Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Day 1763 - Dyslexia - Irlen Glasses

It's been a while since I chatted about Darby's dyslexia

Darby's new lenses - welcome to the world of blue
I have written about it a lot.  It's a frustrating fascinating beast that I soooo want to fix but it seems the odds are stacked against us.  I was warned.  There are quite a few other dyslexia parents around me who said that for every exciting breakthrough there'll be another series of setbacks.  They are right.
Our latest management tool has been the Irlen lenses.

I have held off on these lenses for years. Mainly because I felt they were a management tool and I was looking for a cure.  I guess I didn't want to "give in" to the challenge and I thought these were "giving in".  I may have been wrong.

We've had so many different descriptions of what dyslexia actually is.  I am thinking that dyslexia is more of a word to describe a bunch of visual challenges rather than a scientific diagnosis in its own right.  I have been reading and reading and reading and the more I read the more confused I get.

Our most recent assessment has seen Darby being treated for Irlen Syndrome (named after founder Helen Irlen).  It's a perceptual processing disorder where the brain has problems processing visual information.  It seems to runs hand-in-hand with dyslexia.  I can't work out if it is dyslexia or whether it's an add on.  I am so confused.

Image Source
An example of the way dyslexia affects reading
Symptoms of Irlen Syndrome will often include:

  • Print looks different 
  • Environment looks different
  • Slow or inefficient reading
  • Poor comprehension
  • Eye strain
  • Fatigue
  • headaches
  • Difficulty with math computation
  • Difficulty copying
  • Poor sports performance
  • Poor depth perception
  • Low motivation
  • Low self esteem

Which are basically all of the symptoms of dyslexia as well.  Darby has all of them (although he is quite good at sport).

One of the big things that we discovered is that people who have this can be bothered by glare, fluorescent lights, bright lights and sunlight.  So there is a large light sensitivity component.

Hmmmm.  Now we're getting somewhere.

So how do we treat this?

The Irlen method uses a colour-correction tool - coloured overlays and filters to improve the brain's ability to process visual information.  Basically kids are provided with precision-tinted coloured glasses which changes the way they see things.  It takes some of the pressure off their eyes and can improve fluency, comfort, comprehension and attention.

Darby was tested and the colour that best works for him is a deep blue.  He's been wearing his glasses for one week (reading, writing, white board, TV and Xbox) and already his headaches have been cut in half.  He has also said he can now read quicker because he's not stalling on each word but rather reading more fluently.

Obviously there is a confidence issue associated with wearing these odd glasses to school.  His look so dark they're somewhat sun-glassy in appearance.  We talked him through it and chatted with his teachers.

Red Foo - Image Source

It turns out that thanks to Red Foo, wearing big framed coloured glasses is cool! Darby hasn't missed a beat at school.  He has embraced his new eye wear and the other kids just accept it.  More than that, they think he is cooler than ever.

I hesitate to say that we've found the answer and that Darby will now magically be able to read and write at level.  We've been here before and our excitement has been short lived. But it seems we've taken a step in the right direction.

 The bottom line is that it is what it is.  We find ways around it and we just manage with what we've got.  Darby has a gazillion strengths.  Dyslexia (or Irlen Syndrome) is not what defines him.  It's the challenge that will no doubt make him stronger in the end.

Is anyone else out there got dyslexia in their world?

Have you gone down the coloured lenses route?

Anyone else finding their inner Foo? 


Don't forget the super duper competition I've got going on. 

You could win a six month supply of Pantene hair care products (of your choice).  Check out this link for the details. 


  1. Glad he's taking it in his stride. Tom Cruise was dyslexic but I guess Redfoo has more going on for the younger demographic...

  2. That sounds really promising! I hope Darby continues to see an improvement. And isn't it interesting that in one or two generations we've gone from glasses making you a social pariah, so them being incredibly cool. My daughter's eyes are perfect but she keeps begging me for fake glasses.

  3. No official dyslexia here, but my kids have a tendency to put things backwards, so they may be tested. They seem ok with all the other traits though.
    I guess if the glasses make him look cool, and improve his confidence, then that's got to be a good thing.

  4. My mother in law has dyslexia. I've never had it in my own family. The glasses sound great and hopefully Darby will improve. :)

  5. I'm a bit in the dark about dyslexia but this was quite an enlightening read. Sounds like he's not letting it get to him, yay!

  6. That sounds like really great progress. I am so glad to hear about this and to hear Darby's life has been made a tiny bit easier. Two members of my family (now adults) have dyslexia (one confirmed and one suspected). I have never heard of Irlen's syndrome, but it sounds as though you could be onto something. My heart goes out to you doing all of this research to help make life easier for your little one. Visiting via #teamIBOT


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