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I've heard, read and attempted all the most common and obvious solutions to getting your young child to wear their glasses. All of which resulted in failure. My son is 3 and it's his first pair of glasses. They are corrective lens glasses prescribed to him. His left eye turns in and doesn't "see" as well as his right eye. His doctor says that if it is not corrected soon he will go blind in that eye.

No pressure, right? But wait, there's more.... My son also doesn't talk. He says words here and there but does not make full sentences. Nor does he fully understand "learning lessons." He understands yes and no but doesn't comprehend what my husband and I are saying when we sit down with him and explain why it is important to wear his glasses. But that is a whole other struggle we're currently facing. Long story short, our son shows signs of developmental delay, meaning he may be autistic.

So how do I get my 3 year old son, who doesn't speak and may be autistic, to wear his glasses so he doesn't go blind in one eye?

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    What suggestions did the doctor make? I'm really curious. The doctor deals with this on an ongoing basis; surely they have some advice on how to handle cases of reluctant wearers? Also, has an eye patch been tried? – anongoodnurse Nov 17 at 15:26
  • Is the problem that he takes them off after you have put them on? Or are you just looking for a way to form good habits? – Francine DeGrood Taylor Nov 18 at 16:52
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I don’t have personal experience with getting kids to wear eyeglasses, and I’m not familiar with the “most common methods” of getting them to wear glasses, but I recently had some trouble getting my 7 year old (“normal” development) to wear orthotics in his shoes, so I will share what worked for us. My son is an “idiopathic” toe walker, and prior to starting therapy for the physiological reasons/consequences of walking on his toes for 4 years, he had to “break the habit” by wearing carbon inserts in his shoes.

My son was not...enthusiastic about it, since they are tricky to walk in, even for people who walk normally because the foot cannot flex. And then, it was painful because muscles were tight/overstretched or weak/underdeveloped. And finally, the flat-footed gait made him slow and clumsy, and he fell a lot. He had some legitimate reasons for noncompliance.

The solution was to limit wearing the inserts to a few hours a day at first, and to DOUBLE KNOT his “special” shoes so he couldn’t take them off unless his time was up. (We bought a brand new pair of lace up shoes that he picked out and that could accommodate the insert to try and make them more desirable.) His reward was a nice leg massage and...some iPad time. He eventually worked up to wearing them all day, every day, and he only required a massage to ease some tired legs at night (we didn’t have to keep giving him the iPad once it was a habit to walk flat footed in his “special shoes”). As an added bonus he learned to tie his shoes finally. It took a month, btw, to gain the discipline and endurance for whole days with the inserts.

I think that despite the language comprehension issues, you could try the same approach: prevent him from taking the glasses off with those sport straps (the ones that go around the head to securely attach them to the face), trying to make the glasses “cool” or personalized in some way, and limiting the amount of time wearing them to ease the initial discomfort, coupled with a reward at the end of “glasses time.” The goal of course is to work up to all day. I think that as long as you are making reasonable progress, you can rest assured you are preventing blindness from setting in.

When I started wearing glasses they gave me headaches, and it irritated my ears and nose. I have sensory issues (even as an adult!) so I can sympathize with his discomfort which is compounded by the frustration of not being able to communicate it. How does he “tell” you that he doesn’t like a certain food or that a shirt is uncomfortable? Pay attention to cues so he feels “heard” and the glasses don’t become associated with discomfort and being ignored. Are you sure they fit him properly and are comfortable? It’s worth exploring...

These are just my thoughts and experiences, without knowing what you’ve already tried and what hasn’t worked, specifically. If my answer is of no use to you, at the very least, please accept my sincere hope that you DO find the solution either here or on your own through trial and error.

  • I forgot to specify that we used a “visual” timer like this which, if you don’t already have one, I highly recommend. – Jax Nov 19 at 2:04
  • My husband and I did a very similar technique with our 18 month old's special shoes too (cant take them off/limited time per day and build it up/appropriate rewards afterwards) and it was quite successful. She is also pretty much not talking properly yet so anecdotally it can work for younger less-verbal kids too. I'll also add that it was the same time each day - we made a routine of it - and she just got accustomed to 'shoes time' (although she doesn't need to wear them all day). – Stacey Nov 19 at 15:41
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I remember every instruction given to me by my optician as a child.

I still can't even wipe my glasses with tissues as I was told very sternly not to at about 8.

My optician said "put these on when you get up and they are the last thing you take off at night" when I got my first pair at 3 years old, and I still do.

So take him back to the opticians for a talk.

  • I would guess speech comprehension is a prerequisite here, though, which doesn't seem to be met in this instance. – David Hedlund Nov 18 at 19:25
  • I remember being very sternly instructed not to climb on the roof of my uncle’s shed, and doing it anyway. Often. I think I was pretty normal in this regard. Your optician must have been terrifying, or, a wizard. Can I book an appt with him/her/them for my kids to be instructed to eat vegetables? – Jax Nov 19 at 2:09
  • @Jax I think it was possibly my mothers deference to medical people. You know doctors are god – WendyG Nov 19 at 11:01

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