes it is easy for parents to misdiagnose what is actually going on with their child,” said Dr. Matthew Bridges of Commonwealth ENT.

“Whenever there is significant change in your child’s behavior it is good practice to go see your pediatrician or even an ENT to determine if there is an underlying problem.”

“It has long been known that a good education is key to breaking the cycle of poverty. In order for a child to learn, their vision and hearing is critical. MEDARVA’s program is designed to catch problems at an early age and help to find remedies. Our program is about providing better access to healthcare and making it easier to obtain care,” said Bruce Kupper, President and CEO of MEDARVA Healthcare. “We are making that access more accessible and in some cases we are able to direct families to resources that can close the loop and provide glasses if needed. But vision and hearing issues are not limited to the economically disadvantaged, we are finding vision and hearing issues across all socio-economic levels.”

Bright child’s performance improves when vision problem is diagnosed and treated.

Screening ChildWhen we see tears in the eyes of a parent followed by the words “thank you,” we know that the MEDARVA Vision and Hearing Screening Program is changing lives.
Mr. Davis has both smiles and tears when he sees his 6-year-old daughter Laisha wearing her first pair of glasses. Her whole appearance changed in a way that touches his heart and brings hope for a future that he didn’t have.

“Because I never had access to healthcare that could provide vision services, I went most of my life without glasses and
I believe it really influenced my ability to succeed,” he said.

“That’s why this small thing means so much to me. My daughter is so smart. Seeing her with those glasses gives me confidence that her vision won’t inhibit her ability to succeed.”
Unfortunately, Mr. Davis’ experience of not being able to receive appropriate care is part of the vicious cycle of poverty. According to a report from The American Prospect, without access to high-quality healthcare, education, and other resources, children born into poverty are likely to remain in poverty their entire lives despite the promise of the American Dream. Any and every opportunity for them to gain a competitive edge for success is critical.

The MEDARVA Vision & Hearing Screening Program came to Laisha’s school last spring and that’s when a simple vision screening revealed she was farsighted and had trouble seeing things like words in a book or her own writing.

“It’s like we always say, ‘kids don’t know what they don’t know,” said Emily Belt, screening coordinator for MEDARVA’s program. “In this case we were able to use a simple tool that revealed Laisha had a vision problem. We referred her to an ophthalmologist and she now has 20/20 vision.”

A mom gives thanks

Screening Child“I wanted to write to follow-up with you about my son, Eli. First of all I want to thank Beverly at MEDARVA for informing me that my son, Eli, needed to see a specialist. Unfortunately he had no medical insurance and I was in the middle of a waiting process to try to get it back. Beverly was extremely helpful and immediately offered assistance – made some phone calls and called me back with an appointment for Eli to see Dr. Nina Cox at no charge to us the very next day. This was important as Eli was starting kindergarten the following week.
Following the doctor’s visit, there was help to get Eli glasses. It was such a blessing to have this program available to help Eli get his sight taken care of in a time when we were not in a good place. But it was a greater blessing to experience kindness and such excellent attention and promptness to get it all taken care of. We are grateful. Eli is absolutely loving his new glasses and the fact that he can see things clearer. His smile in the attached picture says it all. Thank you all so much.”

Blessings, Eli’s Mom
Eli was screened in May at a local school. Since he did not have insurance, the MEDARVA Vision & Hearing Screening Program was able to get an appointment for him with Dr. Cox. LensCrafters–OneSight was able to provide free glasses for Eli.