In addition to Daniel’s Asperger’s Syndrome, he also has very severe dyslexia. Reading has been the hardest part of his academics by far. His reading teacher worked with him diligently through elementary school. She is now his tutor and has continued to work with him twice a week with reading always being the main focus.
The IEP for Daniel includes the accommodation of having all math and science questions read to him. Even with this accommodation, Daniel’s dyslexia still impacts every area of his academics.
Daniel’s dyslexia also impacts his life. He can not read the instructions that pop up on a video game screen and struggles to read a website about his favorite topic, video game development.
For me, Daniel’s dyslexia has been a personal heartache. It is difficult as a parent to watch my child struggle year in and year out without much improvement. Additionally, I loved to read as a child and looked forward to sharing the books I loved with my son. Daniel’s dyslexia has made reading so uncomfortable, that we have not been able to share this pastime in a way I had always hoped.
With the help of his tutor, Daniel discovered that his particular type of dyslexia is called the River effect (for a better gif go here):
Two years ago, Daniel’s tutor and then teacher suggested trying the Irlen Method. While you can read more about it at the Irlen Institute’s website, the basic idea is that some types of dyslexia are caused by Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome, also known as Irlen Syndrome. It is not an eye problem but rather problem with the brain’s ability to process visual information. The Irlen Method was developed to address this problem.
The cornerstone of the Irlen Method is its precision-tinted colored overlays and filters. They use advanced color spectrometer technology to design overlays and colored glasses that use color balancing designed to produce an effective color-correction tool.
After so many years, I was very skeptical. The testing is expensive and I there had been so many times I had tried something with Daniel, believing it would be the key, only to be disappointed. I had learned over the years that while some therapy or idea may be a piece of the puzzle, none were going to make a huge change.
Daniel’s tutor was insistent and sent me this video, saying, “Maybe this could be Daniel”:
One afternoon I picked Daniel up from his tutor. She was so excited.
“We found a color overlay that worked!” she announced.
After several tries, she and Daniel had identified the type of distortion he was experiencing and had found an overlay she claimed would work.
When we got home that night, Daniel and I sat down to read his Social Studies homework. I was absolutely in shock. Daniel’s fluency and speed was significantly better. Small words that the day before he was stumbling over he read with ease.
He still struggles with some bigger words. However, now, this comes from a bad habit of trying to guess a word from the first three letters instead of reading the whole word – a common result of River Type Distortion.
Daniel is reading more on his own – voluntarily. He doesn’t fight me as much as before to read. He is finding books he likes to read on his own.
I was truly skeptical and now I am truly amazed and thankful that Daniel has found a tool that has made such a profound difference for him. I am also thankful to Daniel’s tutor for working so tirelessly to find a way to help Daniel.