Happy parents raise happy kids

Is My Kid Color Blind?

Q: My daughter can't learn the colors. Is she color blind and what do I do if she is?

There is a big difference between challenges in learning the colors and being color blind. Most people believe someone who is color blind can only see in black and white, but monochromatic vision is extremely rare and is mostly caused by some disease or trauma. 99% of the time, color blindness is the inability to distinguish shades of green-and-red or blue-and-yellow.

Research has found that color blindness is mostly an inherited (genetic) disability and people are born with it. 5% to 8% of men and only 0.5% of women are born color blind.

Some research has found that color blindness can be caused by nerve damage or exposure to chemicals, which means there is a chance of becoming color blind after birth.

For more information, visit this article.

Girl painting

Color blindness can only mildly affect the learning process, especially when the learning depends on color coding. For color blind kids, it will be a challenge to pick the right color sock or interpret a traffic light by the color only (this is why most traffic lights show the red person standing and the green person walking).

When instructions are given with colors, as in "Draw a line to the red ball" or "Color the flags green", color blind kids may not perform well. Say you give your child a sheet of paper with big A's, B's and C's drawn on it and you ask him or her to color every A in red, every B in yellow and every C in blue. Your child may be incorrect in one of 3 cases:

  1. Your child does not recognize the letters A, B and/or C
  2. Your child does not recognize the colors red, yellow and/or blue
  3. Your child is color blind and gets the colors mixed up

What parents can do

  • If you suspect your kid suffers from color blindness, ask them to use a pencil or a black marker. This will focus the activity solely on the recognition of the letters. If the answers are now correct, there is some color-related problem.
  • Use the tips in my post How to Teach Kids Colors to teach your child the colors. A child with healthy vision will gradually pick up the colors until they are all mastered. If your child is color blind, they will consistently confuse certain colors, no matter what you do.
  • Explain to your kid what is happening and say that you understand that some colors look the same to him or her.
  • Make sure all people working with your child know he or she cannot tell the difference between some colors, but do not make a big deal out of it.
  • Write the name of the color with a sticker on crayons, markers and colored pencils to help your kid distinguish between them when drawing a colored line, coloring in or marking maps.
  • Ask your kid's teachers to use a black board and white chalk if possible. Colorful chalk on a green board may be difficult for your child.
  • Ask your kid's teachers to prepare handouts in black text on white paper.
  • Ask the teachers to avoid using color coding in exercises, test sheets and marking.
  • Some standard tests are color coded, so ask your child's teacher to help your child with it.

Colorful paint jarsGenerally, color blindness should not affect kids' learning. My son is 13 years old now and he cannot tell the difference between blue and purple. We discovered this when he was 2½ years old, because he knew all the other colors. For 13 years, his color blindness did not interfere with his learning at all. In fact, he is so brilliant I do not think any of his teachers know he is color blind.

My dad is also color blind (now you know where my son got it) and worked at one stage in his life an electrician. God knows how he managed so distinguish between the colors of the wires (he says that when he sees different colors together, it is easier to tell them apart). He is also a crafty person and has done huge needle work tapestries and silk scarves for years.

The main reason to find out if your kids are color blind is to reassure them they are OK and to strengthen their self esteem.

Colorful parenting,
Ronit

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  • Marty Picco

    Hi,
    I would like to suggest that parents get their kids tested as soon as possible. Being color blind myself, I had a hard time in elementary school where I consistently flubbed various exercises that depended on properly using color.

    There are a number of basic tests online. One great resource that I have found is http://www.colorblindor.com, which is maintained by a color blind guy in Germany who has amassed a great deal of useful information.

    There is also a quick online test that you can find at:

    Of course, if you really suspect that there's an issue you should see a doctor.

    Regards,

    Marty

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  • http://kolorowanki.joe.pl Kolorowanki

    Great post.

    I only draw but will pass your post address to my wife, cos we have got a child who is color blind.
    Cheers for sharing the tips and keep up good posts!
    Regards,
    Matt Kolorowanki,
    Illustrator

  • http://www.behappyinlife.com Ronit Baras

    Matt,

    Interesting. So you have any color blindness in the family?

    I always say it is something easy to take care of and it is good to know if you have in the family because it is usually a sign that you need to pay attention to it.

    As Marty expressed, it is not fun at all to have bad time just because people do not check or understand it.

    How old is your child Matt?

    Happy day
    Ronit
    Family Matters

  • http://kolorowanki.joe.pl/ Kolorowanki

    @ Ronit, my kid is 11 now.
    Yes, you can't do much, but it's always good to know, what's happening, and try to ensure that's OK...

    regards,
    Matt

  • http://www.behappyinlife.com Ronit Baras

    Matt,

    How did you discover that your kid is color blind?
    I think parents would like to know about other parents' experiences.

    Ronit
    Family Matters

  • http://www.gratiskonto.net/ arijit

    If you suspect your kid suffers from color blindness then this blog will help you to learn your child.
    Thank you for your sharing.

  • http://www.behappyinlife.com Ronit Baras

    Marty,

    I thought I said thank you for sharing and sending us valuable information about being color blind but I cannot find my reply comment here.

    Sorry.

    Thanks for the info, it is awesome.

    Happy day
    Ronit

  • http://www.behappyinlife.com Ronit Baras

    arijit,

    Thanks for sharing

    Ronit

  • Sally

    Thankyou for a wonderful article. I have grown up around colourblindness my whole life (4 uncles, and a brother) so i was not suprised when it was confirmed at the age of 4 yrs that our eldest son was also colour blind . As a mother I found that i just had to be a little bit more organised and creative... like teaching him the names (words/spelling)of colours,then writing names of colours on pencils,the way you describe things( using other descriptions instead of just colour.ie the bigger bird or the bag next to ... ) buying clothing in sets so he knew what would go together,or now as a 10yr old he gets around it by prefering to wear denim shorts and jeans and putting on any shirt. The only major problem we have had is one teacher... who believed he was lazy and all her examples were things like ... colour the roof red, draw a blue circle around matching items and he would use a purple pencil etc. all other teachers have been wonderful.
    It willl be interesting to see in later years how it will affect his career choice... in the meantime the whole process is about to start with our middle son (yep have 3 boys)now 3yrs it looks like he might follow the same trait as his great uncles, uncle, and big brother....
    Have Fun Sal

  • James Curtis

    I am partially color blind and had no issues telling colors apart. It was more of telling colors apart from far distances.

  • http://www.ronitbaras.com/index.php/about/ Ronit Baras

    HI Sal,

    I think readers can learn from you a lot about creativity.
    Yes, it runs in families and it is always good to keep an eye.
    It is such a shame that some teachers can't understand it.
    don't remind him of this teacher, he'll forget she wasn't very accommodating.
    My dad only mixed two colours and he said that when he had them next to each other it was easier for him to find the difference.
    My son never had an issue with this. We treated it as a natural thing, can't change, much like being left handed so we never talk about it.
    I think the older they get, the dependency on colour decreases ( prep, 1 and even up to grade 3 or 4 teachers use colours a lot but after that they don't use it that much so I am sure he'll be fine as he grows older.

    Thanks for sharing Sal
    Happy day
    Ronit

  • http://www.ronitbaras.com/index.php/about/ Ronit Baras

    James,

    I didn't even know there is such a thing as partially colour blindness.
    Does it affect you in any way?

    Ronit

  • T.J.

    I want to let you know that I have compiled a list of helpful tips for people who are colorblind, their parents, and their teachers. You can find this information at . I am colorblind and my father, Dr. Terrace Waggoner, is an optometrist and color vision expert. With that said, I feel these tips can be very beneficial. Plus, there is a bevy of information pertaining to color vision on the site. I hope you find this helpful.

  • http://www.ronitbaras.com/index.php/about/ Ronit Baras

    Hi T.J,

    I love your list.
    I think parents and teachers can learn from it.
    I would add some photos to help.

    Ronit
    http://www.ronitaras.com

  • Sallyldevereux

    i took my 9 year old son to have an eye test recently, his sight is fine, but they have said he has a servere colour vision defect where his colours mix into the same colour? please can you give me more information about this, he struggles alot at school and i wonder if this has anything to do with it?

  • http://www.ronitbaras.com/ ronitbaras

    Hi Sally,

    It is wonderful that you have discovered your son is color blind. It can be a big obstacle in schooling but only if you don't know that this is the issue. Other than that, it should not be an obstacle in life. ( see my article above about my son and my dad).
    There are some tips in the article to manage that and we have wonderful readers with links to sites that can help you lots.
    see TJ's comment with the link and Marty's suggestions.

    The early years of schooling can be a big obstacle for color blind kids mainly because most of the learning is based on colors ( assuming kids can identify colors before they can read- which is true but not 100% correct) - the real problem is that they can't distinguish between some colors ( depending on their color blindness type) and the adults around them think they don't understand or they just don't know the answer. This creates a big problem for the kids, because they know the answer and adults keep telling them it is wrong.
    If you know that this is the issue, you just avoid them having to distinguish between the two colors and make sure their worksheets are not in colors that will create a problem for them.
    I would suggest:
    Find out the kind of color blindness.

    Explain to your kid what it means ( it is not a problem, really)

    Find the family member that is color blind ( it runs in families) and give this person as an example. ( hopefully a good example, I was lucky, I gave my dad as an example and he is an electrician + art and craft man working with paint)

    Tell his teachers he is color blind and ask them to avoid giving him tasks that are confusing for him.

    Give him 3 month , if you don't see any improvement, take him to see a behavioral optometrist - I love them, they are magicians. They can help your son if there is any reading problem.

    I hope this is helpful for you.
    keep us updated with your son's progress

    all the best
    Ronit

  • Manaskantabaruah

    my son is 2yr9months old.he has started his school lately and now he is learning the colours -red,green n yellow.but i feel he is finding it difficult to recognise the colors.how do i know whether he is colour blind or is it his learning difficulty?plz help

  • colorblind son

    "Generally, color blindness should not affect kids' learning. My son is 13 years old now and he cannot tell the difference between blue and purple."
    Color blindness has a HUGE impact on a child's learning.  I know this was written years ago and that your son may not have been in schools with SmartBoards, computers, Tests with color print, Color-coded organization in class, textbooks with color print, but this is a really dangerous opinion. Your son cannot tell the difference between blue and purple, because he is red-green colorblind.  I am sure he confuses orange, browns, reds, and greens also. Did you ever get him tested?  Imagine the stress he must have endured because of a lack of awareness. 
    Please, take this post down.  There are many variations in color deficiency....you are minimalizing the difficulties some may have.
    "We discovered this when he was 2½ years old, because he knew all the other colors. For 13 years, his color blindness did not interfere with his learning at all. In fact, he is so brilliant I do not think any of his teachers know he is color blind."  Or that the teachers were never taught about color blindness.....I bet it DID interfere.  He just never felt comfortable coming to you...It is insulting that you say one is so brilliant....it implies that those who have to tell their instructors are "dumb"..  Please take this down and go to
    http://www.colourblindawareness.org

  • http://www.ronitbaras.com/ ronitbaras

    This is too early to find a learning difficulty. 
    Many times the kids cannot tell their colors due to "teaching difficulty". 
    Teach him the colors at home, one color a week and add the second one a week after. If it is not working, wait another week and keep focusing on the first one.

    Ronit  

  • http://www.ronitbaras.com/ ronitbaras

    Sally, 

    If they say that he has a defect, my guess is that it will be a challenge for him to deal with things that requires coloring or with color codes. 
    You can read some of the comments here about color blind and you can google it. A simple eye test can tell you that and you need to notify his teachers. 

  • http://www.ronitbaras.com/ ronitbaras

    James, 

    That's interesting. 
    I have never heard that. 

  • WP

    My 5yr old knows all his colors well, however he offten confusses red and yellow. After we point out that red is yellow or yellow is red he wont mix them up again the rest of the day or so, but the next time we ask him he will again mix up red and yellow. Is there a Red / Yellow colorblindness. I (dad) has an extreamly mild blue/green colorblindness after doing the 100 hue test. I cant seem to find anything for red/yellow

Ronit Baras

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