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IRLEN SYNDROME & VISUAL STRESS Moira Thomson – Irlen screener Liz McKelvie – Irlen consultant.

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Presentation on theme: "IRLEN SYNDROME & VISUAL STRESS Moira Thomson – Irlen screener Liz McKelvie – Irlen consultant."— Presentation transcript:

1 IRLEN SYNDROME & VISUAL STRESS Moira Thomson – Irlen screener Liz McKelvie – Irlen consultant

2 IRLEN SYNDROME VISUAL STRESS Affects 12 – 14% of general population 46% of Individuals with learning differences 31% of Individuals with ADD/HD Challenging Behaviour 50% of Individuals with Dyslexia 33% of Individuals on the Autistic Spectrum Traumatic head injuries and stroke victims other Medical Conditions – epilepsy, asthma, migraine

3 OLIVE MEARES/HELEN IRLEN MEARES (1980) – New Zealand Noted that some dyslexic subjects reported visual distortions when reading. IRLEN – California Found that distortions could be alleviated by the use of coloured overlays. Went on to develop Irlen precision filters.

4 Irlen Syndrome/Meares Irlen Syndrome/Scotopic Sensitivity /Visual Stress A problem with the way the brain interprets the information being sent by the eyes – due to light. Problems with pattern e.g. repeated black lines on white page Hyper-sensitivity to light –especially flickering and glare

5 IRLEN SYNDROME Irlen Syndrome /Meares-Irlen is recognised as a protected characteristic (disability) under the 2010 Equality Act Most Irlen sufferers are unaware that the print or background may not be clear or stable. They often assume that everyone else sees a page of print in the same way.

6 IRLEN OVERLAYS/LENSES Over 5,000 U.S. School Districts use the Irlen Screening Method Approx 100,000 adults and children wear Irlen Filter Lenses 90% of those with Irlen Syndrome can benefit from the Irlen Method.

7 EAST RENFREWSHIRE PILOT 70 Pupils aged 7 to 17 – assessed as dyslexic - 4 Schools – 1 Sec, 3 Primary 13 pupils – no Irlen identified 24 difficulties – slight to moderate 28 difficulties – moderate to severe 5 difficulties – top end of severe Reading speed was tested before & after Irlen screening.

8 EAST RENFREWSHIRE PILOT Reading speed 3 Pupils gained between 80% – 160% 1 Pupil gained between 50% - 80% 10 Pupils gained between 20% - 50% 20 Pupils gained between 10% - 20% 12 Pupils gained between 5% and 10% 14 Pupils gained between 0% and 5% 10 pupils reading speeds decreased

9 IRLEN & WILKINS COLORIMETER OPTOMETRISTS AND ORGANISATIONS OTHER THEN AN IRLEN CLINIC Have no connection with Helen Irlen or the Irlen Institute Developed from independent research into colour and vision Have a different range of tinted filters and cannot supply Irlen Lenses

10 IRLEN SYMPTOMS FIVE SUB GROUPS Light sensitivity Inefficient reading/slow reading rate Attention and concentration Reading discomfort Environmental misperceptions

11 LIGHT SENSITIVITY SUB-GROUP Glare when looking through fog or haze Sensitive to the brightness of light Sensitive to glare Sensitive to fluorescent lighting Get dizzy/restless in fluorescent light Develop headaches in fluorescent light Sensitive to bright sunlight Get headaches/dizzy/nausea going from dark to light They prefer to read in dim light For these people the world Is always too bright PEOPLE OF THIS GROUP EXPERIENCE

12 PRINT MOVEMENT AND PRINT RECOGNITION DIFFICULTY SUB-GROUP Letters move. dance, vibrate, pulsate, jiggle, and shift as they read. Letters reverse themselves or move around as they read. Letters tilt, stretch, merge and overlap as they read. Words collapse into each other. Words turn around, move or run around on the page. Surrounding words refuse to stay in place. Words on the surrounding page, not being read, distorted and move around. Words run together and overlap each other as they read. “CLASSIC DYSLEXIA” GROUP A PAGE IN THEIR WORLD LOOKS LIKE THIS PEOPLE OF THIS GROUP EXPERIENCE

13 BACKGROUND REACTION SUB- GROUP Indistinct letters as white background eats into them After they have read for a while the background swallows up the black letters. White washout effect (background eats the word and letters, and tends to become dominant) The background of the page flickers, twinkles, flashes or glows. Letters and punctuation disappear as they read. The whiteness of the page gets so bright that they can't see the words. A PAGE IN THEIR WORLD LOOKS LIKE THIS PEOPLE OF THIS GROUP: EXPERIENCE

14 Symptoms – Signs in Reading Misreads words Skips words or lines Reads slowly or hesitantly Takes breaks Loses place Shades text, reads in dim light Weak comprehension at times Avoids reading

15 Symptoms – Complaints while Reading Strain and fatigue Tired or sleepy Headaches or nausea Fidgety or restless ‘Bored’ / unable to concentrate

16 Symptoms – Writing Characteristics Copying inaccurate/incomplete Unequal spacing Writing up or downhill Inconsistent spelling Fatigue – ‘sore’ hand/wrist

17 Symptoms – Other Characteristics Strain/fatigue from computer use Difficulty reading music Apparently careless maths errors Misaligned numbers in columns Attainment does not reflect ability Poor return for huge effort made

18 Symptoms – Depth Perception Clumsiness Difficulty catching balls Difficulty judging distances Some spatial difficulties in Maths Additional caution necessary while crossing a road or driving


20 USE OF IRLEN FILTERS For some, the impact of the overlay is immediate and striking. For others, using the overlay is better than not using it, but improvement is slow. Some people use an overlay for a while, then reject it as they are ‘cured’.

21 BeforeAfter

22 IRLEN SCREENERS Trained to identify Irlen Syndrome in clients – various ages Assessment identifies the areas of difficulty and the severity of the difficulty Work with overlays to alleviate distortions on the printed page Make referrals to Irlen Diagnosticians

23 IRLEN DIAGNOSTICIAN Works with clients to eliminate all distortions on the page and discomfort from the environment.

24 Irlen diagnostician LIZ MCKELVIE IRLEN 0141 270 8044

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