Tuesday, 16 September 2014 16:17

Learning Difficulties Newcastle

Irlen Syndrome is Hereditary

Imagine being 6 year old and trying really hard to read from your school readers and also trying to show Mum and Dad that you can read (but in fact cannot achieve what is expected of you). I met such a child yesterday, and she was accompanied by her Dad who is a teacher. During our discussions, it became apparent that Dad also had problems with schoolwork and even now, only reads what he has to read! He does try from time to time to read a novel, but after only a short time, the words become unclear, and he has to work too hard to keep reading. He did not know that he had Irlen, but does now! His daughter was able to read much more fluently and accurately with the final overlay selected. She is now coming to get the Irlen lenses, so life should be easier for her at school from now on. Once again, it is so rewarding to be helping children (and adults) who have struggled to read efficiently. I love going to work!

Published in Dr Joan Brien
Monday, 18 August 2014 16:13

Reading Difficulties Newcastle

I saw a young girl today who is in Year 9 at school. She was screened about 3 years ago and was given an overlay. We recommended that she come back for the Irlen lenses, but for whatever reason, she was provided with tinted lenses from an optometrist that were the same as the overlay. She has also been using violet paper for handouts etc. Recently, one of her teachers noticed that when she was reading with these tinted lenses, she was reading better on blue paper than the violet paper, so she suggested that the girl come back to the clinic to check the colour. During the assessment, I pointed out that when wearing Irlen lenses, white paper looks white but softer, so that the lenses don't make it feel like you are in a green world, or pink world etc. She was surprised at this, as she said that when she wears the lenses from the optometrist, the page is changed to violet and she actually had commented to her mother that when she has them on and looks around, she feels like everything looks violet. There are some optometrists who have a machine called a Colourimeter and they use it to select coloured lenses for children and adults. It involves looking down at a page of text while they change the colour of the light shining on the paper. We recently saw another person who had lenses selected this way and they also said that the paper looks coloured when they are looking through them. I was also told about a little girl who had been given a yellow overlay at the screening appointment, and instead of bringing her back to the clinic for the correctly tinted lenses, her mum took her to an optometrist who gave her yellow lenses. She is constantly saying in class that they hurt her eyes and give her headaches, so the teacher has been telling her to tell her mum. She said that she has, but mum just says she has to get used to them because that's what the optometrist said. I want to stress how important it is for the tinted lenses to be selected by an Irlen Diagnostician, because the colour of the lenses is often different from the colour of the overlay. So if you know of any people who have done this, maybe you can pass this information onto them.

Published in Dr Joan Brien
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".

http://www.dyslexia-australia.com.au/assessment.htm 

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