Ironically, it was whilst I was discussing my dyslexia assessment with a local college, that I was introduced to Irlen - visual stress. It appears that sometimes many people are in fact misdiagnosed with dyslexia, when in fact they have Irlen, or both - of course that's me!
It was something I had never considered, that perhaps people around me, don’t visualise the world the same way as I do. Nevertheless being a sufferer, and having supported children in the classroom who complain about fluorescent lighting ,fidget, have poor comprehension, struggle with concentration and complain when they cannot read text on white slides; I can testify that it does exist.
I will never forget helping a fourteen year old student who kept on turning his eyes from a grid on the page. I asked him what was he seeing when he looked at the page. He answered, “I can see the lines lifting off the page. I can also see stars falling from the sky. Can you see them Miss? To which I answered, “I can’t, but I really believe you can”. I just had to become a qualified Irlen Screener.
What is Irlen?
Irlen Syndrome is a visual perceptual problem, that can affect children and adults of all ages.
It is not usually identified by standard visual and medical examinations, or by educational and psychological assessments.
How does it affect learning?
It causes reading and learning difficulties, light sensitivity, headaches, migraines, and problems with depth perception. Consequently it can lead to stress, anxiety, low self esteem, and underachievement.
Who is affected?
Up to 12% of the general population
Up to 47% of those who are dyslexic, autistic, suffer from learning difficulties or have ADHD
Many individuals affected by head trauma, strokes, whiplash, chronic fatigue or headaches and migraine.
What are the Symptoms?
Discomfort in fluorescent lights, glare, bright lights, sunlight, or lights at night.
Poor progress in reading, grades do not reflect effort and knowledge, avoids reading, or does not read for pleasure.
Problems with clarity or stability of print and/or background can affect reading of words, numbers, or musical notes. Problems with speed, accuracy and comprehension spoil enjoyment.
Poor Attention & Concentration
Easily distracted and have problems starting tasks, staying on task, and may become restless, fidgety, or anxious.
Discomfort or Fatigue
Feeling strained, tired, or sleepy when reading and during other academic activities.
Headaches & Physical Symptoms
Headaches, stomach aches or migraines, which do not have a medical cause, from reading, homework, computers, or other activities.
Poor Depth Perception
Problems accurately judging distance or spatial relationships. Difficulty with escalators, stairs, ball sports, or driving.