How to Explain Color Blindness to Your Little Boy

Often you won’t recognize if your little boy is colorblind or not until he goes to school or even later.

Sometimes—you might have color vision deficiency in your family or your child just can’t see certain things which stick out to you—you realize that he is colorblind in his early childhood.

We are pretty sure our two-year-old is red-green colorblind. My questions are:

  • How/when do I tell him, and what do I say?
  • What can we do to help him?
  • Can you recommend any books?

First of all I would like to mention that a two-year-old still has to learn all the colors and the correct naming. But it might also be true, that he can distinguish a whole set of colors and match them correctly except some of them. If this happens, what can and should you do?

When do you tell him? Definitely not today and not tomorrow. There is still enough time to learn more about color blindness and to learn together with him, how he can handle the colors. As he won’t really understand the concept you should wait until either, he realizes himself about his handicap and starts asking you about it. Or when he enters kindergarten/school, because colors are often used to symbolize and differentiate certain things.

How do you tell him? There are many different ways to go. You might like to find a friend of him which is also colorblind (every 12th boy is colorblind) as a support. Or point out strength and weaknesses of every family member. Everybody has a little handicap to carry around. As more as you know about color blindness before talking with him, the better you can answer his questions.

What do you say? Maybe you could start looking at a bush with red flowers from a distance he can’t see them. When walking closer, suddenly he will see them. And really close, he will also see the difference in color. Starting from there, you could tell him, that you could see those flowers already from the distance. You also have to tell him, that he relies more on brightness than on hues to distinguish colors—which makes him also a better brightness-differentiater.

What can you do to help him? Use patterns combined with colors to mark things, label his crayons, use well distinguishable colors for his cloths, watch out for color coded subway or bus maps and explain them to him. You can also help him, when you talk with his first teachers as they might not be aware of color blindness. Try to help them to understand his problems and what they can do to help him. And most important, don’t push it to far. He also has to and will learn how to handle it by himself.

Can you recommend any books? There are Arlene Evans Books About Color Blindness which should really help you and your son to understand color vision deficiency in more details.

If you also have some questions about color vision deficiency, don’t hesitate to ask me. Or you might like to subscribe to the RSS feed of Colblindor to get the latest news on any aspects of color blindness.