The earlier a diagnosis of colorblindness comes, the easier life in general is going to be for your little one. One of my friends wasn’t diagnosed until he was a teenager. I hate to think of the educational and daily obstacles he had to face with that undetected disability!
If you suspect your child is struggling with color identification issues, you will want to confirm the diagnosis with an eye care professional. However, before running to the doctor there are some unmistakable clues you can watch for. Males with a history of colorblindness on the maternal side of the family are at highest risk. Here are some other indicators:
1. He has a hard time seeing outdoor animals in the grass or trees if the animal is not moving. Someone who is red-green colorblind sees most reds and greens as shades of brown. If the brown bunny in your green yard is not moving, your son will probably not be able to see it. My colorblind sons conspired together to pretend they could see an animal through the window when someone pointed it out just to keep the peace.
2. He dislikes coloring and will most often choose another activity. The indicator here is when he confuses skin tones and hair colors with greens in grasses and trees. He may prefer to draw with a standard pencil rather than crayons, and do an above-average job with monochrome shading and details. If he is old enough to read, he will check the printed color name on crayons or colored pencils before choosing one.
3. He has difficulty with puzzles, electronic games, flashcards, maps, or anything where the colors are all the same tone, either subdued or bright. He will have a definite dislike of Candy Crush, Flo, or any brain game which relies on colors for sorting. You have to watch carefully for this, as colorblind children quickly learn coping skills in order to fit in when others are seeing something they can’t.
4. He regularly confuses blue and purple. Purple is a combination of red and blue, so when you can’t see the red in the mix, all you see is blue. My colorblind cousin still carries a chip on his shoulder about his mom letting him choose purple sheets for his college dorm (“Barney purple”). His mom defends the decision, saying she liked the sheets and thought they were cool and edgy. He spent most of his dorm years thinking his sheets were a deep blue.
5. The best clue that your child is colorblind? Someone who is colorblind tells you they think your child is as well. No one knows what they see like they do. And if it runs in your family, your colorblind relatives are probably watching for it.
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