Wednesday, March 6, 2013

What About Irlen Syndrome?

There were many questions on Irlen Syndrome during our Elluminate session on Dyslexia last month, and Ruth has take the time to do a quick report on this condition that effects more than half of people with Dyslexia.  HCOS has about a dozen teachers who are able to identify Irlen, so if you would like to be assessed, please contact your LS consultant via your teacher or visit   Thanks again, Ruth, for taking the time to do this research!  Carmen


1.    Many people with Irlen Syndrome have been misdiagnosed as dyslexic, having ADD/ADHD, or as slow learners.

2.    They are often seen as underachievers, or as having attitudinal, behavioral, or motivational problems.

3.    Reading may be slow and inefficient, or there may be poor comprehension, strain, or fatigue.

4.    Irlen Syndrome can affect attention span, listening, energy level, work production, and mental health.

5.    Individuals with Irlen Syndrome are often unaware that they perceive the printed page and/or their environment differently and that they are putting extra energy and effort into reading and perception.

6.    Irlen Syndrome occurs on a continuum from mild to extremely severe.

7.     Irlen Syndrome is a perceptual disorder that is caused by sensitivity to light.

8.    Incidence studies suggest that 46% of those identified with reading problems, dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, or learning difficulties suffer from Ilren Syndrome.

9.    Irlen Syndrome is a visual-perceptual problem which, most likely originates either in the retina of the eye or in the visual cortex in the brain.

1.    Light sensitivity i.e. bothered by glare, florescent lights, bright lights, and sunlight.

2.    Physical symptoms such as feeling tired, sleepy, restlessness, dizzy, or having difficulty staying focused, especially with bright or fluorescent lights.

3.    Reading problems such as poor comprehension, misreads words, problems tracking from line to line, loses place, and skips words or line.

4.    Discomfort such as strain or fatigue, headaches or nausea, fidgety or restless, eyes that hurt or become watery.

5.    Depth perception such as clumsiness, difficulty catching a ball, difficulty judging distances.

6.    Distortions i.e. words on a page lack clarity or stability.

What Helps:
1.    Reduce glare: use dull coloured paper for reading and writing.  Never read in bright light, florescent or sunlight.

2.    Wear tinted lenses to reduce some of the visual distortions and to make the eyes “calmer”.

3.    Use LCD computer screen as opposed to CRT screens, which flicker.

4.    Adjust website text size using the Internet Browser settings.

5.    Use a bookmark when reading.

6.    Read for short periods with breaks rather than trying to read continuously over a long period.

Treatment and Results:
1.    The screening for Irlen Syndrome involves challenging the visual system to determine the severity of the symptoms.  Colour overlays are used to alter the contrast between the words and the page.  Once the proper colour combination has been determined, overlays of that colour are placed over the page while reading.  Tinted Irlen filters are recommended for most people.

2.    Although the treatment is simple, the results are often dramatic. The use of colour filters will allow a person with Irlen Syndrome to see the words on a page clearly.  This allows for quick and dramatic improvement of reading skills, and will enhance academic performance and self esteem.

Monday, February 4, 2013

My Experience with Behaviour – a Personal Story

Ruth's Reflection#6 

My second son’s birth was premature by two months.  He weighed 3lbs. 4oz. and remained in the hospital until he had gained weight to 5lbs.  My doctor reassured me that he would do just fine, as he was a fighter. While I waited for him to come home, I researched premature births and their effects on children and discovered that “preemies” have a tendency towards ADHD.  Generally, my son’s developmental stages were slightly delayed, but by age 5 he had caught up to his peers. 

I began to notice defiant, strong-willed behavior as he approached the “terrible twos”.  He was much more difficult to manage than his older brother, and much more difficult than my friends’ children.  He challenged me every step of the way.  Most days I would fall into bed at the end of the day, exhausted and down on myself for being the “wicked witch of the west” with my children.  I was a stay-at-home mom and wanted to be the best mom possible but often felt like a failure.

In those days, fortunately, I found an expert on exactly what I was dealing with.  I discovered books and broadcasts by a doctor named James Dobson. He described these unique individuals this way: “Just as surely as some children are naturally compliant… there are others who seem to be looking for a fight upon exit from the womb.  Such children come into the world smoking a cigar and barking orders in the delivery room…” However, he also writes, “ It is my firm conviction that the strong-willed child usually possesses more creative potential and strength of character than his compliant siblings, provided his parents can help him channel his impulses and gain control of his rampaging will”.

Dr. Dobson, in his book The Strong-Willed Child, wrote about the importance of shaping, and never breaking the child’s will.  He suggested that when a child behaves in ways that are disrespectful, his motive is to verify the stability of the boundaries that have been set up.  He is looking for leadership that holds firm and is confident.  His greatest security is found in a structured environment where the rights of other people and his own are protected by definite boundaries. 

So how is “shaping the will” accomplished? 

First: Define the Boundaries Before They Are Enforced 
Establish reasonable expectations and boundaries in advance so that the child knows what is and what is not acceptable behavior before he is held responsible for the rules. Ask the child to explain to you what the boundary is, so that you know they clearly understand.

Second: When Defiantly Challenged, Respond with Confident Decisiveness
Most children will assault the authority of their elders and challenge their right to lead.  A little child will consider his parents’ wishes and defiantly chose to disobey.  It is extremely important for the adult to win this challenge decisively and confidently.  An example was with my son’s afternoon “nap”.  I had established a rule that after lunch both sons would spend an hour in their bedrooms with the door closed.  They could read or play quietly, but they were not to come out until I opened their door.  My eldest son complied, happily went to his room, and later I would often find him fast asleep.  My youngest son believed it was in his power to renegotiate the terms of this rule every single day.  He used all of the renegotiating skills at his disposal at the time.  He shouted, “NO”, he screamed, he yelled, he sat on the floor and grabbed onto stationary objects, he kicked, he stretched out his arms to prevent passing through the doorway, and once inside, he pounded on the door.  This battle went on each day for months.  When he finally stopped fighting me and there was peace with this issue, we could move on to the next issue.

Third: Distinguish between Willful Defiance and Childish Irresponsibility
Forgetting to put away toys or forgetting to feed the dog are behaviors typical of childhood and should be handled with patience.  Be gentle as you teach the child to do better.  Continued failure to respond to instruction, however, requires appropriate consequences that fit the situation i.e. paying for an items that has been abused, or being deprived of its use for a time. 

Fourth: Reassure and Teach After the Confrontation is Over
After a time of conflict, the child may want to be hugged and reassured.  This may be a good time to speak words of love and encouragement to the child and to talk about what happened and why. 

Fifth: Avoid Impossible Demands
Ensure that the child is fully capable of delivering what is expected and required. 

Sixth: Let Love Be Your Guide
A healthy relationship is characterized by genuine love and affection, even though parental errors are inevitable. 

Dr. Dobson suggests that often the strong-willed child ends up in leadership as an adult.  This has been very true of my son.  He is now 32 years of age and is currently successfully managing a business.  He has had several jobs in the past where he soon rose in the ranks as leader over others.  I am grateful that in spite of our rough beginnings as mother and son, our relationship is strong and healthy.  While he was growing up, I would often say that he would make us proud one day, and he certainly has!!

In summation, Dr. Dobson wrote,
1.    You are not to blame for the temperament with which your child was born.  He is simply a tough kid to handle and your task is to rise to the challenge.

2.    He is in greater danger because of his inclination to test the limits and scale the walls.  Your utmost diligence and wisdom will be required to deal with him.

3.    If you fail to understand his lust for power and independence, you can exhaust your resources and bog down in guilt.  It will benefit no one.

4.    If it is not already too late, take charge of your babies.  Hold tight to the reins of authority in the early days, and build an attitude of respect during your brief window of opportunity. 

5.    Stay on your child’s team, even when it appears to be a losing team.  You’ll have the rest of your life to enjoy mutual fellowship.

6.    Give him time to find himself, even if he appears not to be searching.

7.    Hold your child before the Lord throughout their years.  The God who made your child will hear your petitions.  He has promised to do so.  After all, He loves them more than you do.


Books referenced are written by Dr. James Dobson
The Strong-Willed Child
Dare to Discipline
Parenting Isn’t for Cowards