The 13th Irlen International Conference in Manchester, UK was a smashing success! Irlen practitioners from around the world were joined by academics, subject matter experts, Irlen clients, and interested parties from the general public for four full days of information, training, and networking. Helen Irlen kicked off the conference with a presentation on toxic environments, followed immediately by two outstanding keynote presentations by Drs. Eve DeRosa and Adam Anderson from Cornell University. Dr. Anderson gave conference attendees a crash course on the visual system, color perception, and color’s effect on brain function, and Dr. DeRosa provided valuable insights on the brain and attention.
Conference attendees were also treated to expert presentations on brain injury, autism, and ADHD, and they were given inspiring updates on Irlen projects going on around the world. Ongoing projects within the education sector in Ghana and Ecuador illuminated the incidence of Irlen Syndrome both within learning disabled and general school populations, and continue to follow the impact of Irlen interventions on hundreds of school children.
Cutting-edge, hot off the presses, research findings on Irlen and ADHD out of Israel reported “50% of Irlen clients diagnosed with ADHD score in the normative range for attention when using Irlen Spectral Filters.” This research highlights the large overlap in attention-related symptoms between the two conditions and offers suggestions for successful differential diagnosis between the two. Presenters from Japan and Switzerland both addressed issues related to vision and explained how perceptual challenges and visual issues can sometimes be intertwined. Dr. Keiko Kumagai and her graduate student, Nanase Sato, shared trends of Irlen Syndrome in Japan. “Colored lenses improved near vision in 7 out of 11 people and improved depth perception in 6 out of 12 people, suggesting that wearing Irlen Spectral Filters promotes visual function.” And, low vision specialist, Fritz Steiner from Switzerland explained, “In order to have perception, you need light, contrast, and size. The amount of light, the degree of contrast, and the size of print all interact to determine what we see.”
A number of presentations addressed the topics of brain injury and sensory overload, and how Irlen Spectral Filters can address many symptoms within these populations. These included a presentation by Dr. Olga Bogdashina, autism expert, author, lecturer, and co-founder of the International Autism Institute, who shared insights on how Irlen Spectral Filters can reduce visual sensory overload many with autism experience.
Occupational therapist and Irlen Diagnostician, Shoshana Shamberg, and Irlen Diagnostician Sharyn Gormley both addressed the topic of brain injury, offering attendees first-hand accounts of color’s effectiveness and tips on assessment for this population. Over the four-day conference, attendees also heard how Irlen Syndrome impacts driving and math, participated in clinical training sessions, and had ample opportunity to rekindle old relationships and make new ones with fellow Irlen practitioners and supporters. We’re all looking forward to the next Irlen International Conference.