Carol F. Zuccone Ed. D.
Associates / Irlen® Clinic

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Irlen® Syndrome

Irlen® Syndrome or Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome (SSS) is a sensitivity to light that can significantly interfere with reading and writing activities. It can lower test scores and impair a person’s ability to function in school and work situations. It can co-exist with dyslexia, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, autism, and some emotional or behavioral disturbances. Irlen® Syndrome/SSS can not be diagnosed using standard educational, psychoeducational, or speech and language tests. Fortunately, this syndrome is very easy to diagnose and treat.

What is Irlen® Syndrome? Irlen® Syndrome affects approximately 12-14% of the general population, including gifted students and even those with good reading skills but who avoid reading. The number of individuals with Irlen® Syndrome increases to almost 46% for those with reading, learning, or attention problems. Individuals with Irlen® Syndrome find bright lights, fluorescent lighting, glare, white paper, and the amount of print on the page affects reading fluency and comprehension. Individuals with Irlen® Syndrome perceive visual information differently and often find that reading can cause discomfort or fatigue. Most individuals are not aware that they have a problem.

The Irlen® Method. Irlen® Spectral Colored Overlays remediate the Irlen® Syndrome. The use of Irlen® Spectral Colored Overlays is not a method for teaching reading and does not replace reading instruction or remediation. Using the correct colored overlay(s) will remove a barrier to learning so one can read with fluency and comprehension. This sounds simple but choosing the right overlay color, or combination of overlays, requires knowledge and training. Choosing the wrong color can make no difference or even make things worse.

Colored overlays are only one part of the Irlen® Method. They can be used for reading but not for math, copying, writing, spelling, and computer use. If color is helpful, wearing Irlen® Spectral Colored Filters will provide greater benefits in more areas, such as depth perception, sports performance, driving, night driving, and computer fatigue. Certified Irlen® Diagnosticians use an almost limitless number of spectral filters to determine a color combination to be worn as glasses. This method determines the exact wave lengths of light to which a person is uniquely sensitive and filters only these colors. Problems of light sensitivity, computer strain, and poor depth perception also improve with Irlen® Spectral Colored Lenses. For more information on Irlen® Syndrome, see Reading by the Colors by Helen Irlen® or www.Irlen.com.

Another Niche for Irlen®: Reducing the Dropout Rate

Researchers say that 1 out of 3 public high school students won't graduate.

For African Americans and Latinos, the rate approaches an alarming 50%. No community, small or large, rural or urban, has escaped the problem.

These numbers have remained unchecked at approximately 30% through two decades of intense educational reform, and the magnitude of the problem has been consistently and often willfully ignored.

The rising peril for dropouts is that this group is immediately relegated to the most low-wage jobs and those jobs that haven't yet moved overseas or filled by an increasing group of even lower wage immigrants. The dropout of today is destined for low lifetime earnings, possible incarceration, and a high likelihood that their children will drop out of high school and repeat the same cycle.

Dropout prevention should be the top of education's agenda. Although countless federal and state dollars have been spent on trying to identify why kids are leaving and looking for ways to reverse the tide, the rate remains unchanged. Is it possible that they have not looked at Irlen® as a root cause? Irlen® may be one answer in the war to prevent dropouts.

The national graduation rate of anywhere from 64% to 71% has remained fairly static since the 1970's, despite increased attention to the plight of public schools and vigorous educational reform movement. The National Center for Educational Statistics states that kids from the lowest income quarter are more than six times as likely to drop out of high school as kids from the highest. Can Irlen® offer a valuable second chance for these kids?

Liberals feel that the dropouts are either a by-product of testing mania or an unavoidable result of public schools. But spending more money has not worked. We've doubled the amount we spend per pupil since the 70's, and the problem hasn't budged.

The stakes to get students to graduate are higher than ever: an estimated 67% of prison inmates nationwide are high school dropouts. A Northeastern University study found that nearly half of all dropouts ages 16 to 24 were unemployed.

The above statistics were abstracted from an article in Time, April 17, 2006, "Dropout Nation," by Nathan Thornburgh.

Identifying Individuals who need colored Overlays. Individuals who answer "yes" to three or more of the following:

  • Skips words or lines
  • Rereads lines
  • Loses place
  • Trouble tracking
  • Easily distracted
  • Makes more errors
  • Trouble with reading comprehension
  • Reads slowly
  • Gets tired or sleepy
  • Blinks or squints
  • Reads close to the page
  • Rubs eyes
  • Prefers to read in dim light
  • Uses a finger or other marker
  • Becomes restless, active, or fidgety
  • Gets a headache or eyes hurt

For more information about Irlen® Syndrome/Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome, visit the Irlen® Institute Website.

This information was reproduced from Irlen® International; Copyright  © 1998- 2006 by Perceptual Development Corp/Helen Irlen®.  All rights reserved.



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