I tested a little girl today who fitted into the category above. Thank goodness the teacher and the parent agreed that further investigation was required.
Without having the Irlen Screening test today, the little girl would have continued to struggle with looking at print on paper, on the whiteboard and seeing clearly in the environment.
She was very intelligent, loved books but found them so hard to read as the print would move and jump around. If the words were on coloured paper it was a bit better, but they still moved.
Print on a page would go blurry, move and change i.e. lines swapped around and then the lines tried to move out to the corners of the page. Then…the whole book moved too!
Was it just Irlen symptoms that were in play?
Although she had many Irlen symptoms, when I tried to find a suitable coloured overlay for her to see the print more clearly, I found I had to use larger print to get the best overlay result. Although it was only a year since she had had her vision checked, it had since changed.
There are so many changes happening in the brain, especially during the growing years. Therefore if your child is having reading difficulties it is important to have their vision checked once a year apart from having other tests like Irlen Screening and tutoring.
If you can’t see well either because of poor vision and/or Irlen symptoms - which affect your perceptual vision i.e. how the brain processes information, then school will be hard work!
This little girl would have continued to find school difficult without getting the right help and although she wanted to read now with all these symptoms happening, soon she would stop trying.
Once she has her vision corrected I’ll be able to check how the Irlen coloured overlay is still helping and then test her for the correct Irlen tint colours to be dyed into her vision lenses.
Then she will have hope, as the words will stay in place.
Her learning will be so much easier as she will be able to see correctly.
Children with Irlen Syndrome who have been diagnosed and whose parents know their special talents are lucky – but I fear for those who are never diagnosed.
Irlen tinted lenses may help those who are unable to read letters, which blur, spin or change colour, or as my young client said last week, “Words explode out into letters which make new words and new sentences”!
I’ve heard clients tell me about…when they were young, being hit on the hand after explaining to the adult, “I had to stop playing the music on the piano as there were no more notes on the page.” That was because the notes had disappeared off the page! Disappearing print, numerals, musical notes – can be Irlen symptoms.
Another young client saw large holes in his Dad, which his Irlen lenses corrected so that he saw everything correctly in the environment. This type of environmental symptom is not unusual, however parents rarely ask their children what their environment looks like. The child that is constantly bumping into things and misses their step as they see stairs as flat probably has Irlen Syndrome.
With words and/or the environment always ‘behaving this way’ it never occurs to the child to complain. However the child sees the students around them coping without difficulty, so often avoidance skills are quickly developed which continue on into adulthood.
Therefore…when a child uses avoidance skills it’s better to assume this actually means something. Don’t assume because we as adults don’t understand, it doesn’t make it untrue.
If Irlen Syndrome is diagnosed, it’s a learning difference, not a disability.
The neural pathways transmitting the visual message to the brain are not quite working together and this causes the visual distortions, headaches and migraines. Coloured Irlen lenses alter the offending frequencies within the white light spectrum just enough to adjust the timing of the neural pathways. This allows the visual message to arrive synchronised to the visual cortex at the back of the brain, so that you ‘see’ things correctly.
CHILDREN COULD BE SEEN BY PARENTS AND TEACHERS AS UNDER-ACHIEVERS, often seeming to be bright but not working to their potential. Labelled as lazy, difficult, stupid or a distraction to others.
These students are often very bright but they feel marginalised from the moment they see other students reading with ease. For them the page is often very glary and may have print that appears indecipherable, nauseating and as crawling scribble.
There is a growing acceptance of the role Irlen plays in learning issues and more teachers and vision specialists are training to screen and diagnose Irlen.
This makes such a difference to students so they can have the best brain to learn with so that their wonderful brainpower doesn’t go to waste.
Thank you to those teachers who educate themselves about the myriad ways children learn and listen with sensitivity to their littlest students.
Different students should have their different needs addressed!
HOW DO THE WORDS LOOK FOR YOU?
Just imagine what it would be like if those people with Irlen Syndrome knew about it and had lenses to manage the symptoms.
A 7 year old’s reading age and schoolwork, leapt ahead with using her specialised Irlen tinted lenses, after being diagnosed with a visual-processing disorder called Irlen Syndrome. Without the lenses her eyes watered and became sore and words jumped around the page. She couldn’t see any spaces between the words! She knew she couldn’t read properly and thought she was just ‘dumb’! No wonder her reaction with her new lenses was “I can see, I can read.”
HOW DO THE WORDS LOOK FOR YOU?
If our teachers and parents asked this simple question of children who appeared to be having trouble learning to read, they may be surprised by the answer that they get. Just as the little girl above had difficulty seeing clearly to read, a little 5 year old boy who was really struggling to even recognise the letters of the alphabet, let alone learn their names and sounds was also bothered by the brightness of the page. He came along for an assessment and when looking at a white page under bright lights, he could not even look at it without his eyes hurting.
He was provided with an Irlen coloured overlay that he said " ..stopped the words from jumping places and words were not 'rubbed out' now". So, this little boy was having problems "seeing" the letters despite HAVING PERFECT EYESIGHT.
It is important that teachers recognise that poor reading skills can be related to poor visual processing issues rather than poor eyesight or a lack of intelligence. Irlen lenses used for visual processing have the same function as prescription lenses have for eyesight problems.
This little boy's Irlen lenses help him to see the words clearly… they do not teach him to read, they just allow him to learn to read. With his perceptual vision corrected he too will be able to have fun reading books like “The Story Weavers of Bacalen” series of adventures. These adventure books have the heroes all wearing different coloured Irlen tinted lenses for various reasons and the books help us to know how different symptoms can be helped with Irlen lenses.
I’ve had a lovely experience with my granddaughter reading the ‘Story Snatchers’ and both of us enjoyed the adventure. We looked forward to the next book, which took us to Paris and through beautiful art museums. Great fun! This second book - the ‘Picture Pinchers’ was exciting too. It was fun to be able to read this book and to find that my granddaughter loved it and was so excited that she had beaten me to the finish line. She loved the purple bookmark idea at the end and how the code told her about the next story of the Music Meddlers being in Edinburgh. I wonder what adventures this book will take us on? And when will it be ready for us to read?
It has been such fun starting conversations with these books with the heroes wearing Irlen lenses and knowing that children can identify with these characters. It is a privilege to help people ‘see’ clearly to read.
Do the short self-test to see if your symptoms could be related to Irlen Syndrome.
Go to https://www.readeasy.co.nz/self-test.html
Light sensitivity is often a symptom of Irlen Syndrome - a perceptual processing disorder and not an optical problem.
Light sensitivity can be a symptom on it’s own but I often find that if light sensitivity is the main problem, then once a short Irlen test is completed you’ll find other Irlen symptoms are also occurring.
In my case I realised I read more slowly without my Irlen coloured overlay or Irlen lenses. This is because without the light frequencies being filtered the white on the page is too bright and bits of white come through the print – this slows my reading speed!
One of my clients reported after wearing new Irlen lenses ‘the frightening brightness of the sun's light, especially in the middle of the day is wonderfully controlled. I can read the computer screen without difficulty; the mobile phone seems to have been tamed. The Kindle responds beautifully to the new lenses and is kind on the eyes.’
Can light sensitivity be so severe that you also may experience headaches and migraines?
A client was having massive headaches, which could not be explained by optometrists or neurologists. She even had a scan but nothing showed up. Another client had unexplained and intense headaches when he was studying and working before his Irlen diagnosis. Both clients thought they couldn’t have Irlen Syndrome because they were ‘academic’ and could read well. Being able to read well and being ‘academic’ doesn’t mean you don’t have Irlen syndrome, these clients just have to work extra hard to get through their workload. Both these clients have been tested for Irlen Syndrome and now have Irlen coloured lenses. Their lenses are hardly ever off! Headaches are gone!
Why is night driving scary?
Driving at night can be really difficult - as one client said – she needs to ‘look away’ when oncoming cars approach to allow her to tolerate the glare from oncoming headlights! The new LED lights that are in cars, as well as many traffic lights, particularly bother her. Added to this any white, middle road marking lines disappear!
With her Irlen lenses her light sensitivity is controlled. Her life is going to be so much better now, as she will not be experiencing the regular migraines that she normally gets every day.
Do the self-test to see if your migraines or headaches could be the result of light sensitivity related to Irlen Syndrome.
Go to https://www.readeasy.co.nz/headaches-self-test.html
I’ve had fun reading the first two books of ‘The Story Weavers of Bacalen’ Series. Although these books are aimed at ages 7-12 years the adventures…and where they take you, as well as the imaginative writing, are fun for all ages. As the authors say “There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book” - Frank Serafini.
The Story Weavers of Bacalan Series (Ages 7-12 Years): A.J. Hill and her two junior authors live in regional New South Wales, Australia. Her husband and two book-loving children have Irlen Syndrome and wear tinted Irlen lenses. These lenses have changed their learning journeys. The Story Snatchers was written as a way to encourage her 8 year old son to read more challenging chapter books now that he had his new orange Irlen Filters. The authors hope that this series will increase the awareness and understanding of Irlen Syndrome and also support and empower those who have been diagnosed. The books can be purchased online at: https://bacalenbooks.com.au/
The Story Weavers of Bacalen: The Story Snatchers What happens when six children are pulled into a magical book return chute? The Story Weavers travel to The Great Archives to stop The Story Snatchers who are poaching stories across the world.
The Story Weavers of Bacalen: The Picture Pinchers What happens when travelling by magical book return chute goes wrong? The Story Weavers join with The Great Studio Gallery to pursue The Picture Pinchers who have become allies of The Story Snatchers. https://bacalenbooks.com.au/
Bratty-Cat, Blinky-Roo and Snooze-Bear (Ages 5-6 Years). A delightful, 24-page, full-colour children's book. This original story introduces children to the Irlen Overlays and Filters while promoting a sense of respect for individual differences. http://irlen.mybigcommerce.com/bratty-cat-blinky-roo-and-snooze-bear/
Jamie Lee and the Magic Glasses (Ages 5-11 Years). This is the real story of how Jamie Lee struggled with reading and how she found help to get tested for Irlen filters. Her new Irlen Filtered Glasses changed her life! To order: www.wizardrabbitpublishing.com
Stella Sees in Blue (Ages 5-7 Years) is a story told and illustrated by a little girl with Irlen Syndrome, who sees things differently from many others. Through Stella’s drawings, we are able to learn a little bit more about how she sees the world. https://www.amazon.com/Stella-Sees-Blue-little-Syndrome
Meet the Super Color Rangers (Ages 7-11 Years, four friends who have joined together as super heroes to battle the forces of confusion that swirl around them. It’s an action-packed showdown as the rangers wearing their colored Irlen Filters battle a set of super villains! This is also the story of friendship, support and how they each find the answer to their own struggles by using the power of color. Join the Super Color Rangers as they work and play together to change their world, and have a little fun along the way! https://www.amazon.com/Super-Color-Rangers-Dorie-Cameron
Coloured overlays and Irlen coloured lenses, which stabilize print, can do more than just help people to read.
Over the years I’ve seen many people helped with the removal of their symptoms by using Irlen lenses.
I have worn mine for some time and find that reading on a white background is easier and more comfortable. Working on the computer is also much easier. I wear Irlen lenses when going into brightly lit supermarkets and malls, and then I can cope with all the noise and people around me.
Now Cornell University is using neuroscience for studying the brain and cognition and how Irlen lenses can help. This research is a huge step forward from previous research.
What is Irlen Syndrome?
Irlen Syndrome is a perceptual processing disorder i.e. it’s a problem with the brain’s ability to process visual information. It’s not an optical problem.
When light acts as a stressor on the brain, the brain isn’t able to correctly process the visual information it receives. The brain works harder, is overactive, and this slows down productivity and puts extra strain and fatigue on your body.
What areas can Irlen Syndrome affect?
Academic – difficulty with reading, maths & reading music
Print looks different
Environment looks different
Poor depth perception
Poor sports performance
Even a few of the above symptoms can mean Irlen Syndrome is affecting you.
Irlen lenses help all the above symptoms & may also help if you suffer from …
Dyslexia, ADD/HD, Autism, Aspergers, light sensitivity, traumatic brain injury (TBI) – whiplash & concussion, autoimmune diseases.
Wanting to help others
Twenty-six years ago I was introduced to Irlen Syndrome. I was learning about
screening people for Irlen Syndrome as professional development. At the time I had a
tutoring business so I was looking for other tools that might help students. I knew that
the colour overlays and coloured lenses helped one in ten people to read better but I
didn’t understand how this worked.
When I was learning how to screen people for Irlen Syndrome I discovered some of
the tasks I had to look at were not easy to keep looking at!
What a relief it was to find an Irlen overlay helped me and to come to the realisation
that Irlen wasn’t just about people finding it hard to read actual words – but for some
like me – it helped me to concentrate on print and took away the glare of white
background. Fantastic – I could read much faster too, I thought I was just a
methodical /slower reader!
How could I use the Irlen screening test to help my students?
Many of the students I knew who found school difficult, didn’t fit the normal difficulties
of just not knowing letter/sounds and maths concepts. Some students were classed
as ‘capable student who needs to try harder’ or ‘needs to concentrate more’ or ‘is
lazy’. It was with these students I decided to do my first Irlen screening.
Connecting the dots: Irlen Syndrome a Piece of the Puzzle
Wow! So many times I was blown away and still am today! Many of these students
had headaches, poor spelling, poor handwriting, difficulties reading aloud, avoids
reading, words move, needs to read in very low light…and many more symptoms that
you may discover with a simple test found either on my website readeasy.co.nz or by
visiting an Irlen Clinic.
What these students and myself found was that this would change lives as the
coloured overlays and the Irlen coloured lenses would do more than just help people