Finally, success after resolving Irlen Syndrome for this schoolgirl

My daughter Chris, did great in school, but when she read aloud, she did so in a halting, slow way. She skipped words and lines and mixed words up. I mentioned it to every teacher she had from 1st to 6th grade. They each referred to her excellent test scores & grades & one teacher had me compare silent reading rates w/ aloud reading rates; they were similar. No one saw a problem. Still, I just KNEW something was amiss, but what?
In 6th grade, Chris had to read a book with tiny print. She became nauseous while reading (she has always had slight motion sickness). She had headaches while reading almost daily. Our family read to her at home in the evenings to keep her caught up with the school book clubs, outside reading and regular homework.

I asked her aunt, a special ed. teacher, if she’d heard of nausea when reading & scotopic syndrome entered our lives. We went on the Irlen website the next day & Chris said YES to almost every self test question. I couldn’t believe what she was saying she experienced! I was upset but relieved. Then my husband entered the room and saw what we were doing and said, “that happens to me too”! (…frustration… for all of us!)

We went to Ms. David, the diagnostician in our area, and as Chris tried to read without any overlays, she leaned forward, scrunched her face & eyes and tried her best. The words jump, move, she sees white rivers and the words also disappear. When the overlays were used, her whole body sat back and relaxed. Ms. David pointed that out to me. I also couldn’t believe what my daughter had to endure, still succeeding all 7 years of school! Both her and my tears just started flowing – I felt awful to have let this go on for so long, but thankfully, we finally had an answer.
Chris adapted to her lenses right away & has used them for 2 years. She advocates for herself in school. High school is next & we are a bit nervous, but so far all of her teachers are very accomodating, even getting her some audio books to help with reading large amounts per night.
I emailed every teacher she had in the past about Irlen & the effects on Chris. Teachers & districts need to be aware of Irlen & test for it early on so children don’t suffer needlessly for years when it can be so easily remedied.
Chris has read, for enjoyment, 600 page books and a long 4-book series. We couldn’t be prouder or happier we discovered the answers to help her out!


  1. I was an Irlen screener in our school district about 7 or 8 years ago. I have seen over and over again what you described. One student, who had Irlen pretty bad actually just stopped and stared and stared when we got to the right combination of overlays. She said, “OH Mrs. E!! Look!!!” It was the first time the printed page had ever looked right to her. She didn’t know it could look different.
    Anyway, I had really almost forgotten about Irlen syndrome since I quit working. This morning I tested a little girl in our homeschool group whose mom was concerned might have dyslexia. As she was reading it occured to me that is was Irlen. Her mom told me after that the dad and brother both have it as well but she hadn’t thought about her daughter b/c she does well in school. OH! it was exciting to help them.
    Best of luck to your daughter!

  2. January 2, 2012 was the day my 13 year old daughter was diagnosed with this condition. We visited a clinic in Fort Collins, CO after years and years of vision therapy. Within minutes it was determined that Ariel was in deed a candidate for these special lenses. Before she left the office, the 12 distortions that she described so vividly described had all but disappeared! In a good way this time…

    Like Roger above, I have called every teacher, school principal and eye doctor that we ever came across (Washington – Colorado) since we discovered she had a visual processing struggle in the 1st grade! So many lost years academically…. My heart breaks to those with struggling with this condition and have no idea how simple of a solution may be out there.

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