Saturday, 5 May 2012

How do you notice if a child has a learning difficulty?

I have mentioned in previous posts how I discovered that N has Visual Stress.  I have mentioned Visual Stress before in previous posts like this one: Poems, Dinosaurs and Visual Stress, but to be honest never realised, until last night, the degree of difficulty it cause N.

There is no doubt that over the last 6 months or so there has been an incredible improvement in N's learning as well as the speed she does it.  Also when she reads a book she is actually able to take in what she is reading.  Along with all of this her spelling has greatly improved, she smiles more and is very rarely stressed when learning anything.  This is all since using the overlay.



I thought that she would just lose her place when reading, the lines would jump that kind of thing - I suppose I was hoping she wouldn't have it as severely as I had - but then there was last night's conversation.  Last night N started talking about a book that she's had upstairs as her night time read, a Jane Blonde book I had read about on Katie Pybus' Blog.  N lost her overlay, well misplaced it really, for a few weeks and she refused to read and was going back to being quite upset about reading her books.  I hadn't realised she hadn't got it at that until the other night, I hadn't pushed her, but I was becoming more curious.  As soon as she told me she had lost her reading aide I went and hunted it down for her. 

She had attempted to read a couple of times during the time she had no reading aide but when I asked her what her book was about she had no idea.  All of a sudden she was back to enthusiastically telling me about the book she was reading.  I asked her how come you're telling me about it now?   Then I remembered that she got her green overlay sheet back yesterday evening and asked her a different question: What is it like to read without your green overlay?  She said she just can't.  She told me how the letters move off one word over the over side of the page and that all the other words just move around over the place. 

I suffer with visual stress myself and now I am older it is a lot better but I completely empathised with N.  It is so tiring on the eyes, but so much more upsetting when you're younger trying to learn to read with it.  I don't know about anyone else out there that has Visual Stress (there are other names for it I know) but I found that when I was younger, reading was impossible, especially through stressful times, which in my childhood there were many of these times.  I used to love being read to (which didn't happen often), I also loved films (which is where I learnt most stories from my childhood).  I have also found that with age my visual stress has improved, however I find that if I do get upset (I don't have to be tired) I can't read no matter how hard I try at these times.

I had a most horrid experience at school, always had I been embarrassed when reading out loud at school, but there was one awful occasion.  The children and the teacher were laughing.  The children taunting saying I couldn't read, which wasn't true, the stress of reading in front of a class of children in a new school was so stressful, I couldn't see the words on my page, it looked more like a code book to me.  It upset me so much I remember afterwards saying to my mum: 'I'm worried I won't be able to read a bedtime story to my children when I'm older.'  No one really understood Visual Stress then, they didn't understand how one day I was ok and the next struggling I suppose.

I am so pleased that N has never been to school on account of her Visual Stress.  Ok there are all the other very important reasons but there is nothing better than one on one to spot this sort of learning difficulty.  I still wish I could have spotted bit earlier.  When I saw the specialist at the hospital when we were looking into Chiara's squint, the topic of visual stress came up - It appears Chiara does not to have Visual Stress after all fortunately. The Specialist was interested however, that I had had it myself and still at times suffer with it.  She had asked me to keep an eye out for it in the others as it is often hereditary.  She was also thrilled to hear that I home educated and and thought it the absolute best things for children with visual stress.  She too had wanted to home educate, but like so many people I meet, felt she wouldn't be able to; she felt she wasn't 'bright enough'. 

I am so proud of my N reading so well for her age now, after the struggle to get there.  We have found lots of different ways to help her over the years.  The best thing about home education for her in this situation, is she is able to tell me straight away when something is wrong.  Hurrah for home education!

10 comments:

  1. Visual stress aka scotopic sensitivity or Irlen Syndrome. Yup I have it. I have Irlen lenses - same prescription now for 16 years. Most people think my glasses are sunglasses (they are a dark green). I cannot drive without them and they have changed my life. I no longer have headaches every day.........

    Diagnosis and lenses have cost me a fortune.

    Good luck with it! Glad the overlays work. They don't for me....

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    1. Oh the headaches used to be awful when I was growing up. Sorry to hear the overlays don't work for you :(

      A friend of mine mentioned the work of prof john stein. She says she takes cod liver oil everyday and no longer uses overlays. You obviously have a much more severe version than myself but I am now curious to whether the cod liver oil makes a difference. Anything's worth a go. I'll let you know how it goes. x

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    2. Sorry to jump in but we give our daughter omega 3's and I think they have helped enormously. When there are gaps of a week or two without them if we have forgotten to stock up we notice the difference. Strange but true!

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    3. Don't be sorry Angela, thank you for letting us know. I'm definitely going to try this! :)

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  2. Twinbo 1 had the Irlen Syndrome test on the back of a dyslexia screening at age 7. She has pink tinted glasses. She struggled with reading but we took her out of school and just stopped the whole pressure to read thing completely. If she didn't want to pick up a book then fine don't. This went on for a couple of years. Now at 10 she reads for pleasure, not whole books as they still tire her out and she opts for audio but she does pick them up and reads many other things naturally in life as we do. Her spelling has improved when she chooses to write and her spoken English is and always was excellent. I consider that the pressure taken away and the time to develop naturally has been key in all of this perhaps even more so than the pink tinted glasses (though they help) and even the Toe by Toe we try from time to time. There is no doubt in my mind that HE was the best choice for her. I blogged about the success too as it's a real achievement to the child with difficulties and us parents! Congratulations N x http://themasterplanandme.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/decides-to-read-books-at-age-10-so.html

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    1. Brilliant to see Twinbo 1 doing so well! A lot of it is not having to learn under pressure! Well done both of you! x

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  3. Just noticed the Archimedes bath book and the finger pointing to the bottom. Made me laugh my girls love the bottoms in that book!

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    1. Toilet humour is big in this house lol x :)

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  4. I was diagnosed with Irlen Syndrome and Dyslexia aged 43. Lenses were the only option and quite frankly have changed my life. I have no idea how i got through school, college and university, but somehow I did. Hope everything works out for you :))

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    1. Wow! You really have achieved a lot! Well done for not letting it beat you. What an inspiration to others who suffer the same! As I already said on FB, Thank you :) I hope everything works out for us too x

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