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Hearing and sight

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Hearing is tested very shortly after birth (three weeks) when you will be visited by someone with an impressive piece of electronics which they plug gently into your newborn's ears. This magically tests its hearing, and replaces a no doubt technically inferior but vastly more entertaining one around six months, when you hold your baby on your knee while a nurse behind you makes sounds and a nurse in front records your infant's reactions. Read more about this test (in Dutch) on the official site at .

After the newborn's test, there is no further routine testing until the schoolarts. Contact the clinic or your GP immediately if you have concerns about your child's hearing, in the first instance so as to get the problem logged in the system. Given the general wait-and-see approach it may take time to set things in motion, and hearing issues are notoriously hard to pin down.

See the page on Language and speech for more in this area.

Sight is tested when your child is 3 and then 3y9m. They use pictures for the younger children, and mighty strange pictures they are too; they're reproduced in your Growbook, so practise beforehand with your child and make sure he knows that the thing which looks like a church tower with a thundercloud over it is actually supposed to be a key. They should not mind in which language your child names the objects. From the age of nearly-four, the child is given a shape like a bold letter C, but with the opening pointing either left, right, up or down; he must indicate by pointing which way the opening is. Letters are not used until the schoolarts stage.

If there are any doubts, you will be asked back to the clinic for a follow-up check, just in case your child was simply playing up that day and is in fact fine. If he still can't make out enough, you will be referred to an oogarts - eye specialist. For under-twelves, it's standard for the specialist to carry out comprehensive checks on the general health of the eye. This can be at a private clinic or at one of the hospitals; from my own experience both are fine. As for any specialist , you need a referral letter from your GP, who may well recommend somebody in particular.

Further treatment may be at your local optician's, for simple cases of short or long sight where there are no complications, or via the hospital for more complex issues. They seem to be pretty keen here on eyepatches for lazy-eye.

  Preventative side



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