What do the Schools Say About the Irlen Method?
“We trained 15 intervention teachers as Irlen Screeners for the Santa Maria-Bonita School District. Most screenings are completed as part of the Student Success Process, and students are provided with the necessary overlays. I have supported the Irlen Method since 1990 when I was trained as a screener.”
Patricia J. Schwarzkopf, Santa Maria-Bonita School District, California
“As the Learning Strategy Coordinator at Stanford University, I have been interested and involved for over 30 years with a number of methodologies for enhancing the student's process of learning. Since my initial training as an Irlen Screener, I have used the Irlen questions and have identified dozens and dozens of students who have gone on to use the Irlen lenses. One example is a second year medical student in the Medical Program at Stanford University who was a slow reader and always got headaches while reading. With her Irlen overlay, her reading speed immediately increased from 145 words per minute to 190 words per minute with comprehension.”
Sue Willows-Raznikov, Learning Strategies Coordinator, Department of Teaching and Learning at the School of Medicine, Stanford University, California
“I have been an Irlen Screener for almost five years, yet have believed in the Irlen method for at least a decade. I have screened over 100 people, including public school students and many of their parents. Vast improvements in reading fluency are common. The teachers at Ocean View have been continually impressed with the immediate improvement they notice when students use their overlays. They have come to trust the Irlen method.”
Dr. Daniel C. Parsons, Resource Specialist, East Whittier City School District, California
“The Irlen Method has been an amazingly simple and effective way to diagnose and provide support for students who struggle with reading. We have found that students who can be helped in no other way have success with using this method. I would consider this an essential component to a successful program providing a comprehensive program of reading support and instruction.”
Dr. Robert J. Van Maren, Superintendent, USD 204, Kansas
“According to our records, approximately 40% of the learners who come to our literacy program have moderate to severe Irlen Syndrome. Many of our learners have been misdiagnosed as dyslexic. Upon being screened and receiving their colored overlays, they have been able to improve their reading and writing skills, accomplish more in a shorter time, retain their lessons better, and more completely comprehend what they read. I just received a call from a student who I assessed in high school who just graduated with her Master’s Degree from Berkeley and wanted to let me know that her Irlen Filters had ‘saved her life’."
Marcia Tungate, Literacy Program Administrator, Orange County Public Library, California
"My research studies have identified Irlen Syndrome as a primary reason that students avoid reading and struggle with reading and learning. With the appropriate colored transparencies, college students gained nearly four grade levels in reading and middle school students gained from one year to five years in reading. Irlen Syndrome is the principal and most widespread “invisible” barrier to reading and learning for upwards of forty percent of student populations. "
Dr. France Morrow, Adjunct Professor of Psychology, Washington State University
“I have been an Irlen Screener for my school for some 10 years. I have witnessed many miracles. I am a strong proponent of the use of Irlen Filters. I know that it works. "
Sue Parsons, Leffingwell Elementary School, California
"Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome testing is an integral part of our screening process for dyslexia and related disorders. Using appropriately prescribed (Irlen) colored overlays and/or filters often provides a successful treatment tool."
Denise Spires, Reading Education Coordinator, Leander School District, Texas
"The teachers involved with these students report that the Irlen overlay filters are the instrument responsible for the pupil's improvement in terms of reading skills. If, out of every 200 special education students enrolled in our district, 25 children are returned to the regular programs, a substantial cost reduction would be achieved."
William E. Hendrick, Ph.D., Administrator of Student Support Services, Jurupa Unified School District, California
For the offender population, over 50% of whom are learning disabled, the Irlen Method offers a new way of approaching the problems of LD.
Lou Kaufer, Executive Director of M-2 Job Therapy, Washington
"To date, I have not witnessed any other educational technique that has had such an immediate impact on an individual's reading ability."
Brucie Ball, EdS., Staffing Specialist, Dade County Public School System, Florida
"…our feeling as disinterested outsiders is that the technique developed by Helen Irlen addresses a severe, unmet need in the community, has promise, and has benefited many individuals but requires further validation. We are dealing here with a technology that is emerging and whose efficacy has yet to be fully established, in terms of non--nal scientific standards and to the satisfaction of funding agencies and policy makers. We look forward to seeing the results of further work in this fascinating area."
David M. Hailey & Anthony R. Lea, Health Technology Division, Australian Institute of Health
"We have been convinced of the value of Irlen Filters. All special education referrals must have a SSS screening as part of the referral process. Secondly, we have placed over 800 colored overlays in our schools to be used by students. We have evidence of children in three months going from non-reader to grade level reader and no longer a behavior problem, children going from a C/D student to an A/B student on one report period, and attendance has gone from chronic absences with stomachaches to regular attendance; and a dyslexic 12 year old who could not read the most simple of reading material, in spite of four years in a special education resource room, being able to read a book at the 4th grade level immediately upon placing on the colored filters."
Wes Nedrow, Special Education Director of Lower Kuskokwim School, District, Alaska
"Should reading educators support an approach that works for some children without knowing why it does? At the risk of sounding scientifically premature, we think they should ... The use of (Irlen) colored overlays and filters may provide the fighting chance many at-risk readers deserve."
William Henk, EdD., Associate Professor of Education and Reading, Pennsylvania State University
Robert J Rickelman, Millersville University
The Chawanakee Joint School District feels that the district program of screening for SSS and prescribing (Irlen) colored overlays and/or filters is an essential part of the overall reading program. It gives them every opportunity possible to learn as much as they are able. The teachers report that it changes non-readers into readers, enables others to read longer, and enhances speed and comprehension for others."
Ellen Crill, Chawanakee Joint School District, California
"It is the single most important advance in the treatment of reading difficulties I've ever seen."
John Bald, Literacy Expert, Consultant-National Curriculum Council, writer-TheMail
"This work has added a much needed therapeutic dimension to the treatment of dyslexics or learning disabled while high-lighting the underlying perceptual vs. linguistic origins. (Irlen) Colored lenses may significantly compensate for visual overloading and the destabilizing effects that result. They facilitate fixation and tracking by adding color to sharpen foreground/background relationships."
Harold N. Levinson, M.D., author of Smart but Feeling Dumb
"We are finding a disproportionately high incidence of Scotopic Sensitivity among underprepared and underachieving college students. Students with SSS reporting reading problems made significant gains in both rate and comprehension on the same reading test with use of (Irlen) colored overlays. This is the key toward their personal and professional goals."
Gen M. Ramirez, Ph.D., Director of the Learning Assistance Center, California State University at Long Beach
"We have added Scotopic Sensitivity Screening as an intervention procedure. This has resulted in many non-readers using (Irlen) colored overlays and/or filters and has prevented the need of special education services. Because of the use of (Irlen) colored overlays and/or filters, our special education referrals have been greatly reduced. We are indeed appreciative of being able to identify those students who can be better helped through Scotopic technology rather than years of special education."
Carolyn Rounsaville, Director of Special Education, Banning Unified School District, California
"I have had a wonderful time with SSS screening, dazzled by the brilliance of your discovery. I can't get over my own obtuseness in never having picked up the distortions in the thousands of children and adolescents I have seen -- even though they were staring me in the face."
Margie Golick, Ph.D., Chief Psychologist, McGill-Montreal Children Is Hospital Learning Centre, Canada
"We allow many students to slip through the cracks of the educational system. If a student can be helped by a simple overlay, why would you choose not to take advantage of this method? The Irlen Filters are a solution to one aspect of the problem."
Katie Kirschenman, Board of Trustees for a local school district, California
"Our local Rotary clubs raised the money to train school staff how to test for SSS. Our results were exciting because over 200 leaming disabled students were tested and over 75% have SSS and were helped in their reading, writing, comprehension, and math. This is a simple, common sense approach. The cost is minimal and the results are maximum."
Arthur McCullough, Escondido West Rotary Club, California
"This (Irlen) technique has tremendous potential to restore individual self-esteem, reduce the school drop-out rate, and impact on the reduction of behavioral problems in children. We eventually hope to make SSS screening and treatment a universal practice in all Erie area schools."
Erie Center for the Blind and Visually Handicapped, Pennsylvania
"We are excited about the potential the Irlen Method holds for the offender/ex-"I feel that physicians should have open minds and consider all avenues to creating successful students. The Irlen Filters may not be the answer for everyone; but for those who have reading difficulties of a specific perceptual nature, they do help. They give students a tool to use for better education."
Robert Stuart, M.D., Long Beach, California
"Individuals come to us for help with a variety of learning difficulties. Most show difficulty in decoding/spelling or comprehension, but diagnosing the underlying cause of that difficulty requires sifting through many specific symptoms. We find it helpful to be aware of the particular symptoms Helen Irlen has identified for Scotopic Sensitivity, since that particular "layer" of difficulty is relatively easy to screen for and to resolve. And resolving any difficulty with visually handling a page of print can make it easier to develop other processes such as phonemic awareness or concept imagery."
Phyllis Lindamood, Director, Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes, California
"As a Director overseeing exceptional student education for the Dade County Public School system in Miami, Florida, I am extremely skeptical of any new or unique techniques. Since piloting the Irlen Approach to Reading, the percentage of students that have been helped to increase their perceptual reading ability is genuinely impressive, and I endorse promoting the technique to a larger number of students."
Susan Renick-Blount, Director, Exceptional Student Education - Region II, Dade County Public School System, Florida
"I have recommended to the Texas Rehabilitation Commission that the (Irlen) screening and treatment technique be adopted as it is now currently approved in several other states' rehabilitation commissions."
Jack Greeson, Ph.D., State Psychological Consultant to the Texas, Rehabilitation Commission
After the completion of the Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome Project at Onate High School with learning disabled students, the response from not only the parents of these students, but the Las Cruces staff was overwhelming. Referrals appeared from everywhere! Parents of elementary students called; parents of mid-school students called; staff referred themselves and their own children. It was astounding!
We trained pre-screeners and the screening process was in full swing! Unable to keep up with the referral demand, four screeners processed as many as they could handle. Students using overlays reported dynamic changes in their abilities to focus on the written page. Parents phoned to say that their children were reading at home, independent of an adult for assistance. Teachers reported their observations of students' motivation to read using their overlays.
We have lost one screener. The referrals take up an entire file drawer. We are working on our IDEA-B federal grant to train one individual in each school and three individuals in each secondary school. The goal is to have screeners in all buildings. The Chapter I Reading Lab teachers will also pursue training.
The Las Cruces Public Schools has 21,000 students enrolled. We have a population of 2,000 students enrolled in our special education programs. Our goal is to implement Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome screening into the Building screening Committees, hopefully to diagnose symptoms of Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome and to provide remedial strategies and overlays to prevent special education placement. Wouldn’t that be terrific?
Lynn Bryan, Assistant Director, Special Education Dept. LAS CRUCES PUBLIC SCHOOLS
I WANTED YOU TO KNOW WHAT AN IMPACT YOUR TECHNOLOGY HAS HAD ON BANNING UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT. WE HAVE ADDED SCOTOPIC SENSITIVITY SCREENING AS AN INTERVENTION PROCEDURE AT THE STUDENT RESOURCE TEAM LEVEL. THIS HAS RESULTED IN MANY NON-READERS BEING RECOGNIZED AS HAVING SCOTOPIC SENSITIVITY, AND THESE STUDENTS' USE OF THE COLORED OVERLAYS HAS PREVENTED NEED OF SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES. BECAUSE OF THE NUMBER OF OVERLAYS NOW BEING UTILIZED AT ONE SITE, OUR SPECIAL EDUCATION REFERRALS HAVE BEEN GREATLY REDUCED.
WE ARE CURRENTLY UTILIZING THREE LEVELS OF SCREENING IN OUR DISTRICT. THE PASS IS UTILIZED BY TRAINED AIDES AND VOLUNTEERS, AND THOSE SCORING HIGH ON THIS TEST ARE THEN REFERRED TO THE SITE SCREENEA FOR MORE IN-DEPTH ASSESSMENT. THE NEXT LEVEL FOR THOSE STILL IDENTIFIED AT RISK AND IN NEED OF MORE THAN THE OVERLAYS WOULD BE REFERRED TO OUR DIAGNOSTIC SCREENERS WHO HAVE BEEN TRAINED BY YOU.
WE ARE INDEED APPRECIATIVE OF YOUR CONTRIBUTION AND HELP IN IDENTIFYING THOSE STUDENTS WHO CAN BE BETTER HELPED THROUGH SCOTOPIC TECHNOLOGY RATHER THAN YEARS OF SPECIAL EDUCATION. SPECIAL EDUCATION HAS A BIG JOB SERVING THOSE WITH SPECIAL NEEDS WHO CANNOT BE REMEDIATED IN OTHER WAYS, AND SCOTOPIC SCREENING HAS HELPED TO MAKE THAT J0B EASIER.
CAROLYN ROUNSAVILLE, DIRECTOR, SPECIAL EDUCATION, BANNING UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
Deer Valley Unified School District has contracted with Mrs. Abromovitz, who is a consummate professional, on an on-going basis for Scotopic screenings for students who have been experiencing difficulties with visual perceptual processing. Deer Valley Unified School District , being the fiduciary agent and member of the pilot project, has been extensively involved in learning about the syndrome via in-services and training and has become significantly aware of what can occur when the difficulty is discovered and remediation occurs. Many of our students have benefited by the screenings, overlays and lenses. It has made a difference in the lives and learning of these students and their families.
Maxine K. Reardon, Ed.D. Director of Special Services, Deer Valley Unified School District
This note is to let you know of our successes in the Page School District since you came to Page and trained our first set of 15 screeners in April 1992. In addition, ten more screeners were trained.
We have over 250 students and staff in the elementary, middle school and high school using overlays. Students are able to read longer, attend to task better and improve reading skills with the use of overlays.
Teachers feel it is important to identify students with symptoms of SSS and refer them to the screeners. We are modifying the lighting in the classroom by turning off one bank of fluorescent lights. We allow students to wear hats and encourage the use of overlays. We are making a difference for many students.
Eva Ross, Special Education Teacher, Page Unified School District
I am writing this letter to advise you of the implementation of the Scotopic Sensitivity/Irlen Syndrome program into our school district.
Jurupa Unified School District's enrollment is approximately 17,000; we operate 15 elementary schools, two middle schools, two comprehensive high schools, and two continuation high schools. Our ethnic breakdown is approximately 50% Caucasian, 40% Hispanic, 8% Afro-American, and 2% Asian and other. The community is middle class to poverty with some areas of upper-income properties.
I first became aware of the Scotopic Sensitivity/Irlen Syndrome through the "60 Minutes" television program. Initially, I was a disbeliever and had resisted efforts on the part of my psychological staff to implement the program. However, after discovering that 1, in fact, have the syndrome and now wear the lenses for reading, I became somewhat more interested!
We trained selected special education staff members, i.e. Psychologists, Remedial Reading Specialists, to provide SSS/Irlen screening services for students referred by teachers. At the end of the school year, we reviewed 199 middle school students who were screened and provided colored overlays. Of the 199 students, staff reported 90 had shown some level of improvement; twenty-five were reintegrated into regular education and dropped from special education. It was the opinion of the teachers involved with these students that the lrlen overlay filters were responsible for the pupils' reading improvement.
At interest here is the fact that, out of every 200 special education students enrolled in our district, we can return 25 to the regular program, a substantial cost reduction would be achieved. For example: Approximately 1,600 students are enrolled in the district's non-severely handicapped learning disability program. If we could return 200 students to regular programs and reduce eight special education classes, that would be a savings of approximately $800,000 a year to our district.
Dr. Bill Hendrick, Administrator of Education Support Services, Jurupa Unified School District
My name is Cynthia Stone. I have lived in Acushnet for 20 years, but I have taught at the Acushnet Elementary School for 26 years. For the last 7 years, I have been assigned to the Special Needs Department working with children in grades 3, 4, and 5.
Historically when a child was evaluated and placed on an Individual Education Plan (I.E.P.), he or she remained on that I.E.P. for the rest of their school career. Recent research has discovered that the success of most pull-out remedial programs was less than originally anticipated. Therefore, recent legislation has encouraged school systems to keep children in the mainstream classroom. In Acushnet, we feel that we are successfully working toward this goal. A large part of our success is attributed to the use of Irlen Overlays.
In the last 4 years 16 children, reading I to 2 years below grade level, have been fitted with Irlen overlays, remediated, and mainstreamed into general education reading. These children are now reading at grade level or within 6 months of grade level.
During the school year, 141 students were using the Irlen Overlays. Thirty-three of these students were receiving Special Needs services for Reading. Of the 33 students currently receiving special needs reading services, 16 were successfully mainstreamed back into the general education classroom for reading and related subjects.
Of the 108 general education students using overlays, all 108 could be potential special needs students if their reading difficulties associated with light sensitivity were not addressed and their reading deficits remediated at an early age. Most of our students with SSS are screened 'in grades 2 - 3 or 4. Our referrals come mainly from homeroom teachers. We have also made SSS screening part of our pre-referral process. Any child having reading difficulty is screened for SSS before any other type of testing is performed.
Based on our success rate, we believe that students in other communities across the State may also benefit from Scotopic Sensitivity Screening. Such a procedure may reduce the number of students with reading difficulties and is 'in line with the State Legislature's and Department of Education's goals to reduce the number of Special Needs students in the state of Massachusetts.
Cynthia Stone, M.Ed., ACUSHNET PUBLIC SCHOOLS, SPECIAL EDUCATION DEPARTMENT
The attached article was recently published in the Texas Reading Report, the newsletter for the Texas State Reading Association.
I have been an Irlen screener for about three years now, and have been screening the children in our university reading clinic each semester. Belton ISD 36 teachers were trained to screen children in Belton. The goal of that district was to have at least one screener on each elementary campus by the fall. The response of the teachers has been overwhelming.
Part of our elementary education program at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor each semester involves educating our pre-service teachers about Irlen Syndrome. Because I work directly with "at-risk" children each semester, I see the "casualties" of poorly trained reading teachers. "Poorly trained," in my opinion, also includes those educators lacking knowledge of Irlen Syndrome, a problem that is clearly adding to the frustration of many of our disabled readers.
Thank you for your continued dedication and support of those who believe in this program as you do. It has become for me both a "personal and professional passion." For the sake of our children, I am hopeful that someday the program will count as many reading educators among its ranks as it does psychologists. Until that happens, at least in this state, there is little hope that the program will be embraced by the public schools. I will certainly continue to do whatever I can to work toward that end.
Candy Carlile, EdD., Director of Elementary Education
Copyright © 1998 Perceptual Development Corp/Helen Irlen. All rights reserved.