Why aren’t coloured sunglasses enough?
Research has demonstrated that the colour of the Irlen tint must be precise to be effective. A colour that is not quite correct can be ineffective and the wrong colour can cause an increase in symptoms. Sunglasses will simply reduce glare and do not specifically remove the particular wavelengths of light that cause the symptoms of Irlen Syndrome. The Irlen lenses are specific whereas sunglasses are not.
What signs of Irlen Syndrome are present when reading?
Signs of Irlen Syndrome when reading include: slower reading fluency, poor word recognition, difficulty keeping position, poor comprehension, lack of concentration, moving closer to or further away from the page, reading from awkward angles, cannot sit still, eye strain, rubbing eyes, blinking, squinting, opening eye wider, shading the page, frustration, reading avoidance, yawning, complaining of headaches, fatiguing easily.
If my child is a good reader can they still have Irlen Syndrome?
Yes, Irlen Syndrome can still be present in good readers. In these cases, signs may include a reluctance to read, the need to go back and re-read what they have already read, an inability to read for a long time before getting a headache or sore eyes. Their comprehension may not reflect their reading ability or they may even go to sleep while reading.
Why is my child a good reader but has poor comprehension?
A child with Irlen Syndrome may read fluently and accurately yet more of their energy and effort will be directed at reducing the brightness of the page, maintaining print clarity and trying to keep their position while reading. They are using an excessive amount of energy to maintain their concentration and their brain does not have enough energy then to remember what they have read, therefore their comprehension can be affected.
Will I still need to use an overlay even with my lenses?
In most cases the overlay is not required when the Irlen Spectral Filters are worn. In some severe cases, they are still needed, but only when reading on white paper.
Will my Irlen Spectral Filters be the same colour as my overlay?
The Irlen overlay is just an approximation of what tint colour will be required to be worn as Irlen Spectral Filter Lenses. The Irlen Spectral Filter tint may be similar or very different to the overlay colour. It is important to be assessed by an Irlen Diagnostician to determine the precise tint colour required to assist with a person's perceptual issues.
If overlays work, why do I need Irlen Spectral Filters?
Irlen overlays reduce the reflection and glare on the page. The overlays involve reflected light and filter out specific colours reflected off the white page. They do not reduce the amount of light entering a person's eyes and can therefore cause the brain to be overstimulated. Irlen Spectral Filters involve refracted light and block those specific colours from entering the eyes by refraction. The filters have a calming effect on the brain resulting in reduced eye strain, fatigue, headaches & distortions.
Why has my child’s school not mentioned Irlen Syndrome?
Some schools do preliminary Irlen testing on students who are having difficulty with reading, concentration, behaviour because they have a teacher who is a trained Irlen Screener. Some schools have come across enough children to identify some of the symptoms in children who are having learning difficulties.
Your school may not have mentioned it because there aren't many children identified at the school, or it may be that Irlen Syndrome is not included in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). Irlen Syndrome is often overlooked by professionals such as speech pathologists, psychologists or Occupational therapists who come into the schools to do assessments.
Why has my child’s teacher not recommended Irlen Syndrome?
Some teachers know about Irlen Syndrome because they have come across it either through having children in their class diagnosed with the condition or their own child may be diagnosed with Irlen Syndrome. Other teachers still have not heard about Irlen Syndrome or come across it in their classrooms. Part of the reason is because the Department of School Education does not mention it during teacher training. Other teachers know about Irlen Syndrome, but are discouraged by the Department of School Education from recommending testing to parents for reasons unknown.
Why do fluorescent lights cause difficulties for people with Irlen Syndrome?
People with Irlen Syndrome are sensitive to the flickering created by fluorescent lights. Fluorescent lights are extremely bright compared to natural light and incandescent lights, and this creates an overstimulation of the visual pathways in some people with Irlen Syndrome. The flickering light frequencies cause the brain to become overstimulated resulting in increased signs & symptoms of Irlen Syndrome.
Why isn’t Irlen Syndrome tested for in schools?
The Departments of Education will recognise Irlen Syndrome as a dysfunction that may require accommodations such as coloured paper, natural lighting and not fluorescent lighting but they do not have the qualified staff to test for Irlen Syndrome.
Can Irlen Spectral Filters help children with Autism?
Irlen Spectral Filters can help some children with Autism and Asperger Syndrome. The Irlen Filters are a piece of the puzzle but they are not a cure. The filters help with:
Sensory Overload caused by bright lights, fluorescent lights, and sunlight. Lighting is stressful and this can result in behaviours to filter out the light, poor eye contact, and physical symptoms such as anxiety or headaches.
Environmental Distortions where the individual sees the world in a distorted fashion. Objects are blurry, moving, changing, and can disappear. People may look frightening, stairs may look like a slide without steps, and walls and floors may swing and sway. Misperceptions can cause difficulties with sustained attention, eye contact, gross and small motor coordination, ability to interpret facial expressions and poor social skills.
Print Distortions make learning or reading difficult. The individual may have good or even advanced reading skills but has trouble with reading comprehension or experiences strain and fatigue when reading or doing other activities
How common is Irlen Syndrome?
Irlen Syndrome affects approximately:
12-14% of the general population46% of individuals with reading and learning difficulties33% with ADHD33% with autism55% with head injuries, concussion or whiplash
My child has just been assessed with a Learning Disability. Why was Irlen Syndrome not suggested as a possible cause?
School counsellors are not trained to identify the symptoms of Irlen Syndrome and are only required to refer parents to health professionals such as psychologists, GPs, optometrists etc.