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!