11 year old Mikayla came last week to the Krist Samaritan Irlen Clinic. She experienced colored dots and stars all over the page when trying to read a chapter book.
Visual distortions that people with Irlen Syndrome experience is often to do with the black/white contrast when faced with a page of text. These can manifest as blurry, moving or distorted words. However, some people are stressed out primarily by the white page itself.
11 year old Mikayla had this difficulty. As soon as she looked at a word in a chapter book she saw colored dots and stars all over the page – so usually she avoided these and read graphic novels. Even though she said her eyes and head felt OK when reading she had to put a huge effort into ‘trying to ignore the colors on the page’ and she could only read for a few pages before ‘I just don’t want to read any more’ and ‘my eyes water as I forget to blink’.
Reading avoidance is a common sign of Irlen Syndrome, even if the child hasn’t managed to describe what the page or words are like (as to them they are ‘normal’). Another sign is if they prefer to read in a dimmed room at home or with lights not above them. Some even use the 2nd bunk of a bed!
Interestingly, although Mikayla had never complained previously about text distortions, as her brain was concentrating on the stars, when she found a particular overlay color that calmed the page she noticed that without - the text was ‘fuzzy/soft’ and looking at a Texas STAAR lined page the lines went down and ‘rippled’ – which must make writing composition very confusing!