Thursday, 08 May 2014 10:28

Reading Difficulties Newcastle

Dyslexia and Irlen Syndrome (Part 2)

I certainly put the "cat amongst the pigeons" recently when I talked about Irlen Syndrome being confused with dyslexia! (see my Irlen Diagnostic Clinic Newcastle Facebook page June 5 post). I honestly believe that most people (who do not have a definite brain development issue) who can carry out complex thoughts and actions, can be smart in every way including practical skills and planning skills, good at hands-on activities and are as clever as their peers in everything but reading, are likely to have Irlen Syndrome. The sad thing for me is that many of these people will be diagnosed with dyslexia and will go through life with this label. If you take the literal meaning of dyslexia, it simply means "difficulty" (dys) with "language" (lexia) and this can be the result of a number of things. The person may not have had much schooling, may have had a vision problem that was never identified, may have had a hearing problem that was never identified, may have suffered a lot of sickness which interfered with their education, may have a developmental problem with their brain that can make it difficult for them to learn, despite the best efforts of educators and their families and themselves OR they could have IRLEN SYNDROME. In other words, I believe that dyslexia is not a "condition" that someone has, but rather it is a consequence of what life has dealt that individual. I am inserting a link that will take you to the assessment page of Dyslexia Australia. If you look at this page, you will see that the symptoms described (including visual distortions that are reported by people with Irlen Syndrome) are virtually identical to the symptoms of Irlen Syndrome. Wouldn't it be interesting to be able to determine whether people diagnosed with dyslexia using this assessment tool actually have Irlen Syndrome? If we found that, then these people could be helped by the use of Irlen lenses and that would allow them to begin to learn to read effectively and they would not have to go through life being labelled as "dyslexic". 

Published in Dr Joan Brien
Tuesday, 20 May 2014 10:21

Reading Difficulties Newcastle

Irlen Syndrome and Dyslexia

Did you know that Irlen Syndrome is sometimes confused with dyslexia? Irlen Syndrome is not dyslexia, but many people (many teachers) believe that if a child (or adult) has Irlen Syndrome, then they have dyslexia, and that they are one and the same.

This is not the case... Irlen Syndrome is a visual processing problem that MAY cause dyslexia, but it MAY NOT either! Many people with Irlen Syndrome do not have reading difficulties but may experience other symptoms, but they simply believe that if they get tired after reading a few pages, "that is just how it is for me". It is not until they come to the clinic with their child that they realise that they have Irlen Syndrome themselves and that their tiredness when reading is actually the result of that. So if a person does not have reading difficulties but has Irlen Syndrome, they may experience the following symptoms:

  • Headaches after reading a few pages
  • Sore eyes when reading
  • Falling asleep when reading
  • Having to reread sentences because they cannot remember what they have just read
  • Words becoming blurry and difficult to see clearly when reading for a long time.
  • Being able to read, but not enjoying reading.

Read further information and comments on the following link 

Published in Dr Joan Brien

Helen Irlen has reported that Irlen lenses can help children who have autism and aspergers. See the following link.

Currently, there is research being conducted in Australia to determine the impact of irlen lenses on those people who have autism or aspergers. The researcher is looking for participants to take part in this important research project. The participants have to be between 16 years and 26 years old. They have to have a formal diagnosis of High Functioning Autism or Aspergers and wear Irlen lenses. If you would like to be a part of this exciting project, go to the following link. 

Published in Dr Joan Brien
Wednesday, 26 March 2014 09:49

Reading Difficulties Newcastle

I saw a little person today who reported that the words on the page went up and down like waves. This can make it really difficult to read efficiently. For some people, this "waving" motion can be flat on the page, or it can even be "lifting off the page" in an upwards motion. For some, this causes nausea when looking at the words. Unfortunately, children don't understand that other people don't see the words like this, and can often be in trouble because their parents and teachers don't know what the words look like for them. If you have a situation in your own home or if you know of other situations where parents are getting frustrated with their child's apparent reluctance to read, please check with the child about how the words look for them or ask them is it hard to see the words? If they say yes, ask them why is it hard? With any luck, they may be able to verbalise the problem and this may help the parent to understand.

Published in Dr Joan Brien
Wednesday, 09 April 2014 09:44

Reading Difficulties Newcastle

I was contacted by a parent today who had been referred to our clinic by an optometrist! Hallelujah! All too often, children are taken to optometrists because they are having problems with reading, and more often than not, end up with prescription lenses because the optometrist is doing what they can to help the child to read better. However, a number of those children still end up being diagnosed with Irlen Syndrome because their reading problems are actually not the result of a vision problem. Another thing that happens occasionally is that a parent will take their child to the optometrist to have their eyes checked before coming to our Clinic to be assessed for Irlen. When they mention to the optometrist that they are coming to be assessed for Irlen Syndrome, they are advised to "wait a few months to see if the problems go away with the optometric lenses". I find this frustrating because these parents have usually told us that their children have words moving or fading and we know that their new "reading glasses" will not stop these symptoms, and it means that the child is going to continue to flounder at school for another "few months" and get further and further behind. If this happens to you or any of your friends, and you have the opportunity to pass on some information, please let them know that an optometrist cannot diagnose dyslexia or Irlen Syndrome and that, even though their child may have a vision problem that is detected by the optometrist, if they also have symptoms of Irlen, then they should proceed with the assessment at an Irlen Clinic, because prescription lenses can be tinted so that both problems are corrected.

Published in Dr Joan Brien
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