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Visual and behavioral profiles of socially 'at-risk' juveniles

1 May 2000


The aim of this investigation is to examine the prevalence of visual dysfunction, behavior problems, and co-existing conditions between the two in the socially "at-risk" juvenile population. A sample of 70 socially "at risk" juveniles was drawn from alternative classrooms in the public schools and a training facility for boys. A visual screening battery was administered on -site at each of the three facilities. The screening consisted of: acuity measurement, static retinoscopy, cover test, near point of convergence, stereo acuity, accommodative facility, mobility (DEM), visual-motor perception (Beery), and direct ophthalmoscopy. Behavior profiles were assessed by the classroom teacher utilizing the Child Behavior Check List (Achenbach). "Failure" was designated as any "clinical" score. All 70 subjects failed some area of visual function ranging from 0% in ocular disease to 70% in visual-motor perception to 7 1 % in refractive problems. All. subjects displayed some sort of clinically significant behavior problem ranging from 4% in somatic complaints to 27% who measured anxious/depressed. Co-existing conditions with 'fail" scores that were 20% congruent for boys were: refractive status: withdrawn/depressed; visual motor perception: anxious/depressed. Co-existing conditions with 'fail' scores that were 20% congruent for girls were: refractive status: delinquent behavior; accommodative facility: thought problems, attention problems, delinquent behavior; Visual motor perception: delinquent behavior. It was found that juveniles from alternative classrooms exhibit a high prevalence of visual dysfunction along with certain behavior problems. This study suggests that certain visual dysfunction might be viewed as relative risk factors in these behavior problems. No conclusion can be drawn as to cause and effect. However, one is tempted to speculate that juveniles with visual dysfunction will do less well meeting academic demands and hence become prime targets for alternative education.


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