This blog is not FDA approved
Like all bloggers who post here on BBW, I’m honoured to be asked to contribute an aspect of my story. All images were found via Google.
What would you see if you were to stare at your own face in a mirror for between 30 seconds and a minute? What happens to your reflection? Does everything stay put, or do things start to go a bit, well, Picasso? When I stare at my reflection in this manner, my nose starts to bulge, my cheekbones decide to head in the direction of my ears, my eyebrows become a monobrow and basically, I start to look most weird.
Kind of a bit like this, really.
What about when you look at the following images?
I actually can’t look at that last image. It makes my eyeballs feel like they’re being stabbed with needles, and if I look at it for too long, I will then get a headache, and if I look at it for much longer after that, I’ll start to feel sick. I’ve typed this in a word document and am editing it in the text option rather than the visual option for writing a new post.
I’ve always been a bit clumsy, to the point where I remember teaching myself to catch, because my co-ordination was so poor that I generally missed the ball. I’ve always loved reading and playing music, but never really thought it odd that I would see patterns in the text – the words would move a bit on the page and there would be little paths caused by the spaces between the words. I remember once being at the hospital waiting for an appointment and being bored, I was staring at the carpet. The most amazing thing happened; the carpet pattern became sort of 3D and was on two levels and one level was running over the other level. I then found I could create the same effect with the fabric that was on the roof of my mum’s car. White spaces on the computer screen sometimes have a grey tint that doesn’t keep still, or if it’s a really bright screen and I’m very tired, they start to flash and sparkle – rather like the special effects used in the movies made of a well-known teen vampire saga, only I don’t get the “glingle-glingle-glingle” sound effects.
In 2006, I moved to Chester (Cheshire, UK) and was lodging with a couple from church, Penny and Keith. Penny is a specialist teacher for children with dyslexia, and was training to be able to screen her pupils for Irlen. As part of the training, she had find ten willing volunteers to be screened, and given that I was living under her roof, I couldn’t exactly refuse. I came out on the Irlen scale, although not particularly high up. I can live without having my work printed on coloured paper, without having the overlays and without having to have coloured glasses.
Irlen is not a problem with the eyes. It’s to do with the wiring in the brain, and how the brain deals with the information it receives from the light. And the way the brain does this can change over time.
Before I joined the Religious Order I’m in, I was working for an on-line Christian retailer. When I started there, the office was pleasing to be in, with magnolia paint on the wall. However, they shortly moved premises to a place with rather more space (which was needed). The new offices had white walls, where the builders had basically just painted the breeze blocks.
A bit like this but bright white.
I was sat right underneath a bright light, and the screens I had to use on a daily basis to do the job I was doing were also not helpful. One screen in particular became like the above optical illusion images. I told the management about the result of the Irlen screening, and that some of the screens weren’t helpful and that certainly the white walls weren’t either. They weren’t exactly helpful, but fortunately one of the IT chaps was able to change one of the screens to make it more bareable – especially after he’d looked at it and realised that it was impossible to look at.
The company moved offices again not too long before I finally left. In the new offices, there was new furniture. The colour of the walls where again white breeze block. The colour of the new desks? White. Apparently this was to be in keeping with the company colour scheme, which is blue, white and green. I resorted to covering the desk in a piece of green cloth I had at home, so that I could sit at my desk. On days when the sun was particularly bright, I would also wear my sunglasses in the office.
I regularly went home from work with a headache – leaving was the best thing for me! I suspect that if I were to go back to an office environment, I would probably have to get the tinted lenses for my glasses.
I have a separate case study too, to highlight just how much it can affect a person. Penny told me about one of her pupils, who scored very, very high when he was screened. I can’t remember his name, so I’ll call him Simon.
Simon was very dyslexic and struggled to read, which was why he was having lessons with Penny in the first place. Penny decided that he needed to be screened because Simon would walk around with his hands over his head, to try to block the light out. He wasn’t able to judge distances, and so if he thought someone was standing too close to him, he’d lash out with his fists. Simon couldn’t see the board in the classroom clearly, and couldn’t concentrate. His behaviour was borderline AD(H)D, and the Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator (SENCO) at the school was quite worried about whether he should be in mainstream education.
Penny screened him for Irlen, with his parents’ permission, and he scored high. High enough to need the tinted lenses. With the SENCO, Penny arranged for Simon to be able to go to a nearby Irlen Centre to be screened for glasses (as the screening Penny can do is for overlays only). Simon sat in the chair like at the optician, with the adjustable frames, and they spent the time to work out what colour combination was the correct combination for his glasses (which would be different to the combination for the overlay).
For the first time in his life, Simon was able to see without feeling like he was being stabbed in the eyes. He was able to hold his head up without having to protect it with his arms. He could see how far way someone was. He cried when he had to take off the optician’s glasses.
The Irlen Centre normally take 4 to 6 weeks to process a new pair of glasses. In this instance, they fast-tracked them, and Simon got his new glasses after two weeks.
The report from his teachers was one of complete astonishment. They all said it was like having a different child in school. He no longer tried to punch people who were standing too close, because he could now see that they weren’t. He could see clearly to read and write. He could see the board. He could participate in class, because he was now able to pay attention.
If you want to know more about Irlen and how to live with it, and how to be screened, visit the websites I’ve mentioned. If you’re outside the UK or the USA, speak to your medical practioner; if they don’t know about Irlen, ask them to find out. For a person with AD(H)D, Autism, Aspergers, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, unexplained headaches or migranes, having this screening done may just make a huge difference to their ability to take part in life.