Free Webinar

Docet webinar - Assessing children with special educational needs

Domains covered
Communication Clinical practice

In this live webinar, Professor Rachel Pilling will cover common ocular presentations in children with special educational needs (SEN) and look at how optometrists can support the children and their parents to optimise their vision and know when referral is required.

Children Webinar

About the webinar

This one-hour webinar, funded by Docet and managed by The College of Optometrists, looks to build the confidence of community optometrists in examining children with special educational needs.

The presenter will cover the following areas:

Practical tips

  • Get out of your comfort zone, and help the child stay in theirs
  • How reasonable adjustments and simple adaptations to equipment can facilitate examination of children with special needs.

Diagnoses and what to expect

  • How children with special needs present, how they may manifest symptoms and signs, and common multi-system medical diagnoses with ophthalmic associations.

How and who to refer

  • Urgency and referral pathways, helping parents know what to expect.

Cerebral visual impairment (CVI) and atypical visual behaviours

  • How children with special needs may ‘see’ differently to other children, despite a normal optical assessment
  • Signposting of resources for parents
  • Translating your findings into practical tips for parents to help them understand and support their child’s vision.

At the end of the webinar Professor Pilling will answer some of the live questions raised during the talk. 

You will be able to claim one interactive CPD point after attending this live session.

Domains and learning outcomes

Clinical practice

S. 6 Recognise and work within, your limits of competence

  • Understand the role of the optometrist in identifying atypical visual behaviours and know when to refer into VI or HES services.

S. 7 Conduct appropriate assessments, examinations, treatments and referrals

  • Understand how to adapt examinations of children with special needs
  • Understand the role of signposting to parent/patient information and use of strategies to support visual learning.


S. 2 – Communicate effectively with patients

  • Understand how a child with special needs might communicate and recognise the role of the carer/parent.
The whole lecture was so well organised, clear and informative. I don't think there was a wasted minute. Everything was useful. One of the best lectures I've watched from Docet.
Attendee, Docet webinar ‘The optic disc challenge’ with Paddy Gunn MCOptom


Professor Rachel Pilling

Professor of Special Needs & Learning Disability Eye Care

Rachel has been a consultant paediatric ophthalmologist at Bradford Teaching Hospitals since 2010 and was appointed as Professor of Special Needs and Learning Disability Eye Care by the University of Bradford in 2020. She has published guidance on eye care for learning disability for RCOphth and RCGP and developed quality standards for eye departments. 

She has published widely on aspects of eye care for learning disability including cataract surgery and diabetic retinal screening. Most recently, her work has focused on special school visual assessment, tools for assessing visual function in children with complex needs (the ViBe Matrix). In 2016 she was awarded the Astbury Award in recognition of collaboration in eye care for the Bradford Special School and Learning Disability Visual Assessment.

Rachel has a passion for ‘making it easier’ – easier to understand CVI, easier to diagnose, easier to offer support to children and families, and most of all, making it easier to see. She has worked with NHS England and partners to establish a national Special School Eye Care Service for children with special needs and has recently led a team in producing national guidelines for the role of the eye clinic in assessment of a child with suspect CVI.

Her current research interests are in identifying atypical visual behaviours as early indicators of neurodiversity and development of school-based tools to support visual learning.

Terms & conditions

  • To attend this webinar you must be a GOC registered optometrist.
  • To obtain your interactive CPD point you must ensure the following standards are met, you must:
    • have a minimum attendance of 50 minutes
    • complete a minimum of 4 of the 6 polls.

Students and pre-registration trainees are not eligible to attend this webinar. 

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