Archive for October 23rd, 2008


Image: Irlen.com

Update: Irlen Syndrome: 18/3/2013

By Cynthia Mccormick
July 17, 2008
For years, Tracy Bowman of Buzzards Bay tried to get her elementary-school-age daughter to pick up a book and read.

She stocked her home with the newest children’s literature and beloved classics.

But Bowman ended up reading the Junie B. Jones books out loud to Dayna, now 10, after the child complained that reading hurt her eyes.

Bowman had her daughter’s vision tested.

It was fine.

The staff at James F. Peebles Elementary School had Dayna tested for learning disabilities.

She was fine.

Some people thought Dayna might just be lazy, but when Bowman saw her vivacious, active daughter getting off the bus every day in tears after another failure in school, she knew something else was going on.

“She couldn’t read like her friends did,” Bowman says. “It was breaking my heart. I would have to read her homework directions to her.”

Dayna’s teachers puzzled over her case, too. Then, on a hunch, a Bourne special education teacher had the girl tested for a little-known perceptual problem called Irlen syndrome.

Also known as scoptopic sensitivity syndrome, Irlen syndrome causes problems with the nervous system’s understanding of visual information, such as printing.

Most sufferers are bothered by light sensitivity, especially fluorescent lights. Reading makes them feel strained or sleepy and can give them headaches — which is not surprising, since words seem to move around the page, and readers have trouble finding their place.

Really bad cases of Irlen syndrome can make it almost impossible for sufferers to sit down and read for any period of time. Children with milder cases may be good readers who don’t progress as much in their instruction as teachers expect.

“I’d never heard of it before,” Bowman says.

Diane Godfrey, the special education teacher, explained that Dayna saw the written page differently from other people.

“It was like looking at an optical illusion all the time,” Bowman says.

The solution to Dayna’s reading problems was surprisingly simple.
All Dayna required to put her back on track with her peer group was to have a transparent colored overlay placed on her reading material.
Irlen expert Georgianna Saba of Medford determined that the best color transparency for Dayna was pink, so now the girl goes to school with an 8-by-10-inch, rose-colored transparent page to put over her schoolwork. She also was fitted with a pair of nonprescription glasses with pink-tinted lenses.

The transformation was amazing, Bowman says.

“Dayna is now getting the best report card she ever had,” she says. “She is going to bed reading. She says, ‘Mom, can I please keep reading? Please?'”

When Dayna’s tutor lent her a book about Irlen syndrome, called “Reading by the Colors,” Bowman felt a flash of recognition.

“I was reading about myself,” she says. A hairdresser, she had decided to forgo college because she doubted she could keep up with the coursework.

“Reading was labored and difficult for me,” Bowman says. “My brain would shut off, and I’d fall asleep.”

Together with a now-retired social worker from the Bourne school system, Julie Sacchetti, Bowman founded a local company called the Irlen Connection, which refers children and adults to testing for Irlen syndrome.

The main purpose of the Irlen Connection is to raise awareness about the perceptual problem, which is not picked up by regular special education testing or physicians, Bowman says.

She and Sacchetti are lobbying the Legislature to include testing for Irlen syndrome in the normal battery of special education tests.

While House Bill 539 initially would require an outlay of approximately $838,250 to train testers in screening methods, it would save the special education system millions of dollars, the women say.

Irlen syndrome is named after Helen Irlen, the educational psychologist who discovered the condition while working with adult learners in California in the early 1980s.

Irlen found that some students’ reading improved when they covered a page of print with a colored overlay.

Bowman and Sacchetti say cases of Irlen syndrome often are misdiagnosed as attention-deficit disorder or other issues that can require costly educational interventions. Once Irlen syndrome is diagnosed, the only cost is for colored transparencies and glasses.

Saba, the Irlen expert, estimates that after 12 months of Irlen testing, 1,000 students would be able to be pulled off Individual Education Plans for a savings of about $6.7 million.

Massachusetts Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll has called the 45-minute Irlen screening method “very efficient and economical.”

Arizona has passed a bill for a pilot project, and California has a pilot project for its prison population, Bowman says.

Representatives in the Massachusetts House are scheduled to vote on the testing bill by the end of the month.

Bowman is optimistic the bill will get passed this time, even though similar legislation has languished in the Statehouse for years.

She predicts that Irlen screening would boost MCAS scores, as students bone up on reading.

Bowman can’t even put a price tag on how much emotional pain can be deflected by screening for Irlen syndrome.

“My daughter used to cry and say no one understands,” she says. “We have to help these kids in elementary school. There’s nothing wrong with their intelligence.”




Which colour do you prefer as a background colour when reading these text? Have you heard about Irlen-syndrome? No? Well, read further…and read on the link on Irlen.com even more! You will also see a book in this post- at the end. A book which  scanned through when a friend of mine was busy with her studies in becoming an Educational  Psychologist. People with Irlen-syndrome prefer to read with a coloured background, therefore the colour buttons on the site of Irlen.com for you to enhance the colour of the site’s background. In some schools Senco’s also advise teachers to have light yellow as a background for Power Point slides and Interactive Whiteboard slides. Even the children I’m teaching prefer yellow as a background! These colours have absolutely nothing to do with ‘getting children to relax’ – like I was ‘corrected‘ recently… it is to reduce the ‘glare’ of the slides reflecting in children’s eyes, causing problems such as headaches.

Read about the dyslexic/hyperactive child on this link. The link will open in a new window.

The Irlen Method –
Helping Children and Adults with processing problems for over 25 years The Irlen Method is the only research-based color method backed by over 4,000 school districts. Used by educators since 1983, this patented method and color-based technology was discovered by Helen Irlen, MA, LMFT, the nation’s leading expert in perceptually-based reading and learning difficulties.

The Irlen Method is a non-invasive, patented technology that uses colored overlays and filters to improve the brain’s ability to process visual information. It is the only method scientifically proven to successfully correct the processing problems associated with Irlen Syndrome.

This technology can improve reading fluency, comfort, comprehension, attention, and concentration while reducing light sensitivity. This is not a method of reading instruction. It is a color-based technology that filters out offensive light waves, so the brain can accurately process visual information.

We help children and adults suffering from

Reading and learning problems
ADD/HD, Autism and Asperger Syndrome
Behavioral and emotional problems
Headaches, migraines, fatigue and other physical symptoms
Light Sensitivity/Photophobia
Traumatic brain injury (TBI), whip lash, and concussions
Certain medical and visual conditions.

This method has received international acclaim and is included in professional journals and textbooks. It has also been featured in national and international media, including National Geographic, 60 Minutes, Good Morning America, ABC World News, NBC News, the BBC and TV shows in Ireland, Hong Kong, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea, and Australia.

What is the Irlen Method?

The Irlen Method has been used for over 25 years to identify and help people with a type of processing problem called Irlen Syndrome, formerly known as Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome (SSS). Irlen Syndrome is not an optical problem. It is a problem with the brain’s ability to process visual information. This problem tends to run in families and is not currently identified by other standardized educational or medical tests.

Irlen Syndrome can affect many different areas, including:

Academic and work performance
Ability to sit still

This problem can manifest itself differently for each individual. This problem is not remediable and is often a lifetime barrier to learning and performance. If you suffer from any of the following, Irlen Syndrome might be your problem:

Print looks different
Environment looks different
Slow or inefficient reading
Poor comprehension
Eye strain
Difficulty with math computation
Difficulty copying
Difficulty reading music
Poor sports performance
Poor depth-perception
Low motivation
Low self-esteem
Symptoms of Irlen Syndrome
Light Sensitivity

Bothered by glare, fluorescent lights, bright lights, sunlight and sometimes lights at night
Some individuals experience physical symptoms and feel tired, sleepy, dizzy, anxious, or irritable. Others experience headaches, mood changes, restlessness or have difficulty staying focused, especially with bright or fluorescent lights.

Reading Problems

Poor comprehension
Misreads words
Problems tracking from line to line
Reads in dim light
Skips words or lines
Reads slowly or hesitantly
Takes breaks
Loses place
Avoids reading


Strain and fatigue
Tired or sleepy
Headaches or nausea
Fidgety or restless
Eyes that hurt or become watery

Attention and Concentration Problems

Problems with concentration when reading and doing academic tasks
Often people can appear to have other conditions, such as attention deficit disorder, and are given medication unnecessarily.

Writing Problems:

Trouble copying
Unequal spacing
Unequal letter size
Writing up or downhill
Inconsistent spelling

Other Characteristics:

Strain or fatigue from computer use
Difficulty reading music
Sloppy, careless math errors
Misaligned numbers in columns
Ineffective use of study time
Lack of motivation
Grades do not reflect the amount of effort

Depth Perception:

Difficulty catching balls
Difficutly judging distances
Additional caution necessary while driving


Words on the page lack clarity or stability; i.e., may appear to be blurry, moving, or disappear. See more distortions on the Irlen.com-site.

irlen seesaw

irlen river

irlen washout
Read more on the Irlen website. The link will open in a new window.

Afrikaans readers:

Watter kleur verkies jy om as agtergrond te he wanneer jy lees? Kyk na hierdie gedeeltes, presies dieselfde stuk, met verskillende agtergronde! Dit is waaroor Irlen-sindroom gaan. Lees meer daaroor hier en op die webbladsy-link wat ek gegee het. Gaan lees gerus by “juffer” ook – link onderaan die pos – oor leesprobleme. Lees ook my ondervinding met ‘n leerling in my klas wat ek laat skandeer het deur ‘n vriendin. Die berig wat ek hier plaas het ek ook deur “juffer” gekry, wat natuurlik ‘n paar jaar terug verskyn het, daarom glo ek dat die statistieke wat daarin genoem word, vandag natuurlik bietjie “anders” sal lyk. Onthou, kinders met enige leerprobleem, is nie “dom” nie. Daar bestaan vir my nie so ‘n woord in my woordeskat wanneer dit by kinders/leerprobleme kom nie. Kinders leer verskillend, is verskillend! en reageer verskillend op die leerinhoud wat deur Onderwysers voorgehou word, ek glo dat Onderwysers meer van hulle kant af moet doen om die behoeftes van kinders aan te vul, wat betref hul onderrigstyl, omdat kinders verskillende leerstyle het!
Afrikaans Readers….Hierdie is ‘n koerantartikel..wat in 1989 verskyn het.

Jou `lui, dom’ kind is dalk ‘n Irlen-lyer
Inge Verster

Duisende kinders ly onwetend aan Irlen-sindroom, wat hulle onnodig as onderpresteerders en ongemotiveerd brandmerk. Inge Verster het meer oor die verskynsel uitgevind.
Soos wat jy besig is om hierdie woorde as ‘n sinvolle geheel te lees, is ‘n optiese wonder aan die gebeur. Dink daaroor. Elke 250 millisekondes word jou oë met nuwe, inkomende, visuele stimuli gebombardeer.  En terwyl jou kykers vinniger as springmieliepitte in kokende olie rondspring om dit te verwerk word daar van jou brein verwag om sin te maak uit die horde stilstaande letters en woorde op die koerantpapier voor jou. Geoefende chaos vir die meeste van ons, maar bittere stryd vir duisende mense wat êrens ‘n kortsluiting in die visuele verwerkingsproses beleef mense soos dié met Irlen-sindroom, ‘n verskynsel wat onderwysers, sielkundiges en mediese wetenskaplikes tot nou toe aan die raai gehad het omdat dit nie deur standaardvisuele, -opvoedkundige en -sielkundige skooltoetse opgespoor word nie. Amerikaanse navorsers het gevind dat nagenoeg 12 tot 14% van kinders van skoolgaande ouderdom aan dié sin droom ly. Die tragedie is egter dat die meeste Irlen-lyers onwetend met die sindroom saamleef, en lewenslank etikette soos “onderpresteerder”, “dom”, “lui” of “ongemotiveerd” kry.

Enorme oningeligtheid heers oor die sindroom, ook in Suid-Afrika, waar dit maar eers die afgelope sowat drie jaar werklik in die kollig is, sê Martelean Venter, ‘n opvoedkundige sielkundige van Nelspruit en een van twee gekwalifiseerde Irlen-diagnostici in Suid-Afrika. Die sindroom ook bekend as – Skotopiese Sensitiwiteitsindroom (SSS) – dra die naam van Helen Irlen, die Amerikaanse opvoedkundige sielkundige en pionier op die gebied van behandeling van die toestand met gekleurde filters.

Irlen-sindroom is ‘n visuele persepsuele probleem, eerder as ‘n oogprobleem. Mense wat hieraan ly, sukkel om al die kleure in die ligspektrum te verwerk en ondervind gevolglik persepsuele distorsies. Dis ‘n komplekse, veranderbare toestand wat dikwels in kombinasie met ander leer- of leesprobleme, hiperaktiwiteit, aandagafwykings of disleksie gepaardgaan. Lees verg groter moeite en konsentrasie van Irlen-lyers omdat hulle letters en woorde anders as normale lesers sien. Hulle moet hulself voortdurend inspan om by verwringings van die gedrukte teks of die wit agtergrond aan te pas. Die gevolg is dat hulle vinnig moeg word, sukkel om met begrip te lees en nie lank kan konsentreer nie. Genetiese oordraag-baarheid speel ‘n sterk rol in dié neurologiese probleem.

‘n Australiese studie het bevind dat 84% van een of albei ouers van ‘n kind met Irlen-sindroom ook simptome toon. Irlen en disleksie, ‘n moontlike simptoom daarvan, word dikwels met mekaar verwar. Na raming is een uit elke tien mense disleksies en/of sukkel met ‘n  vorm van leergestremdheid. Daar word gereken dat sowat die helfte van dié groep aan wisselende grade van die Irlen-sin droom ly. Irlen-lyers word dikwels bloot as disleksies geklassifiseer, sê Venter.

Disleksiese volwassenes sonder Irlen neem ‘n betrokke bladsy op dieselfde manier waar, onafhanklik van hoe lank aaneen hulle lees. Irlen-lyers, daarenteen, sukkel om ‘n konstante beeld van die bladsy te vorm en vind lees al hoe meer inspannend, hoe langer hulle dit doen. As teenvoeter vir dié probleem het Helen Irlen in die vroeë jare tagtig met gekleurde filters in die vorms van lense en dekblaaie vorendag gekom. Een van die teorieë agter die gekleurde lense is dat dit die kontras tussen die agtergrond en die letters verskerp. Só herstel dit die kortsluiting wat Irlen-lyers vermoedelik ondervind tussen die “vinnige” en die “stadige” paadjies wat stimuli in die visuele korteks in die brein vervoer. ‘n Ander teorie lui dat die visuele verwerkingstelsel deels deur verspreide rooi lig ge¨nhibeer word. Die veronderstelling is dat ‘n blou filter, wat die rooi lig uitblok, die korrekte tydsberekening help bewerkstellig. Volgens die Irlen-Instituut in Long Beach, Kalifornië, is daar wêreldwyd nagenoeg 50000 mense wat Irlen-filters dra. Die sukses daarvan wissel van individu tot individu.

Onlangse navorsing in Australië het getoon dat meer as 80% van mense steeds ná ses jaar tevrede was met hul lense, sê André Greyling, opvoedkundige sielkundige en Irlen diagnostikus van Arcadia, Pretoria. Plaaslik vertel die lense ‘n suksesverhaal. Dit gebeur wel dat die simptome oor die jare verander, veral in ‘n kind wat nog ontwikkel, en dan moet sy lense aangepas word. “Sowat 98% van Irlen se simptome kan deur die lense verlig word. Maar omdat dit ‘n sindroom is, raak die persoon nooit heeltemal ontslae daarvan nie.” Irlen-filters is allermins ‘n blitskuur vir disleksie. Mense kan nie skielik voorheen onbekende woorde herken of beskik nie uit die bloute oor nuwe fonetiese vaardighede nie. “Die lense neem die distorsies weg, maar die swak lees- en skryfvaardighede wat oor die jare aangeleer is, is steeds daar.” ‘n Duideliker, meer stabiele waarneming van enige vorm van drukwerk  is ‘n verbetering wat kan intree. Die leser is meer ontspanne en kan langer aaneen lees. Synde self ‘n Irlen-lyer, onthou Venter die gevoelens van ontoereikendheid, minderwaardigheid en verwardheid wat sy as “onderpresteerder” op skool ervaar het. Ure se vasberade gesukkel agter die boeke smiddae ná skool het haar nie veel meer in die sak gebring as kwaai hoofpyne nie iets wat geen leesbril of mediese toetse kon opklaar of verklaar nie. In Suid-Afrika is daar nou opgeleide Irlen-sifters wat vir die sindroom kan toets. Pasiënte word verwys na die twee Irlen-klinieke, waar omvattende diagnostiese toetse gedoen word om ‘n korrekte filterkleur uit ‘n haas onbeperkte spektrum kleurkombinasies te kies. Dit is wenslik dat mense ‘n optometriese toets aflê om die aanwesigheid van enige oogprobleme vas te stel voordat hulle lense kry. Behandeling in die Irlen-klinieke is holisties die kind se mediese, sielkundige en opvoedkundige agtergrond word in oënskou geneem. Irlen-filters sluit nie verdere remedierende terapie uit nie. Vroeë tekens van Irlen is soms te bespeur in voor-skoolse kinders wat byvoorbeeld sukkel om ‘n bal te vang, fiets te ry of tussen die lyne in te kleur.
Dit kan ook gebeur dat kinders dalk in die eerste sowat drie skooljare goed regkom met lees, en dat die simptome eers daarna kop uitsteek wanneer die leer- en leeslas toeneem.

Baie volwassenes, wat onwetend aan Irlen-sindroom ly, ervaar daagliks erge frustrasie weens onverklaarbaar lae produktiwiteit by die werk. Harde werkers sukkel om hul werk betyds klaar te kry, kan nie vir lank op ‘n dokument konsentreer nie, word gou moeg en neem dikwels ‘n kwaai hoofpyn of migraine smiddae huis toe. Dit kan ook in skryfgewoontes manifesteer. Die persoon ervaar skryf as uitputtend. Die skrif is oneweredig, skuins teen die kantlyn af, soos ‘n enkele kolom in die middel van die blad of vol spelfoute.

Bron…Die link sal in ‘n nuwe bladsy oopmaak.

Ek was baie gelukkig om deel te kon wees van die heel laaste groep studente in SA om die kursus te doen wat hulle voorheen die MBD-kursus genoem het. Dit staan vir “Minimale Brein Disfunksie”. Die Dept. van Onderwys het toe besluit dit klink te…er…”erg” en toe ons groep se kwalifikasie-benaming “herdoop” na: “Psigoneurologiese Leergestremdhede”. Kortliks, dit sluit alles in oor die vroeër jare se Hulpklas, in kort, leerders wat leerafwykings/leerprobleme het. Dit sluit nie die kind in met Spesifieke Leergestremdhede nie, bv. Die blinde kind, dowe kind, ens.alhoewel ons studierigting ook voorsiening gemaak het vir al daardie komponente en ons dit ook bestudeer het, maar die uiteindelike kursus was gemik op die Hulpklas in  Hoofstroom Onderwys.

Ek het ‘n leerling/leerder in my klas gehad – daardie stadium was hy Gr3 – wat leesprobleme ondervind het. Terselfdertyd het hy ook konsentrasie-probleme gehad en selfs sy handskrif het probleme opgelewer. Ek was altyd, sedert my RO-kwalifikasie en later ook die MBD-kwalifikasie, baie sensitief vir enige simptome/afwykings wat leer by die enige kind kon/kan beinvloed. Ek het op dieselfde stadium ‘n vriendin gehad wat gestudeer het as Opvoedkundige Sielkundige en ons het altyd heerlik oor leerders se leerprobleme gekommunikeer en inligting/feite uitgeruil. Sy het met een kuiersessie haar jongste boek saam gebring wat sy besig was om deur te werk vir haar kursus…”Reading by the Colours” geskryf deur Irlen. Natuurlik het ek hom net daar geleen en self deurgewerk, maar haar intussen vertel van Johan (nie sy regte naam nie) in my klas. Johan was ‘n uiters intelligente kind, ontsettend sportief, ‘n  briljante skaakspeler, – die volgende jaar Gauteng-Noord Kleure in Skaak verwerf! en ‘n oulik-gebalanseerde kind wat uit ‘n gebalanseerde normale ouerhuis kom. Sy ouers was baie ondersteunend en sou berge vir hul kinders en Onderwysers versit waar en wanneer hulle kon. Ek het dadelik my vriendin dieselfde kuiertjie gevra om Johan te skandeer vir die probleem….met die wete dat ek geweet sy ouers sou net te bly gewees het, alhoewel ek hul toestemming gevra het. Natuurlik was my vriendin geneë met die gedagte omdat dit vir haar studies baie sou beteken het. Uit die skanderingsessie het dit geblyk dat Johan geel as agtergrond verkies om te lees. My vriendin was so gaaf en het vir hom ‘n geel “overlay” gegee wat hy oor sy leesboek/leesmateriaal moes plaas wanneer hy gelees het. Ons kon dadelik ‘n verskil agterkom, maar die verskil was nie drasties nie. Johan is wel later deeglik getoets vir sy probleem. Ek was nie bewus (soos baie ander onnies op daardie stadium) van die sindroom – voordat ek daarvan in tydskrifte gelees het o.a. Huisgenoot – en deur my vriendin meer daarvan gehoor het. Omdat Onderwysers in die hoofstroom nie daarmee te doen kry nie, is hulle nie altyd bewus van enige simptome nie. Sommige Onderwysers se ingesteldheid moet ook soms verander word met probleme rakende leerders, omdat baie Onderwysers in baie gevalle dink dat kinders sommer net “stout” is en probleme afmaak as “luiheid” of “stoutigheid” / “laksheid/lyf-wegsteek” ens. As ‘n kind nie lief vir lees is nie, is daar een van ‘n paar probleme:
1. Die betrokke kind is as ‘n jong/kleiner kind (ouderdom ongeveer 4-8) nooit aan interessante/lekker verhale blootgestel nie, veral tuis en later by die skool waar die skool die ouers “aanvul”. Ek blameer ouer/Onderwyser, maar die ouer se aandeel is die grootste, die skool kan nie “regstel” as daar van die ouer se kant niks gedoen word nie of selfs afbreek wat Juffrou probeer! Slegs hierdie week het ons weer so ‘n geval gehad van ‘n ouer (ma) wat ‘n brief skooltoe gestuur het met ‘n “attitude” wat skrik vir niks, alles in die brief dui daarop dat sy totaal vere voel vir haar kind se skoolonderrig en sy het dit in soveel woorde gesê dit  sodat die kind dieselfde houding inneem! “can’t be bothered”.  Hoe kan die Onderwyser dan ooit wen!
2. Die betrokke kind het heel waarskynlik ‘n oog-probleem. Onderwysers kan nooit verkeerd gaan om net seker te maak nie! Liewer “safe than sorry”! Selfs ouers!! kan maar gerus hul kind teen die ouerdom van 11 neem vir ‘n goeie oogtoets, omdat jou kind se oë nog ontwikkel tot ouderdom van 10! Fokus…as ek reg onthou, ontwikkel nog op daardie stadium. Soms kry jonger kinders ‘n bril slegs vir ‘n tydperk..en sodra hul ouer word…11/12 ens…dan het hulle nie meer die bril nodig nie…
3. Ouers forseer kinders om te lees/koop hul kinders om om te lees, sodat hulle dalk hul kinders kan liefmaak vir lees. (ja!! dit het ek gekry gedurende my skoolhou-tyd in SA! ‘n Twaalfjarige meisie wat vir my vertel het dat sy ‘n aantal boeke moes lees voordat sy per boek betaal was, wat ook haar sakgeld was en as sy dit nie gedoen het nie, was daar probleme! Arme kind! Sy het lees elke minuut gehaat, want haar pa het die boeke gekies! en dan het hy gekies waarvan sy nie gehou het nie…allerhande feite boeke….ver bokant haar belangstellingsveld.  Wat ‘n straf vir so ‘n kind!! en wat ‘n breinlose ouer! – jammer, vir hierdie sterk woord, maar dit maak my die hoenders in as ouers nie vir hulself kan dink wanneer dit by lees/hul kinders kom nie.

Gaan lees gerus wat Juffer hier op haar blog se oor jou kind se leesprobleme.

You can order this book/read inside at Amazon’s site on the given link.

The link will open in a new window.

reading by the colors

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