Screenings & Health Information
Vision and Hearing Screening
ACPS recognizes that hearing loss and vision problems may impact a student's ability to be successful in school. In compliance with the Code of Virginia Section 22.1-273, vision and hearing screenings are provided to students in grades K, 3, 7, and 10 and students who are newly enrolled unless screened by a medical provider in the past year. School health nurses and assistants conduct the screening programs. It is important to note that these screening programs do not take the place of comprehensive vision and hearing examinations for students who are experiencing problems. Parents will be notified of any abnormal screening results and referred to primary care and vision providers for evaluation if indicated.
In addition to the screening, ACPS school nurses are available to provide resources to families who need assistance obtaining glasses for their children. Please reach out to your school nurse for more information.
Scoliosis Information for Parents and Guardians
In compliance with the Code of Virginia (8VAC20-690-20 and § 22.1-273.1) Alexandria City Public Schools provides parent educational information about scoliosis for students in grades five through ten. The following information discusses scoliosis and the importance of early detection and treatment. Resources for additional information are also provided. Please contact your student’s healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about scoliosis. ACPS school nurses are available to provide information about community healthcare providers if needed.
What is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine and is the most common spine condition in children. According to the National Scoliosis Foundation, approximately 3% of children under the age of 16 experience scoliosis. The spine may curve from side-to-side, and some of the spinal bones may rotate slightly, making the hips or shoulders appear uneven. Scoliosis occurs in healthy school-age children. Initial signs usually appear during the ages of 10-14 when a growth spurt may occur. For the majority of cases, the cause is unknown. Scoliosis may run in families and is seen more often in girls than boys. The majority of cases of scoliosis are “idiopathic”, with no known cause.
Early Diagnosis is Important
Early detection and treatment when indicated may prevent scoliosis from progressing to a stage where it interferes with mobility or activities. Early detection is important to make sure the curve does not progress and can be controlled by a brace and/or specific exercises. Parents should watch for the following symptoms of scoliosis beginning when their child is about 10 years of age: uneven shoulders, waist or hip, as well as shoulder blades that are prominent. Your student’s healthcare provider should examine your child if any of these signs are present.
The treatment for scoliosis can include exercises, orthopedic braces or surgery, depending on the cause and how severe the curve. Many children do not need treatment, but if treatment is needed, your healthcare provider will recommend the best option for your child.
Eating Disorders Awareness
In accordance with the Code of Virginia § 22.1-273.2, Alexandria City Public Schools provides educational information regarding eating disorders to parents of students in grades 5 through 12 on an annual basis.
What Are Eating Disorders?
Eating disorders are behaviors that can lead to serious health problems. These behaviors can begin as a child, and affect both girls and boys. When discovered early, eating disorders are treatable. It is important to note that eating disorders are not identified based on weight changes as much as behaviors and attitudes. Signs of eating disorders may differ between males and females and in different age groups. Often, a young person may not recognize the signs that they might have an eating disorder. Parents/guardians and family members are in a position to notice behaviors that cause concern. It is important that a child with an eating disorder be treated early by someone who understands this type of care.
Key things to look for around food:
Eating a lot of food that seems out of control (large amounts of food may disappear, you find a lot of empty wrappers hidden)
Develops food rules—may eat only a particular food or food group, cuts food into very small pieces, or spreads food out on the plate
Talks a lot about, or focuses often, on weight, food, calories, fat grams, and dieting
Often says that they are not hungry
Skips meals or takes small portions of food at regular meals
Cooks meals or treats for others but won’t eat them
Avoids mealtimes or situations involving food
Goes to the bathroom after meals often
Uses a lot of mouthwash, mints, and/or gum
Starts cutting out foods that he or she used to enjoy
Key things to look for around activity:
Exercises all the time, more than what is healthy or recommended – despite weather, lack of energy, illness, or injury
Stops doing their regular activities, spends more time alone (can be spending more time exercising)
Physical Risk Factors:
Feels cold all the time or complains of being tired all the time. Likely to become more irritable and/or nervous.
Any vomiting after eating (or see signs in the bathroom of vomiting – smell, clogged shower drain)
Any use of laxatives or diuretics (or you find empty packages)
Other Risk Factors:
Believes that they are too big or too fat (regardless of reality)
Asks often to be reassured about how they look
Stops hanging out with their friends
Not able to talk about how they are feeling
Reports others are newly judgmental or “not connecting”
If Your Child Shows Signs of a Possible Eating Disorder
After reviewing this information, if you think your child may be showing signs of a possible eating disorder, please contact your healthcare provider or one of the resources listed below.
Seek help from your healthcare provider as soon as possible; a child with an eating disorder should be seen by someone who understands the treatment of eating disorders. The earlier a person with an eating disorder seeks treatment, the greater the likelihood of physical and emotional recovery.
- Academy for Eating Disorders (AED)
- Families Empowered and Supporting Treatment of Eating Disorders (F.E.A.S.T.)
- National Eating Disorders Association
- Toll free, confidential Helpline, 1-800-931-2237
Source: Fairfax County Public Schools