What is Irlen Syndrome?

Irlen Syndrome, also known as Scotopic Sensitivity is a perceptual problem that keeps many people from reading effectively, efficiently, or not at all. Until now, it has baffled educators and medical scientists because it is undetected by standard visual, educational and medical exams.

Individuals with Irlen Syndrome perceive the printed page differently and must constantly adapt to distortions from print or the background. They may suffer from slow or inefficient reading, poor comprehension, strain or fatigue. It can affect attention span, energy level, motivation, handwriting, and depth perception. Irlen Syndrome sufferers may be seen as underachievers with behaviour, attitude, or motivational problems. It is a complex and variable condition sometimes found to co-exist with learning disabilities.

The Irlen Method as a Treatment

Irlen Syndrome was first identified by Educational Psychologist, Helen Irlen, while she was working with adult learners in California in the early 1980’s. She observed that some of her students read more easily when they covered a page of print with a coloured overlay. The patented treatment method uses specially formulated coloured pages of plastic (known as overlays) to reduce or eliminate perception difficulties.

Ms Irlen documented years of observations in a book, Reading by the Colors, published by Avery Publishing in 1991. Her discovery stimulated the interest of many educational and medical researchers, who continued to further research this phenomenon. While exact causes are not fully understood, it appears that the colour facilitates processing by altering the timing of visual inputs to the brain. Presently, medical research is being conducted at various universities worldwide. Irlen’s method of treating this syndrome is now used to help more than 80,000 people in 36 countries.

Where can I find help?

In the United States and worldwide, there are many certified Irlen Screeners and Irlen Diagnosticians. These individuals are dedicated professionals – teachers and psychologists who share many years of experience in primary and secondary schools. Listed alongside are many of the symptoms associated with Irlen Syndrome. If you or someone you know suffers from any of these symptoms or has unexplained reading problems, you may want to want to contact an Irlen Screener or Diagnostician.

These videos give an indication of what your child or you may be seeing when they attempt to read and answer a few questions.

More examples of Irlen distortions.

Contact KL3 for a screening test for Irlen sensitivity.

Irlen screening and diagnostics are now available from KL3 – Keys to Listening Learning and Literacy.

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