How Do You Know If a Child Is Color Blind?

Updated on February 12, 2007
A.M. asks from Warren, OH
11 answers

My 2 yr old son (29 mo), is learning his shapes and alphabet, can count to 10 without help, has a very good vocabulary and can do small sentances and seems to be in general a smart kid but he does not know his colors. We have the mega blocks an I will tell him to hand me the green block and he'll give a blue one, I tell him no that one is blue then i pick up a green one and tell him this is green. I'll ask for a red block and he gives me an orange one or a yellow one and I do the same thing, tell him no and the color of the block he gives me and then show him the right color. The same thing when we are reading books or doing any activity, we ask him do point to a color and it's not the right one, we tell & show him what color he pointed to them show & tell him the right color. We have been working with him for about six months now and he just is not seeming to get the colors. He has picked up on many other things and is still learning more. When should a child know his colors and when can they be tested for color blindness?

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answers from Columbus on

my son was doing this as well. It seemed to take him longer to learn his colors than his letters, for example. I too wondered about color blindness. however, now he seems to know all his colors very well! hang in there.

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answers from Toledo on

I have an in home daycare and I have two 2 year olds and BOTH of them do the same thing. We spent an entire week on colors and they still can't always get it correct but it's getting better, of which I'm sure it will with your son as well. The problem is not always color blindness but more typically it is learning and memorizing the lables to things that can be simular (orange and red ... blue and green ... red and pink)

I have a wonderful activity that preschools and daycares use to evaluate color blindness. Start with red, yellow, and blue first in order to keep it basic. Choose about 5 small items that go with each color (the blocks you have would work great, or anything else that is small enough for them to handle easily). Place all of them in a pile and show your son how to sort them by color. After you doing it and you helping him to do it the first couple of times he should be able to do it on his own. If he significantly misses some (puts them all in the wrong pile) and you are absolutely sure he understands sorting then there may be color blindness but if he can do this task for the most part then he is not color blind. It tooks the kids in my childcare about 4 or 5 times before they got the hang of it and sorted correctly which in turn told me they are not color blind. Obviously this will only be a good test if he understands sorting.
A good rule of thumb is to learn the lables for shapes (which is easier for kids to learn), learn to sort shapes (check to see if they can sort), learn to sort colors, and then learn to lable the color. This then could be extended to sort colors and shapes (red squares, red circles, blue squares, blue circles)
I hope that explanation makes since... it's hard to explain but believe it or not it can give you your answer. If you have any questions please feel free to ask. In the meantime don't worry too much because this is very typical.



answers from Canton on

hi,my son is color blind when it comes to red on green and green on red.i didn't find this out until he was in 1st grade.we kinda suspected it when he was in preschool,but he was still too young to know.anyways i wouldn't worry about it until he starts preschool or kindergarden.the dr.told me there really isn't anything they can do about it.that it is highly common in boys.hopefully, your son is just getting his colors alittle confused at his age.well good luck and hope i could be of some help.have a great day!! alittle about me: i'm a SAHM of 5 beautiful childen,i have been happily married for 10yrs,and always have an open ear for advice.



answers from Columbus on

I would say at 2 it's too young to determine if a child is color blind. It seems from reading your post that he is a very smart 2 year old and may have just learned so many new things that he needs time to process all of that before moving on to other things. If this is all that he doesn't know then I wouldn't be too worried about it right now.



answers from Columbus on

Hi A.!
My son is 7 and we found out he was color blind at his first eye appointment. That is really the only way to tell. My pediatrician recommended my boys start getting their eyes checked at 2 or 3. It really doesnt effect my son too much(only when he's getting dressed!). I just have to let his teacher know and she adjusts her curriculum accordingly.



answers from Dayton on

I would have to tell you to take him to an eye doctor. The guys at CMC are really good and nice too. I just had my 1 year old there 2 weeks ago and my oldest 2 go next week. I would at least call and tell them exacxtly what you told us. They should be able to answer your questions.



answers from Youngstown on

My son is color blind (he is 8) and I have known since he was about 5. I started seeing signs as early as 2 or 3 though- we would play candy land and he would get a purple card and move to a blue space. Color blindness is pretty common in boys and really doesn't make much difference in their life- I have to help him pick out clothes and he'll never be a fighter piliot but besides that its no big deal. We did have it confirmed by an eye dr but we already knew. There are acturally colorblindness tests - they are a circle of various colored dots and a "regular" person can see shapes or numbers in them but a colorblind one cant. They acutally make them for children- you can do a web search and find them. They have shapes like sail boats or triangles in them instead of the numbers- Just have your son look at them and see if he picks anything out. The most common kind of colorblindness is red/green they cant distinguish shades of green and brown or blue and purple. One other thing to consider is heredity (sp?) my grandfather was colorblind and it runs in families- good luck!!



answers from Columbus on

I have a two year old (3 in March) and up till about a week ago, he would name random colors for anything. I would tell him the color and even a couple of minutes later, he still couldn't tell me. Then one day it just sort of clicked. Now he seems to be able to tell me the correct color most of the time. So it may be that you just need to wait it out a little while and see if it clicks with your son too. Hope this helps.



answers from Columbus on


First of all, I agree that he's too young to tell. Next, are there are reasons to suspect color blindness, such as occurrence in family, brain injury, desease, or premature birth?

The inability to distinguish all the colors like you describe is rare. Also, color differences are sometimes subtle. Blue and green, red and orange, etc. all appear on a continuum from more of one color to more of another. At what point does it switch from being blue to being green, for example? That is somewhat subjective.

To expect a 2 year year old to have the discernment and ability to judge that is probably expecting too much, at least for some. It doesn't mean that your 2 year old is not as smart, but you know children mature at different rates and everyone has their own strengths and weakness. There are also other processes going on that involve language and brain processing and not just distinguishing hues of colors.

It's good that you are so observant and involved in teaching your kids! Keep doing what you're doing and don't worry. OF course, if anything changes or you notice other possible eye problems, get to the eye doctor ASAP!




answers from Cincinnati on

RELAX! My son did the same exact thing. It too was to the point that I was worried to death about being color blind. I know it goes down the mothers side but his dad, uncle were color blind and his great grandfather on his dad side could only see in black and white. I was worried out of my mind. My son could count to 13 (that's the number of steps we had on each flight in our house), sing ABC's without a flaw, and had the largest vocabulary of any 2 year old I knew at the time, but when it came to colors he couldn't get it. We kept working, we went from asking him back to pointing out everything and saying "Aren't those green trees beautiful?" and so on. He's almost 4 and there are still days (I think it's more lazy now) that he has a very very hard time telling me what blue things are. He can do all the other colors now. He goes to preschool and the teachers said it's completely normal and that they see it can be ahead in almost everything but one small thing. I wouldn't worry. I don't think they can test until the child is able to recongize numbers because that's what the color blind test entails. Best wishes and try not to worry so much. He has plenty of time to learn colors.



answers from Columbus on

You can tell early, but it is hard when they are very little. If the mother is a recessive carrier it is highly likely the boys will have it. If the mother is color blind, all her boys will be color blind. There is no variance. For example, if the mother is color blind, then there is NO chance that any of her boys will NOT be color blind. As always, you will need to get him tested and see for sure. There are tests they can do. Just before you jump the gun, please make sure it is not a two year old thing. Many three year olds have time grasping colors too.

Please remember, if they are color blind, then they will still live a happy, normal life.