STATE OF HEALTH OF THE VISUALLY IMPAIRED PRESCHOOLERS
The state of health of 113 visually impaired preschoolers (6 years old) and 96 their sighted contemporaries was investigated using the school documentation, containing data gathered from a child health register card. The research was performed taking into account the variables of sex (male and female) and place of residence (urban and rural families).
The study indicated that general state of health of the visually impaired children was much more worse than the sighted. However no highly significant correlation between state of health and sex as well as place of residence was found as regards the sample (experimental-visually impaired or control-sighted children).
A comprehensive, harmonious development of a child at preschool age is a matter of utmost importance. Many Polish authors claim that the retardation or disharmony of the preschooler’s growth may impede their education and cause teaching problems.
It is proved that the poor health or weak physical immunity may lead not only to frequent child’s absence at kindergarten or school but also to unsatisfying teaching results. The state of health might also cause premature failure at school.
The intense interest in child’s development at preschool age derives from the fact, that this issue is very important both for teaching theory and practice. It acquires additional importance in relation to the visually impaired children. Hitherto the Polish scientific researches on that subject have shown, that the general health of state of these children is worse than the sighted ones.
The research, presented in this article, deals with the state of health of the visually impaired children and their sighted contemporaries being 6 years old.
The aim of research is to answer the following questions:
1. What is the state of health of the visually impaired children at the age of 6?
2. Is there any correlation between the health state of the visually handicapped children at 6 , their sex and the type of home environment, in which they have been brought up (rural family, urban family)?
In order to assess state of health, the school documentation analysis, including data collected from a child health register card, was performed. 113 visually impaired pupils aged 6 (53 girls and 60 boys) were assessed. They attended a special boarding school in Lublin( at Special Centre for The Visually Impaired Children). The children came from urban families (N = 67; 32 girls and 35 boys) and rural families (N = 46; 21 girls and 25 boys).
Due to incomplete documentation, the analysis was conducted in the sample of 96 persons (48 girls and 48 boys). Both isolated groups consisted of 30 persons brought up in urban families and 18 persons in rural families.
The control sample of 96 sighted children (48 girls and 48 boys) was also researched, regarding „a place of residence”. These pupils attended Primary School nr. 31 in LUBLIN and Primary Schools in villages such as: NIEMCE, MARKUSZÓW.
The data analysis in relation to sex and home environment, did not revealed any significant differences among the visually impaired children, considering place of residence. However, there was noticed, that children from urban families (especially girls) had more often posture defects. In the group of the boys from rural families speech disorders occurred more frequently than in the group of the boys from urban families.
On the other hand among the boys who were brought up in rural families malfunctions in dynamics and harmony of somatic development were found. The urban girls had more frequently posture defects and suffered more often from blood system diseases.
The study of the medical data - „dispensary groups documentation” proves the following disorders to be the most common:
· malfunctions in somatic and psychic development (30,21 %)
· speech disorders and chronic illnesses of nasal-pharyngeal cavity and ears (17,71 %)
· posture defects and motor organ impairments (16,67 %)
Taking into account the category of the sighted children, the majority of them was numbered among these dispensary groups which represent speech defects and illnesses of nasal-pharyngeal as well as posture defects and motor organ impairments. A few belonged to dispensary group VII (respiratory system disorders) and group XI (other chronic illnesses).
Data analysis in terms of sex and home environment showed the slightest differences between visually handicapped and sighted children in the group brought up in urban families. The most significant correlations were observed among the boys from rural families.
Within the population of boys living in the country the proportion of the visually impaired boys who did not belong to any dispensary group(38,89%) was almost two times as lower as the proportion of the sighted boys(77,77%). It indicated, that among the visually impaired boys having rural background, health problems developed twice as often as among the sighted.
A half of the rural partially sighted boys was qualified for one dispensary group. Among the rural sighted boys proportion of those who belonged to only one dispensary group was almost three times lower(16,67%). The significant differences were also found in urban families. However they applied to girls. The girls with amblyopia had poorer health than the sighted. 30% of the partially sighted girls belonged to two dispensary groups while there was no sighted girls who were qualified for three or two dispensary groups. Moreover proportion of the non-qualified girls was much more higher among the sighted(70,00%) than the partially sighted(40,00%).
From the comparative data study considering home environment it might be concluded that both in urban and rural categories, the visually impaired persons more often disclosed malfunctions in dynamics and harmony of somatic development (dispensary group IV) as well as suffered from chronic illnesses.
The worse state of health of the visually impaired children resulted in high proportion of pupils (17,71%) being within two dispensary groups. Among the sighted children this proportion was only 6,25%.
The healthy children who were not qualified for any dispensary group constituted 44,78% within the category of the partially sighted and 64,58% within the category of the sighted.
The data analysis enabled to form the following conclusions:
1. The state of health of the visually impaired children was much more worse than the sighted.
2. Among the visually impaired children the following health problems appeared most frequently: malfunctions in somatic and psychic development, speech disorders, chronic illnesses of nasal-pharyngeal cavity and posture defects.
3. There were no significant differences in state of health, regarding the place of residence among the visually impaired children. However it could be noticed, that the children residing in towns, especially girls, had more frequently posture defects. The rural boys more often than urban boys manifested speech problems. Furthermore among the rural boys disruption of dynamics and harmony of somatic development were common.
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