Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dyslexia and Meares-Irlen Syndrome

I have been reading a few articles on dyslexia where it says that some children see words jumping around thus making it difficult for children to read. Not one of my students had complained about words jumping around.

Recently I chanced upon a few parents of dyslexic children who said that their children have used some special glasses which help their children to read. I wrote to a few of the parents and the following is what they said:

1. Yes, my daughter has benefited immensely. She really struggled at school & found learning to read a real mystery. She experienced regular migraines too, double vision & we discovered that the words on the page would overlap & move about, disappear off the page as she was trying to read. With blue filter lenses, her double vision became more stable & words clearer etc & her headaches less. I started a group to raise awareness & have met many people who have found lenses very beneficial. There are some people who do not find them helpful though too. I would always advise a person to go to a reputable optician or specialist because as you say there are some unscrupulous people out there, especially where dyslexia is involved who are just in it to exploit people. I have a colleague who is an optician called John (name changed by me), ( you will find him on my friends list) he specialises in use of colour lenses, I'm sure he would be delighted if you sent him a friend request because he is passionate about dyslexia too & I think it is great to meet other like minded people & share our experiences.

2. Hi, Mary (name changed by me) went for a colour sensitivity test about Sept last year and from this it was clear that she could read 'easier' with a pink coloured overlay, she said that it stopped her letters jumping. She used an overlay for a few weeks and then went for a more specific test at the hospital which pinpointed the exact shade that gave her the most benefit and this was turned into a prescription pair of glasses (as she already used glasses). She finally got those in Feb - there were 1 or 2 mix ups, but she says that they help her a lot.

3. Hello nice to meet you, my son says of the glasses that he finds it very hard to read anything that is black words on white paper but with the glasses he says the words stay still, seem larger and much easier to read. When he fist put them on it was lovely to watch his face light up and he was instantly able to read small text that he would have struggled with before. They also provided him with a card explaining that he had to wear the glasses and they were not sunglasses in case he had trouble with the teachers at school, only one teacher told him to remove the glasses. Unfortunately they were not free and with the test to find the right colour mix they cost nearly £175 !!! But he is very pleased with them and they do make a difference.

Well, the above are three parents who have vouched that those special glasses are useful for their children to read. But hold on before you rush out and buy these special glasses.

I decided to look it up in the internet and came up with the following :

Helen Irlen noted in the early eighties that coloured filters could enhance reading ability in children with reading problems. Olive Meares had observed that some people with dyslexia complained of distortion of print when reading. In recognition of their findings we now call these visual distortions Meares-Irlen Syndrome (MIS).

Meares – Irlen Syndrome is a form of visual stress which leads to difficulties with fine vision tasks such as reading. This eye condition was identified in 1980 by an American psychologist and although the condition is not yet fully understood, it is known to affect reading ability.
The condition affects about 50% of dyslexics, as well as epileptics, migraine sufferers, people with ME and MS, and others. Like dyslexia, it is not curable but can be treated, and significant improvements can be made. For dyslexics, Meares – Irlen can often be the cause of reading difficulty.

The symptoms will have been present throughout your life but some people experience symptoms after a minute of reading, others find the symptoms take longer to appear. The degree of symptoms can also vary from person to person with more marked symptoms creating barriers to successful reading.

General Problems May Include
• Strain working under bright lighting
• Difficulty finding comfortable lighting
• Glare from bright objects
• Eye strain
• Headaches from reading, working at a computer, watching TV, supermarket lighting.

Symptoms Resulting from Reading may include:
• Poor comprehension
• Skips words or lines
• Reads slowly or hesitantly
• Loses place
• Eye Strain

When reading you may see the words:
• Jumping off the page
• Spinning
• Moving around
• Not staying where they are supposed to

I copied the above from the following web sites :

Warning: I regret that I cannot accept responsibility for the sites above or the information found there. When I get more readers who write about the benefits of these special glasses I will include them in my blog.

Meanwhile like it is mentioned above, not all dyslexics require these glasses. Check with your dyslexic child if words seem to be jumping around before you decide to invest your money in these glasses. I have already mentioned that my dyslexic students who had been certified as dyslexic by experts needed no such glasses to read well. They just needed to be instructed in a manner appropriate for them.

For Lesson 31 click here:


Unknown said...

I have come across this before. I have also known people that get different coloured plastic sheets to put over the page they are reading. I experimented with it and found that blue or yellow sheets seem to make a slight improvement. Less eye strain and better concentration, but it was not so significant a change that I continued for long. One of the Dyslexic pages I use to read in England allowed you to change the background colour.

Another point that is worth making is the font used will help the Dyslexic reader. San Serif fonts and unadorned fonts are easier to read. Arial is a good font.

Luqman Michel said...

Thank you for your comments my friend.
Those are valuable comments for other dyslexic readers. I can appreciate a little about coloured lenses as I can hardly read when I write with red ink on blue back ground. As such some people may not be able to see black ink on white paper as the dyslexic say.

Will Fox said...

Heya (: I am a major dyslexic with a miriad of other specialnesses. I would just like to point out, in a post on the wall of 'Dyslexia Action', you claimed that if Dyslexia was thought of as a learning dysability then it would mean all of the US population would have a learning disability. This is not true.

You need to appreciate that people can have more than one condition, and also in my opinion the vast majority of people diagnosed don't have dyslexia in any great degree. But some do, for example, I am still unable to remember the months of the year, the alphabet and cannot visualise a calender. I would classify myself as 'fairly dyslexic', but I have friends who are extremly dyslexic. For example, one friend who was barely able to read up until the age of 9, this you cannot deny is a learning disability.

Also, as a dyslexic, who is friends with many dyslexics, and is from a family of dyslexics, most important thing to do with us is to reassure us that sequences mean nothing, so the inability to learn them is not a huge disadvantage :) oh and that on average we are more intelligent than your average joe ;)

ta (:

Luqman Michel said...

Hi Will,I believe you miss understood me in my post on 'Dyslexic Action'. What I had said was that articles today are starting to say that dyslexics comprise 20% of the population. Earlier it was 5 to 7 %. It changed to 5 to 10 %. Then 10 to 20% and now it said more than 20%. This was in an article on 'Dyslexia Test'.
There are many learning disabilities and one of them is dyslexia. If dyslexia is 20% of the population what would be the % of people with learning disability in US?. What I mean is , do not put too much weight to statistics by people who want to sell their wares.
Please read the post on Dyslexia Action again. Do introduce your friends to my blog. Thank you for your comment.

Anonymous said...

With regard to the effective use of coloured lenses i would like to add that the dyslexic students i have met who have found coloured lenses beneficial have been able to read to some greater or lesser degree, however, generally they have found wearing the lenses can improve their concentration levels, can stop or improve the number of visual distortions they experience, enable reading & writing to become a more comfortable , pleasurable activity, reading age levels may increase & general health & quality of life may improve due to reduction in headaches etc. I think the coloured lenses are preferable to coloured overlays because I find overlays can only be used for reading whereas the glasses can be used for reading , writing & everyday situations. It is a great pity that coloured lenses are not more readily available through the NHS in the UK. A normal routine eye examniantion does not test for visual perceptual difficulties therefore it is possible to have perfect acuity & Meares Irlen.
I've also found changing the colour of paper, type of font, unjustifying text, double spacing text worksheets , alter the tint of computer screen,
and altering the room lighting can make a huge difference.
With regard to statisitcs, whilst i accept there is money to be made from dyslexia I would argue that also applies to many aspects of life. Sadly , money makes the world go round. But there are many genuine people out there who are passionate & doing their utmost to support those with additional needs.
I have worked in mainstream school & I think there are many pupils with dyslexic characteristics who go unrecognised & unidentified, I think such statistics can be useful to highlight the difficulties expereinced by some pupils & provide vital evidence for the need to change the way we teach our children & improve the education system as a whole.
We need to teach children the way they can learn.

Luqman Michel said...

Thank you for your very valuable input. I got to know about Irlen syndrome through you and two others on face book.
I completely agree with you about dyslexics who go unrecognised and unidentified. If they are identified at an early age and taught in a way suitable for them illiteracy will be greatly reduced.

Melanie said...

My son was diagnosed as severely Dyslexic and as having Irlen Syndrome. (Not surprising as my husband has the same issues.)

I was just about to get him fitted with coloured lenses when I discovered the Alison Lawson Centre.

I took my son to one of the centres, and found that both issues were being caused by his eyes and the way the messages were reaching his brain (affecting 40% of the Dyslexic community).

After 10 sessions he no longer had any issues with learning, and is racing past the other children in his class.

The sessions cost a lot more than the glasses ($1500 instead of $300), but it was worth it to have the problem fixed.

My husband had coloured lenses, and he was a test case for a lot of different treatments for Dyslexia.

None of it worked half as well as this treatment has worked for our son.

The eye is no different to any other muscle. It needs to be strengthened, rather than given a crutch.

Luqman Michel said...

You are one of a few who has said that the glasses are not necessary. There are a few who go to the extent of saying that it is just a money making gimmick.I am still learning about this Irlen syndrome thing. Hope more readers can contribute their findings on this issue.

I will check out the centre you talk about.
Thank you

jennifer said...

I would recommod check a webside there are necessary to people with irlen syndrome I have dyslexia and Irlen syndrome I have a blog too

Don't called me stupid

Luqman Michel said...

Thank you for your comment Jennifer.You have both dyslexia and Irlen syndrome. Yes, I understand. Unfortunately many people are including symptoms of Irlen syndrome under dyslexia which I believe is quite wrong. All my students to date do not experience what those with Irlen syndrome experience.

I just visited you blog "Don't called me stupid". Unfortunately there appears to be no articles in it.
Thank you for sharing.