The discovery of Irlen syndrome
In 1980 Helen Irlen was director of the programme for adults with learning disabilities at California State University Long Beach. After having worked for 15 years as a school psychologist, it was self-evident that the tests included in the psycho-educational battery were able to identify the reason why only some children were struggling or misbehaving. For many children, the tests did not provide an answer and these children continued to think of themselves as lazy, dumb, stupid, or bad. Irlen was convinced that the professionals were not asking enough questions and not the right questions. She felt that the tests were not identifying all of the problems that were holding these children back from being successful in school, and later at college.
Irlen felt strongly that the way to identify these other difficulties was to look at the adults who were still struggling -- to find out what were the factors that stayed with an individual and continued to limit their access to learning and achievement. It was important to look at adults to find out this information because this would highlight problems that did not go away with maturation and/or motivation. Therefore, one important aspect of the university programme was a federal research project to study those adults who were bright enough and motivated enough to undertake a four year college course but were still struggling academically.
The research project was conducted over a five year period from 1980 to 1985 with over 1,500 adults, some students, and then expanded to nonstudents. It was determined that a number of factors were being ignored by the medical and educational establishments, including those listed above. In addition, many of the students expressed concerns about their inability to read.
You can obtain additional information regarding the history and development of the Irlen Method, in Helen Irlen’s books usually in stock at Amazon
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