Boy with Scotopic Sensitivity (Irlen Syndrome) puts a spell on flying words

Read how this Grimsby, England, boy of eight who got the first copy in town of Harry Potter’s “Deathly Hallows” could not have read it months ago.

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“Irlen Syndrome a Serious Problem” Newpaper Article

This article appeared in the Independent Newspaper in Dundee, Michigan, Thursday, May 31, 2007:

Former Dundee pharmacist offers info. By Penny Groff.

Do you or someone you know have difficulties reading? What about driving? Playing sports, using a computer or writing? Are you sensitive to light? Difficulty with any of these could be a symptom of a visual perception problem called Irlen Syndrome. Irlen Syndrome, also known as Scoptic Sensitivity Syndrome, is a serious but not well-known problem. Visible perception is the ability to interpret visible light information. Our eyes catch light and send neural impulses to our brain, allowing us to understand what we see.The theory behind Irlen Syndrome is that certain wavelengths of light can interfere with those neural impulses between the eye and the brain. People with Irlen Syndrome have trouble focusing, concentrating and comprehending what they are looking at.

Roger Wheaton, whom residents of Dundee may recognize as owning the former Wheaton Pharmacy for many years, is working to get the word out about Irlen Syndrome. Mr. Wheaton struggled with reading and perception for most of his life until he was diagnosed with Irlen Syndrome at age 56. I remember I could read aloud in my sixth grade class, said Mr. Wheaton. But when my teacher would ask me questions about what I had just read, I couldn’t answer her. Whenever I tried to read a book in high school, I could only make it through a few pages per session before I would start falling asleep. Then when I would pick up where I left off, I couldn’t remember what I had already read. 

Symptoms of Irlen Syndrome vary from individual to individual. Several different reading distortions have been associated with the syndrome. Flipping letters, such as a b’s and d’s The spacing between letters and words will grow and shrink, maybe only a portion of the page of a book may be clear, or the lines off a paragraph will appear in waves instead of a straight line.Irlen Syndrome has been most associated with reading problems because the most noticeable distortions are when an individual tries to read black letters on white paper. I would find it easier to read white letters on black paper, said Mr. Wheaton. Or I would try to write my notes on yellow or pink notepads.

Irlen Syndrome doesn’t just affect reading. It can affect other aspects of life as well. My depth perception was off, said Mr. Wheaton. When I drove, I could never gauge if I had enough time to pass a car on a two lane road. Or I would stop very late when coming up behind a car. When I was in the eighth grade, I saved for a camera and taught myself how to create a depth of field effect. I felt guilty altering the image so that both the foreground and the background were in focus. I had no idea that people normally could see this way.

Mr. Wheaton struggled with these symptoms and much more until he was 56 and saw a special about Irlen Syndrome on 60 Minutes. He had himself tested and with the help of the Irlen Method, a whole new world has been opened up to him.The Irlen Method involves the use of Irlen colored filters that block out the wavelength of light causing the distortion effects. The overlay filters are colored and looking through one will color the world. So another layer, a tinted glasses or contacts, is used to null out the color and make the world clear and rightfully colored.

With a new world opened up to him, Mr. Wheaton has created a website dedicated to spreading the word about Irlen Syndrome. His website,, is a blog style telling of his story. He keeps up to date with the latest information and strongly supports, a website for testing and diagnosing of the syndrome.”Its sad that so many people are affecting by this and don’t even know it, said Mr. Wheaton. 46% of kids with learning disorders can be treated with the Irlen Method. Many people have come through Mr. Wheaton to get information and advice. The extent to which it effects people is bad, said Mr. Wheaton. “Some people have to sit in a chair upside down to read. Some have to turn their computer monitor upside down just to read it. Irlen Syndrome is an inherited disease but can also be caused from a head injury or trauma.

Mr. Wheaton’s son was recently diagnosed with the syndrome.My son had headaches for years, said Mr. Wheaton. We flew him out to California; he got the overlays, and he said goodbye to his headaches. To be tested for Irlen Syndrome, you must go to a specialized diagnostician. There are only two in Michigan. Mr. Wheaton was tested by Ann Bonvallet in Ann Arbor. To reach Mrs. Bonvallet, call 734-663-5590. The International Headquarters is located in Long Beach, Calif. For more information, call 562-496-2550 or visit the website You can also contact Mr. Wheaton through his website,

Woman Spreads Word of Irlen Syndrome

This story appeared in the Carroll County Times:

“Judi Garcia, a resident of Carroll Lutheran Village, spent her entire childhood and most of her adulthood struggling to read print.

She said that even though she wore glasses, the words had always appeared washed out and oddly spaced, which forced her to work twice has hard to maintain straight A’s in school and caused her stress throughout most of her life. Bright lights aggravated the problem, and she found comfort in reading under her bed…”

Read the full article here …

A recent success presented itself in Japan

This story appeared in the Manchester Evening News recently:

“A DYSLEXIC student who learned to read and write upside down and back to front before overcoming her problems with a special orange overlay has seen her life story turned into a Japanese TV show…”

The day we flew our son, Ryan, from Salt Lake City to Long Beach California for diagnosis: Click Title to See Photo

Irlen INstitute

Photo from our trip to The Irlen Institute in Long Beach, California to have our son be diagnosed and receive his Irlen filter tint. Marilyn Ashley,diagnostician, Ryan,Helen Irlen,me and my wife, Karen. Ryan ended his headaches from bright and fluorescent lights. This was a big day in my life. Please e-mail me at

An autistic Named Alex Driving in Boston After She Received Her Irlen lenses: Click on Title to See Images


This is a 2-page spread from the July, 1999 National Geographic article titled “Quest for Color.” Titled “Lost in the No-fun House” it depicts what it was like for an autistic woman named Alex Michaels in Boston before and after receiving her Irlen tinted lenses. With the lenses the image was no longer distorted and she did not perceive the blue color of the tint. This shows the distortions perceived then shows the image she saw once looking through her Irlen filter lenses. Prior to receiving her tinted Irlen filter lenses she had great difficulty recognizing people she knew. She had prosopanosia, like Donna Williams, famous autistic and author. She might recognize a woman’s hairdo because the face was so distorted it resembled a Picaso painting. The facial features were not located in the positions they should be.

You will find more inormation about terms such as face blindness, visual fragmentation, meaning blindness and fragmented bodies by reading Donna Williams’ writings. See links in my Links at the left of the screen. Donna has her own blog which is quite helpful. Find it at

Alex was diagnosed by Ann Bonvallet, located at Visual Perception Testing in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Later she excitedly reported to Ann that when she was driving and someone opened a car door it came out into the street. She suddenly had depth perception for the first time.