The majority of people have heard of the general term ‘dyslexia’ but little awareness exists of Irlen Syndrome, formerly known as Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome (SSS).
Irlen Syndrome is a problem with the brain’s ability to process visual information and can affect many different areas, including academic and work performance, behaviour, attention and concentration, and is addressed with precision-tinted colored overlays and filters, or ‘coloured glasses’.
According to local woman Ruth Simmons, a visual perception specialist, between 15 to 20 per cent of people, including herself, have Irlen Syndrome in mild or severe cases.
“Dyslexia is the umbrella term for Irlen Syndrome, like dementia and Alzheimers,” she said.
“Indicators can include slow and hesitant reading, skipping words or lines, not recognising common words, confusion of letters, number reversals, spelling difficulties, poor handwriting skills and clumsiness.”
Ms Simmons was diagnosed with Irlen Syndrome when she was in year 12, and has been compelled to raise awareness of an issue which can sometimes go undiagnosed.
Local girl Sarah Jackson and Ms Simmons’ daughter Elissa are just two of the students at Narromine Public School with Irlen Syndrome.
Now in year five, Sarah was diagnosed two years ago after completing an online survey which indicated she had Irlen Syndrome. The Jackon’s then went to Sydney to meet with Irlen regional director Darren Thomas.
Ms Simmons is urging parents or carers who think their child may have issues with reading, to give her a call.
“I offer clients an initial assessment to see if problems with reading could be due to visual stress,” she said.
Ordinarily to visit Darren Thomas after a consult with Ms Simmons, it would incur a trip to a capital city, but from June 4 to 6 he will be in Orange.
“I do urge concerned parents or carers to give me a call before then, on 6889 8393, email at firstname.lastname@example.org or look at my website www.coloursreading
help.com,” she said.