Chapter 5: Checkup Time!

The doctor is in

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The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that every child have a medical checkup at least once a year. It’s a good way to make sure a child is healthy and that any problems that may exist are caught early and treated.

If a child is struggling to learn to read, getting a yearly physical exam is even more important. That exam could detect treatable health problems that may be contributing to some of the child’s difficulties in school.

Health concerns and learning to read

Here is a list of some common physical ailments and how they might affect a child’s ability to learn to read:

  • Anemia – The low levels of iron in the bloodstream associated with anemia can cause fatigue and lack of focus.
  • Hypoglycemia – This condition results in sudden drops in blood sugar levels. It can cause confusion, fatigue and memory loss.
  • Diabetes – Diabetes is a very serious condition and must be treated. It can cause confusion, blurred vision, sleepiness and loss of focus.
  • Hypothyroidism – This condition is the result of an underperforming thyroid gland. Untreated, it can result in slow learning, loss of memory, mental fog and fatigue.
  • Attention Deficit Disorder – This condition can make it hard for a child to sit still, follow directions and focus in class.

Checkup checklist

Here is checklist to fill out when preparing for your child’s wellness appointment:

  1. Medications my child is taking (Remember to include over-the-counter medicines, such as pain relievers or allergy medications, as well as any vitamin supplements your child takes)
  2. My child’s immunization history (Don’t forget to note the date when the shots were given
  3. My top three concerns about my child (these can be physical, emotional or social concerns about your child’s health and development)
  4. Concerns my child’s teacher has told me about

No reason to delay

In addition to vision screenings, the Affordable Care Act provides for yearly wellness exams for children. Most preventive care is free as long as you use an in-network provider, even if you haven’t reached your yearly deductible.

Also important

It’s important to remember that even if your child has a yearly checkup, she will still need to see a doctor at other times, as well. The National Institutes of Health recommends that a school-age child be seen by a health care provider if:

  • The child gains or loses a lot of weight.
  • The child develops sleep problems or a sudden change in behavior.
  • The child has breathing problems.
  • The child has frequent sore throats.
  • The child has a fever higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • The child develops skin infections or unexplained rashes.

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References:, “Well-Child Care: A Check-up for Success,”

MedlinePlus, “Children’s Health,”