February 12, 2007
Goodness, I was just thinking of you and thought I would do a search on the internet. How are you?
Since about 1987-1988 when you said to me on that fateful day in Dalby ‘I don’t know how you got through school’ and gave me my Irlen colors, I have been wearing them every day. I have been able to achieve the following:
Studied three years of drama (many performances and many lines to remember). Worked as an Executive Secretary and Retail Manager Studied Art with community colleges and organised and contributed to exhibitions (some raising money for charity). Two years ago, I had a solo exhibition. Traveled Western Europe and worked in London as a secretary. Recently worked in a mine in Mt Isa and two weeks ago I applied for Uni in Brisbane to study psychology
My Irlen Coloured Filters and you were the pivotal point for my life (almost 20 years ago), and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. From that day, my life changed.
I’ve just moved to Brisbane to start a new life and with the application to. Uni, you came to mind, yet again. It’s nice to find you.
I hope you are well and happy,
Best wishes and take care,
Dear Dr. Irlen,
My name is Eunice and Rees, my son, has Irlen Syndrome.
Rees is 9 years old and was able to read single words but not anything that was more than 2 words long.
He read slowly and hated reading. He would do anything to get out of it.
I went to see Rees’ teacher who advised there was nothing wrong with him. I wasn’t satisfied and went to see the head of his key stage. When i was explaining his problems, she smiled and I got so defensive (I was not just an overprotective parent; I knew my son was struggling and Rees had said he had trouble reading and wanted extra help.)
She then told me that she was sorry and didn’t think that at all. She explained the symptoms to Irlen Syndrome were like what I had just explained to her and asked if I would give my consent for Rees to be tested. I agreed (thanking God) that someone was willing to help find out what was going on.
Rees went through the testing and was unable to read a book without struggling at the begining.
When Rees had finished answering the questions and his teacher started placing the overlays over a reading book at the end, Rees had us in tears; it was like someone had switched a light on. He read two pages without any problem; and, for the first time in his lif,e he read as though he was having a conversation.
I had never heard him read like that since he was learning his first words.
It has only been a short time since Rees started to read with the grey and turquoise overlays but he is doing really well
- He is reading a book a night
- He smiles when asked to read
- He is feeling more confident
Rees goes to have his glasses made from the Irlen Center in Guisley Leeds on the 26/2/07.
To help make others aware of Irlen Syndrome, Rees is doing a sponcered READ on Wednesday 21st February and is hoping to take the money raised with him to help others that might not be able to afford the glasses.
After speaking with Rees, he advised that when he looked at a book he only could see the first letter and the last letter (Astimegoesoniwillalwaysrememberit. As time goes on i will always remember it.) and the lines underneath started to overlap the previous line.
I felt guilty not knowing what Rees was seeing and I didn’t understand why Rees was struggling; but like his teacher advised, Rees would have thought that what he was seeing was normal. HE NOW KNOWS DIFFERENT
Thank you with all my heart for your persistant studies into this.
Leeds West Yorkshire
All my life, I have had extreme light sensitivities. Imagine having a temporal lobe and a post-parietal lobe which react to certain wavelengths of light by going into a constant state of seizure. Imagine your speech, short term memory, and all other functions in that part of your brain melting down as a result.
Imagine seeing every glint of a passing car as intense as a laser beam. Imagine the frequent debilitating migraine headaches that follow. That was my life. I wore three pairs of sunglasses at once, to try to go out. Imagine living one block from the ocean and never seeing it because the reflections of sun would disable you for days afterward.
Now, I wear relatively light rosey gray Irlen colored glasses and the results are marvelous. Finally, my husband and I go on pleasure walks. Every color I see is more vibrant and my focus is much improved. Instead of only looking down, I look at trees, buildings, airplanes and anything I want without experiencing the excruciating pain of my past. For fluorescent light, I have yellow-green Irlen glasses.
My father, who has many of my symptoms but more of the auditory ones, was happy for me when I got my glasses. I say this because he is an eminent scientist. He founded the Optical Sciences Center at the University of Arizona. It is named in his honor; the “Aden B. Meinel Center for Optical Sciences.” There is even a band on the light spectrum named after him. He knows in his own experience that the effects of light or sound may affect one brain differently than another.
Dr. Meinel recently got his first hearing aid, and also his first grand-mal seizure when the phone rang. To prevent that discomfort, he got a hearing aid that filters out offending sound frequencies. Same principle as the Irlen lens; just another sense. We need to understand that neurology is a relatively new field. The Irlen lenses relate to neurology. There is so much that we don’t understand yet, about the chemistry of the brain and the effects of light and components thereof, on the chemicals of the brain.
I have different brain chemistry than a normal person. UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute did a spectroscopy, as part of a study on savantism, which showed chemical differences. I also had EEG’s which showed that light was disabling my brain. An MRI showed that I had no tumors. I realize that optometrists criticize that the lenses do not employ optics. The retina is not the beneficiary. The brain is.
Petit Mal seizures are common in autism. So many of us are adversely affected by fluorescence, sounds, perfumes and tactile sensations. There is certainly a category of people in the autism community and beyond, for whom the Irlen lens is appropriate.
My depakote prescription cost more, for one month, than the price of my Irlen colored glasses. Now that I have my Irlen glasses, I have been able to reduce my dosage. Life-long usage of drugs is hard on the liver and kidneys. Irlen lenses only make life better and don’t wear out vital organs or cause horrid side effects like I had from Tegretol.
Thank you, Helen Irlen, for the results of your pioneering.
THE ADVOCATE Newsletter of the Autism Society of America, Inc.
This response submitted by Barb Pytel, BA, MSE
I am an elementary school counselor who learned about the Irlen Method in the summer of 1997. In October I began screening children very cautiously in our school. Wow. To have these little kids look up at me with amazement is an unbelievably emotional experience for me. They won’t read without their overlay. For anyone who is skeptical, I invite you to visit Alta, IA and listen to these children tell you with their own words what it does for them. If you can leave our building without crying or hugging one of them, you’re a better man than me Charlie Brown.
Barb Pytel, Elementary Counselor
I have heard of people using overlays to help in reading, but I did not have any other information until this past week. A parent enrolled their student this past week and explained why he was wearing colored lenses. I thought she was describing the problems of my daughter so I asked for further information. She had her son tested in Austria because they had been living in Germany. She brought me Irlen’s book and I haven’t put it down since.
My daughter, Ainsley, is 21 years old and has always been an excellent student. She graduated eighth in her class of 500 from high school. She has struggled somewhat in college, but I thought it was because she had chosen the major of mechanical engineering. Her IQ is above 140; she participated in the gifted programs all through school and rarely made lower that 95 on anything. However, she frequently complained of headaches and extreme discomfort when reading. Because she was an excellent student and because I did not know about SSS, I tended to not really “listen” to her complaints. I didn’t know what to do. We have had her eyes checked by various eye doctors who said her vision was very good but, because of the headaches, they suggested a little correction for reading. The glasses didn’t help the headaches or the vibrating, ant-like print that she actually saw. We called a number in the book and had her tested this weekend. We are so excited about the relief she experienced while using the lenses that we can hardly wait for the glasses to be delivered.
Now, for her, the sky is the limit. I can’t believe it took this long for us to find out about SSS.
Thanks to all who are actively sharing information about this problem. The solution is so simple!
Helped over 200
This response submitted by Robin Simpson, Irlen Screener
I have been an Irlen screener for over 3 years and have seen the Irlen Method work for over 200 students. The group that I was working with were in a course with a large science component as well as a practical “hands on” component. In over 90% of the cases, the students were scoring very high marks on their practical exams and very low in the reading-based sciences. Students who could be tracked through their previous marks showed improvement of 5 to 20% in their next exams. Others went from failing to the top of their class.
Anyone who sits through an Irlen screening and sees and hears the change in the reader’s ability will never doubt the Irlen method again.
M.A. in Special Education
Submitted by Keith Castillot
I plan on using Irlen screening throughout the institution (Riverside Juvenile Hall). I provide on site resources to the staff as well as providing individual assessments and working one on one with students. Many of the students that are housed in the institution have learning disabilities. The disabilities are process-input-decoding problems or drug induced which still have the same effects. I myself am learning disabled and benefited by using colored overlays. I want to open up students’ full potentials by becoming an Irlen Screener. From personal experience, the colored overlays have helped with my tracking problems, remembering information that I read, improved reading abilities and corrected most of my dyslexia.
I attended college in the fall of 1982. I had been suspended from seven different universities for unacceptable GPA, not knowing I had learning disabilities. I was finally diagnosed in 1991 as being dyslexic. Dr. Lee Ann Kokenderfer introduced me to the concept of scotopic sensitivity. I then entered CSULB with a GPA of 1.91 and graduated spring of 1995, with the help of colored overlays, with a GPA of 2.34. I finished the credential program with a GPA of 3.65. My current GPA for the MA special education program is a 4.0. I use colored overlays, but I know that my students are not receiving the full benefits that an Irlen screening and overlays can provide. I am living documentation that without that help, I would not be where I am today.
Puzzled, Fretted and Lost Sleep
Submitted by Cynthia Fels, Educational Consultant
I am writing you to tell you that I was so intrigued after reading your book, “Reading By the Colors,” that I decided to become an Irlen Certified Screener. I love to learn new things, so I traveled to the Wichita Irlen Clinic in November to become certified. I learned so much, and still have so much to learn.
I have taught children with reading problems and other educators how to teach reading for the last 26 years. I have always been highly successful in my efforts, but have also puzzled, fretted and lost sleep over that % of my caseload who never seemed to make much progress. I do believe that SSS is the key to that group.
I have already had the opportunity to screen several children, and watching the transformation that occurs in them, (posture, body facial language, reading, etc.) before and after the use of the colored overlays, is nothing short of miraculous!
I look forward to learning, growing and doing what I can to help spread the word about this important work. Thank you for sharing you knowledge with others.
I Can Almost Read Like Normal People Now
Submitted by Mirandy Archer of Wenatchee, WA, a 12th grader
Mirandy Archer first appeared in my office in April of 1995. Although she worked hard, got pretty good grades and loved to read, she reported that she was such a slow reader that she had to work many times harder than her schoolmates. She was ready to admit that school was becoming increasingly difficult and that she needed some help. She said she was always losing her place and the middle of letters would stand out and then pop back and forth and soon she would have a headache. Her mother wrote that Mirandy substituted words, could never find information in a chapter by scanning a page, and sometime sprinted letters backwards. In math, her numbers would not line up straight, creating accuracy problems.
During testing, Mirandy found that the white background of the Dutch Page was too bright, seemed to expand, breathe in and out, flicker and create glaring outlines around words and letters. Then letters began to vibrate and pulsate, get blurry and shift. It made her stomach hurt to keep looking.
Once Mirandy found the correct tint, most of these distortions disappeared. After using her Irlen Filters for several months, Mirandy wrote the following: “Before I got my Irlen lenses, it took me hours to do my homework. I would get frustrated easily and I didn’t know exactly what was wrong. I had low self-esteem and got bruises all the time, but I didn’t know why. One of my mother’s colleagues had Irlen Filters and gave me her copy of Reading By The Colors by Helen Irlen. It was two years later that I had my very own pair of Irlen Filters. My new glasses helped my depth perception (why I ran into things and got bruises), light sensitivity and slow reading. All of a sudden I enjoyed school, school activities and reading for hours on end. I started feeling good about myself. My GPA went from 2.6 to 3.8. My parents couldn’t be happier, and I could finally enjoy my true passion: mystery novels. Whereas before a page of print looked very bright, the letters moving around, and all of the words squishing together, now they are still and evenly spaced. All thanks to Helen Irlen.”
Recently Mirandy came back to see me and we found a tint that was better for her. She is entering college, having graduated with high honors, and hopes to become a psychologist. She’s already listed in Who’s Who for High School Students. Congratulations, Mirandy!
Mom/TeacherThis response submitted by JKMoore
With 20+ years of teaching and 20+ years of parenting, I thought that I had seen or heard of all varieties of learning disabilities/dysfunctions. When my 16 year old daughter continued to have migraines that were unexplainable, I insisted on dyslexia screening. Since she was ranked 47 in a class of 597 at a well-known academic suburban high school, my request was met with less than enthusiasm. The testing revealed nothing of significance. All scores were in the 90% range except visual perception which was in the 70% range. She was dismissed as not having a problem.
During a discussion with a friend in a teacher’s lounge of a school that I visit regularly in my job, I mentioned my daughter’s migraines. A woman sitting next to my friend said that she had received some information that sounded like my daughter and would send it to me. Several days later I received what I now consider to be a lifeline for my daughter. The information was on the Irlen Syndrome or Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome.
After researching on the Internet, I contacted the Irlen Institute and found a SSS diagnostician about 20 miles from our home. During testing over the Christmas holidays, my daughter was diagnosed with SSS. As a parent, I have seen my daughter have some happy experiences but none have been as wonderful as her face after using the filter for one day. She said that it was so easy to read. Two days ago she received her lenses and 2 hours later (thank goodness for one hour optical shops) was wearing them. She loves what she sees. She no longer gets headaches from reading. She had never known that the rivers and light/dark print was not what everyone else saw. She thought that she was seeing the same as everyone else. Now she knows what she has missed and is determined not to miss anything else.
As a parent and a teacher, I know that it is real. Some children labeled incorrectly have gone through years of school with mild to moderate problems that are completely treatable. I have no doubt that my daughter and others like her will benefit from the filters and lenses.
I will carry the guilt with me for years that I did not find the reason for her migraines sooner. To help others with this problem has become my “mission” as I tell “Lyndsey’s story” to anyone who will listen.
Headaches and StomachachesSubmitted by Marsha Holden
I am writing to tell you about my daughter, Emily and the wonderful discovery we found for her. For most of her school education she has struggled and has been misdiagnosed and simply misunderstood. Emily started “not paying attention” in kindergarten; first grade she was in the hall to do her work; and second grade she was in the nurses office with headaches or stomach aches daily. The harder she would try to work on her papers or reading, the sicker she would get. Third grade was behavior modification, then misdiagnosis of ADD. By sixth grade her education had gotten so hard she just gave up and sat in the corner with a pile of work and getting no where. Her eighth grade special education teacher read everything to her and she did a little better in school.
Emily would say that the words moved on the computer screen but the school nurse said she had 20/20 vision. I was definitely getting mixed messages.
I took Emily to eye doctors, pediatricians, biofeedback, Brain Gym, read to her, argued with her and loved her. She was falling through the cracks as far as her education was concerned. She needed help.
About a year ago, I was talking to my friend and she mentioned that was so thrilled because she had been diagnosed with Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome and had gotten colored filters and felt so much better. I took Emily the 358 miles to the Irlen Clinic of Fort Collins. They found that the words moved on the page, they made shadow, rivers of white were throughout the page or swirled around, which was the cause of her headaches and stomachaches. Emily was given colored Irlen Filters.
We have found that since she got her filters she can ride in the car and not get car sick. Sports were hard because she couldn’t tell where the ball was. With her Irlen Filters she now has depth perception. Emily’s teachers thought she was just trying to get out of doing her school work. She wanted to learn but no one believed her that her work made her sick. Now with her Irlen Filters she no longer gets headaches or stomachaches.
The education of Emily Holden has just begun. She is a sophomore in high school. She has just got her voice, and now the things Emily has been saying all along make senses. School is still a struggle, but she is filling in the gaps
How Hard I TriedSubmitted by Missy Hill
I want to thank you, Mrs. Irlen, for the help you and your staff gave me. To be completely honest, I was never conscious of how bad my eye sight was and how it affected my performance in every way.
I had never had a reason to question my eye sight since all my eye test results were almost 20/20. I always thought that my learning problems were due to my Dyslexia, event though I had pretty much overcome that problem. Because of my learning disability, I have taught myself to always try my very hardest. This self-discipline always made me well known and liked amongst the teachers. But with how hard I tried, I should have been getting straight “A’s” in school. I had been given eye glasses before but never wore them because they didn’t do anything for me. I am 15 years old now and in the tenth grade. Ever since the first grade, I have been tested for every thing: multiple types of thinking disorders; vision and hearing problems. I mean – you name it – I’ve done it. Despite all the tests, hardly anyone could help because they could never find anything wrong.
I had to take summer school this year because there were a couple of classes I had not been able to get in the normal school year that I need in order to graduate. One of the classes was a computer class. I had hardly ever worked on the computer before because it hurt my eyes and gave me a headache in a short period of time. But I have been using my filters and never once have I had a problem even though I sit at the computer every day for the two and a half hour class. I also had a health class that was the same length of time and I’ve not had a problem under the fluorescent lights – actually I am third in that class and currently receiving an “A.” The filters make me feel less fidgety and I am able to concentrate better in class. Amazingly I have a huge decrease in headaches and don’t have any tension in my head. I had no idea that light could affect me in such a large way. Not only are the results amazing, but the filters are “too cool.” All my friends think so, too, and they are all jealous.
New Eyes with LensThis response submitted by firstname.lastname@example.org
I got my tinted lens about 1 1/2 years ago. For me it was like being able to see for the first time. The benefits are too numerous to list. Some things that have happened are:
no long afraid of heights
the world no longer looks like a photograph
I can read for hours
I can read out loud with no mistakes
I only wished they could have diagnosed this 30 years ago when I was in school, life would have been so much easier.
Worked for me alsoThis response submitted by Judy E.
While taking a Grad class towards my Master’s degree, a guest speaker talked about SSS. Sounded hooky to me, but I had many of the symptoms. She asked for a volunteer. If I hadn’t participated, I would never believe it. With the help of two very obnoxiously colored overlays, my reading aloud speed more than tripled. The passage was primary research on geology that I had never seen before. I read the first two paragraphs aloud, then the next two with one overlay, I felt like the pace had doubled, than a second overlay was added, I was speeding through the next two paragraphs and not stumbling!!! It definitely helped me do all the reading required to get my Masters degree 18 months later.
Success in TexasThis response submitted by Sherri Hilgenfeld on 1/31/97.
My 6th grade daughter has been wearing tinted lens for one year and has just been dismissed from special education assistance at her school. She was tested after Christmas and scored at GRADE LEVEL in all subjects. In the past, she was one to one and a half years below grade level in reading and math. She also is now an A/B student.
Irlen Endorsement by Carol Baroudi
I am the co-author of the best-selling book about the Internet, The Internet for Dummies. I’m writing to voice my immense gratitude and enthusiasm for the work of Helen Irlen, and to urge support for mandatory testing for Scotopic sensitivity syndrome for all special needs children.
I grew up legally blind and attended college using books on tape and hiring readers to manage my reading load. As an adult, although I love writing, I avoided work that was reading intensive. I tried countless reading programs and consistently sought better correction.
Three years ago, after some prodding by a friend, I decided to check the yellow pages looking for some sort of reading specialist who might be able to help me. What I found has profoundly changed my life. For me, it was as if someone sprayed graphite into a lock: my eyes now move smoothly across a page. Through the use of Irlen filters:
- My visual acuity is a full line better on eye charts. (This has been tested by several independent ophthalmologists.)
- I can read for hours without eye fatigue. Previously, I could read only 15 or 20 minutes.
- I read much faster and with greater ease.
I wonder what it would have been like to grow up being able to read normally. I know it could have profoundly altered my life. I strongly urge you to test your children if they show any signs of vision or reading problems. Not only will you save years of heartache, but you may unleash incredible potential, and you may well save enormous amounts of money. Irlen filters are a very affordable solution to an otherwise unsolvable problem.
Another FanThis was submitted by Virginia Gex
I am a librarian and my son has Irlen Filters. I was lucky enough to find out about it must before his tenth birthday. My son was so eager to learn to read and as a librarian I knew something was preventing this from happening. The teachers all said he was very bright and the kids called him stupid. How sad for a child to this when it is something that can be corrected. He has made so much progress with his Irlen Spectral Filters. Faster than I expected. His writing, reading and attitude has been given such a lift. He is now making A’s and B’s and is reading for fun. Thank you.
Deawn’s StoryThis response submitted by Brenda Guess
I too, know the excitement of sitting through a screening session. Deawn was 18 years. old when she was diagnosed. Her life up until that point had been a living hell. She had been constantly harassed by teachers and still has problems with professors in college. When Deawn went to be fitted with her Irlen colored lens, we were told that the process would take about 2-3 hours. When we returned, Deawn and the diagnostician had been crying. Naturally, we wondered what was going on. Our daughter turned to us, with tears streaming down her face, and replied, “Do you know what it is like to be able to read for the first time in 18 years.?”
Can you imagine the joy that we as parents felt? We discovered that Deawn was one of the extremes. She answered yes to all of the questions on the test. We also learned that she only learned bits and pieces through out her first 12 years. of school. It will take another 18 years. for her to fill in the pieces. At least now there is an answer.
Deawn is an amazing person. Through all the years, she has always been a friend to anyone that need one. She has been active in student council and was Student Body Secretary in high school. She has remained steadfast in her determination to go to college and graduate. I guess that Deawn is my hero. She has persevered even in the face of adversity.
I will NOT back down from anyone who challenges the Irlen remedy. I have seen what it can do. I could understand skepticism if Deawn was only six years. old and we had not tried any other avenues. However, we have spent thousands of dollars on so called proven medical remedies. Guess what? They don’t WORK! She knows how she now sees and what she can now do. The Irlen remedy works and continues to work for Deawn.
It works for MeThis response submitted by Michael R. Covone
I have been using Irlen glasses for several years and have been very happy. In fact I cannot read for more than 10 min. without getting a headache without them. I have used them to get through high school, to get my first college degree and am now depending on them to help me through a masters program in Hawaii. My second grade teacher told my parents that I was never going to make it into college!
Simply: it works.This response submitted by Christian Thatcher, MCSD, MCSE
To these critics I say “Simply: it works”.
To start with some background on myself. Having severe hyperactivity as I child I learned how to adapt to any learning difficulties (and there were many) that I had. I have become a highly successful Computer professional, including a University degree and many professional certifications.
Now the story: It starts with my mother reading an article in some small town paper and recognizing the symptoms described. When I was learning to read I complained of the letters “floating” off the page, the paper hurting my eyes etc… . When she told me I was skeptical, I loved to read, had completed University, and doing well in my career. I was 26 at the time. I agreed after some discussion to actually get tested for SSS.
The testing was standard using various filters. Once a combination of filters was found that seemed to work I started to read OUT LOUD the paper given to me. I never liked to read out loud as I stuttered, misread words, lost my place and basically felt like a semi-literate individual (not nice but true). I would read continuously while placing and removing the filters. The results were dramatic: with the filters I read flawlessly for the first time in my life, without the filters I read badly. It was at this point I realized that the filters worked. The proof was my was in my own voice!
I can go into other details but my point is made. I do not care if this is scientifically proven. I was not child nor easily influenced, I was successful (and even more so now) and very skeptical. I was unaware at that time there I had any difficulties reading (expect out loud).
I believe that I was hyperactive as a child. I just considered the reading difficulties I had was just another set of hoops I had to jump through. By the time my mother read the article I was totally unaware that I once had any problems reading. It is obvious to me today that reading was difficult for me, but I did not know that I could be different. I read voraciously now with my Irlen Filters, and enjoy every minute!
This syndrome may be difficult to prove in a child, as it is in the perception of the person being tested. However, I am not a child and I know that these glasses have a strong positive effect on my life.
They work for me!This response submitted by Marc Roy
I am wearing Irlen lenses right now in order to be able to reply to this article. I cannot sit under fluorescent lights without the lens. I am going to check into the contact lens because I feel they will dramatically improve my day to day life. If you need any more information just send me a line at email@example.com. Have a nice day!
Absolute BelieverThis response submitted by firstname.lastname@example.org
When I went in for testing this May, I was extremely skeptical. When I left I was almost begging the screener to let me take the test lenses home with me. I wanted to use duct tape (to keep the trial lenses on 🙂
To the people who keep saying these things don’t work…
I don’t have a learning disability, although I did find out through the testing that the lenses combined with the overlays (neither alone do the trick) keep words from flashing and moving around and disappearing and stuff. I never noticed the difference before; I was always a “top reader” and all that. It’s a lot easier now.
But the things that really amaze me are the thing I went in for in the first place (fluorescent lights) and the things that I never knew I was missing before I put these glasses on. I can walk into a supermarket and actually look for new kinds of food instead of grabbing the familiar stuff and running out the door (hopefully) before the lights made my coordination and mental abilities plummet drastically. I got an “A” in the sign language class that I could have easily failed because it was the first fluorescent-lit night class I had been in which I couldn’t stare at my notes the whole time. As a matter of fact, my counselor at the Supported Education Program (I have non-learning-related disabilities) told me to drop the class if the Irlen filters didn’t work.
For the same people who say it doesn’t work and for everyone else too:
Do you know what it’s like to see the ocean and love it and enjoy it and not be terrified of it for the first time in your life (in my case, 18 years)? Do you know what it’s like to finally see all of your family’s faces for the first time instead of just their hair and occasional snippets of eyes and noses and stuff that don’t connect whatsoever? Do you know what it’s like to cry every time you look at a tree because you’ve always loved them and now you can see the distance between every branch, the in-and-out patterns of the bark, and the whole thing at once instead of your eyes (or brain, or whatever) “tiling” one part like floor tiles all over your vision to “make up” for the fact that you’re supposed to see something else? To be able to describe what you love about trees in terms of one of the normal five senses because the only thing you could sense wasn’t able to come from those (all of my other senses are wired up like my vision and I need to find ways to fix those too)? To look at one of your own paintings and see all of it instead of each part as you individually painted it? To realize that you might be able to drive, or fly an airplane, after all because now you would be able to see all of the instruments that are scattered all over the dashboard/panel? To see all the stars in the sky at once? To be unafraid of long drop-offs because you can now see how far you are from the edge? To be able to entertain yourself for the entire duration of a plane flight by looking out the window and being able to see your distance from the ground, the clouds’ distance from the ground, and the ripples and details of the ground all at once (again, for the first time in your life)? To know that you were not the one at fault when your 9th-grade math teacher kicked you out of his classroom because you were so confused by the fluorescent lights that you backed up in a corner and squealed (he assumed you were on drugs and immature)? To know that you weren’t crazy when you were little, just on constant sensory overload and now there are answers? To see things that in your wildest dreams you had never imagined possible? To have a childish urge to thumb your nose at fluorescent lights as you go by? To know that woodgrain is supposed to stand still and the wallpaper at Carl’s Jr. isn’t going to give you a headache anymore? To know that you’re on your first real step to understanding the “normal humans” that you always thought had something in for you? Your first real step towards the positive end of normal (now someone do this to my auditory and tactile systems and I’ll be set!)? To grow up more in four months than you ever had in your life?
If you don’t understand that, do you understand how futile it is to tell someone for whom that is true that they don’t work? Irlen herself makes no claims that they help everybody. I don’t want to get mixed up in the politics,. I just want to say that they gave me a life that I didn’t know was possible.
I went in for screening at the recommendation of someone on an autism mailing list. I had posted to alt.support.epilepsy and sci.med.psychobiology about my problem with the flickering of fluorescent lights and my coordination both physical and mental. I talked to all sorts of doctors near where I live. They all gave me advice that just plain didn’t work. The woman on the mailing list told me about these Irlen Spectral Filters, and they were the first original idea I had gotten since I posted the messages. I looked up “Irlen” on a search engine and got all sorts of stuff about reading disorders. I think I found one or two pages that had anything but reading disorders, but those ones described me so well that I decided to go to the most local clinic (Pinole, California).
I was skeptical all the way through the screening and most of the way through the lens fitting. I thought the man wanted our money and nothing else. Then I remembered the cost of EEGs and thought that this wasn’t a whole lot of money for anything remotely neurological. I had gone up to the second layer before I realized I had been choosing on autopilot. Started over again and got to the third layer. I was getting really agitated and I had a headache. The combination of the colours was a really ugly mucky brown with a bit of red in it. Then I stuck a moderately dark bluish one in front of them. I saw the man’s reaction to me before I realized the look I must have on my face. And I could see his whole face. And the letters on the awful glossy wall chart weren’t vibrating. He turned on a fluorescent light next to my head and I told him it must be a really low power one as I was able to read perfectly with it on (I did have trouble concentrating on anything, not just reading, with fluorescent lights. They sent me off somewhere far from where I was sitting.) He told me to lower the test lenses, and within five seconds I was very confused and almost forgot how to hold them up again. He took me outside, and I could see how far away things were. The worst thing was waiting for the two-week delivery (we had it rushed because of the drop date for the class). I became skeptical again and thought maybe I had been imagining things. They came early. My mother told me to be careful on the stairs. I didn’t even have to look at them. I went down to the most evil light in the house (fluorescent) and turned it on directly over me. No problems at all. I noticed that in the hallway the tops of the walls were no longer bent inward. Things were “sticking out in an unfamiliar direction” — I who could mentally deal with 5 or 6 dimensions was seeing the third for the first time. Then I had to run around and look at everything and everyone and counting the long lines of bright fluorescent lights in the store without getting cross-eyed and losing my place. I enjoyed looking slowly around for food (and found some I hadn’t seem before for lack of time). Most startlingly my mother threw me the house keys and I didn’t have to think to catch them. And I could see her face. I’d never seen anyone’s face before and it was fitting that it would be my mother’s I would see first (like most people, only years overdue). I didn’t want to stop looking at things. I learned quickly to stop swapping them for comparisons with my normal glasses because it gave me a headache. And I really didn’t need to… I could see what was new. The chandelier was the first thing I looked at closely, and I finally understood that people like looking at them instead of just clinking the little crystal things together.
I also found out that a favorite author of mine, Donna Williams (with whom I share many sensory difficulties), wrote a third book called “Like Color to the Blind”. She described everything I had experienced when I got my filters, only more eloquently.
I could go on forever about this. I am told that the only evidence for these lenses working is anecdotal. To anyone who thinks that that is a problem — here’s another anecdote for you
IT WORKSThis response submitted by Jolene Venor
As someone who are reading difficulties the Irlen lenses have made a big difference. I use to be only able to read one to two pages but now can read for up to two hours at a time without taking a break and can understand what I’m reading.
Irlen lensesThis response submitted by Larry Balseiro
They have help me the last five years excellent
Irlen ScreenerThis response submitted by email@example.com
I’m a certified special education teacher, Irlen Screener, and Irlen Filter® wearer. I own a private learning center that provides supplementary reading and math instruction. I screen all of my clients with reading or math difficulties for Scotopic Sensitivity.
My clients wearing the Irlen Filters® are very pleased with the benefits they are receiving. Personally, I experience a dramatically decreased level of strain and fatigue when working on the computer and under fluorescent lighting. I can read for several hours without getting a headache, and I can easily drive at night without being blinded by oncoming traffic.
I am convinced that the method works for those who suffer from the syndrome. I’ve seen too many lives changed to doubt its usefulness. I believe there will be a day when enough research has been gathered to make this method acceptable to the mainstream scientific community.
I invite your private replies and comments. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christina E. Finney
Try ItThis response submitted by J. Pierson
Never give up. Despite the comments that Irlen isn’t scientifically accepted, when your child has suffered the frustration of having a high IQ and making failing grades you should keep trying until you find something that works. Irlen has helped more than all the drugs that the accepted treatments prescribe. Save your child the anguish and search until you find a diagnostician that knows about Irlen. When you find that he doesn’t have ADD, as it is often misdiagnosed, and with lenses, instead of drugs he reads and succeeds you’ll thank God that someone (Irlen) looked “outside the box” and discovered help. Try everything
SSS: OverlaysThis response submitted by Brooke Carr
I teach 6th grade in Anaheim, CA. One of my students just began using the Irlen overlays, and his reading ability has drastically improved. Of course, it is only one layer of his problem, but it has stopped the written print from, “falling off the page,” as my student described. I wouldn’t be such an advocate, if I hadn’t seen first hand the positive changes in my student. He has truly made a 180 degree turn around. He is so excited about what he is able to do, and is constantly improving. He is no longer plagued by what he can’t do! I was also screened by our RSP teacher, and found that if I read with a combination of 2- colored overlays, I can read for longer periods of time without becoming tired. I also have noticed increased attention, and better comprehension when I read using the overlays. I have noticed that my mild form of SSS is less noticeable when the print on a page is large
This response submitted by Harriett Stelling