Colored lenses yet again

In a post entitled “Relief in sight for Micheala’s reading disorder,” Jayne Hulbert of the Taranaki (NZ) Daily News describes the case of a child who has been diagnosed as having Irlen Syndrome and is helped by viewing text through colored overlays. It’s the usual….

Micheala Kennard can’t wait to be looking at the world through her orange-tinted glasses.

But for now the Ohawe 11-year-old is making do with a coloured plastic overlay she puts on top whatever she’s reading. The tinted plastic stops words from moving around the page.

Micheala has a visual processing disorder called Irlen syndrome which means when she reads, words jumble and move around.

I do want to note that Ms. Hulbert mentions that there are people who are skeptical about the diagnosis and the efficacy of the interventions.

But, why does the press fall for this sort of story so frequently?

Link to the article. Flash of the electrons to Joanne Meier of Sound it Out for alerting me to the coverage.

2 Responses to “Colored lenses yet again”

  • Because the Irlen “story” is easier to understand than the true complexity of reading disabilities. Because the Irlen Institute (like the Davis Dyslexia treatment) is a for-profit entity, and therefore has better marketing.

    As I wrote in 2006, the first grass-roots dyslexia association in New Zealand wasn’t launched until November of last year.

    It makes me wonder why there is not a uniform approach to reading issues across the English-speaking world.

  • Liz, I agree with your analysis. It is easy and it is marketed. Also, there’s a dash of mystery that makes these sham therapies more attractive. I’m not an avid fan of American football, so I apologize for this metaphor: These approaches are like the “Hail Mary” pass that’s thrown desperately into a pack of players in the end zone, when the way to win the game is to move the ball down the field in an orderly, systematic fashion.

    With regard to your wonder about a uniform approach: I think we are a lot closer to a consistent approach to reading in English—and other alphabetic languages—than we were 20 years ago. In the 1980s, most of us who advocated for explicit, systematic instruction in decoding were dismissed as the lunatic fringe. At least we now have the attention of a larger proportion of the population, no?

    However, I anticipate that the progress we have made toward actually teaching reading, as opposed to providing children with opportunities to read, will be eroded in the future. It’s not exactly a swing of an independently anchored pendulum, but the inevitable push-back that comes from people who newly come to education with a romantic view of children and learning and their unwillingness to make descisions on the basis of strong (rather than anecdotal) evidence. As long a theory trumps facts, it’ll be a struggle.

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