Swirling Letters

The True Power of Parenting ( A free magazine for i am program subscribers) has published Swirling Letters, an article  that I have already published . Since I was not really promoting this blog in November, I want to publish this post a second time.  I am adamant that the public become aware of a reading disability that affects 11-13% of the population and is usually never detected.

Quite by accident, we discovered why our 11-year-old son could not read


10-13% of the population has Iren Syndrome or SSS (Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome) and are functionally illiterate, most are never diagnosed.

I was gathering books to return to friends one day when the book Reading by Colors by Carol Irlen caught my eye. As I was skimming through it, 11 year-old Anthony looked over my shoulder and said in a surprised voice, “Gee, those words look nice.”

I turned to him and said, “What do you mean NICE?”

Anthony explained, “The words are flat with the page and they’re not moving.”

I sputtered, “What do you mean not moving?”

Anthony shrugged his shoulders and said, “You know, the letters aren’t shaking and they’re not high off the page.”

I shook my head, “No, I don’t know what you mean.”

This particular page was grey with blue letters. I quickly turned the page to a white one with black letters. Anthony wrinkled his forehead and described what he saw when he looked at the printed page.

Everything clicked into place as I did research into Irlen Syndrome or SSS (Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome); I realized that Anthony had every symptom. SSS is a learning disability that causes difficulties with reading as well as encoding and decoding verbal information. Unbelievably many eye specialists refuse to acknowledge Irlen syndrome, probably because a normal educator, teaching illiterate adults in California discovered the problem and the solution, not a scientist.

We struggled for years to teach our intelligent son how to read. It was sheer agony. Anthony couldn’t sit still, he’d lose his place, forget what he had read 30 seconds after he had read it. After ten minutes of struggling, he would start rubbing his forehead, complain that his head hurt and he felt sick. This kid had perfect eyesight, was smart as a whip, especially in Math but he could barely read.

No one in the school system knew anything about this handicap. I finally a found a private screener in Ottawa, Adel Francis. She discovered that Anthony had not one but five different distortions, each one corrected with a different coloured lens. Within two hours of testing, after Adele had pointed out a few complicated words, Anthony read smoothly and flawlessly at a grade NINE level. We came to tears because we had pushed and badgered our son for years, when he just couldn’t see the way most other people do.

We were appalled to learn that 11% to 13% of people have SSS. So much potential wasted, so many people frustrated, unfilled, feeling dumb with many ending up in jail.

Everything changed rapidly once Anthony started to wear his miracle lenses. The first night we read together after he started wearing his dark blue, grey glasses, Anthony moved the page close to his face and then back again. He then turned to me with a puzzled look on his face and asked, “Getting has two t’s in it??!”

One night after supper, when the younger children had left the table to play, my oldest daughter laughed and said,

“Hey, I just realized that we don’t have to send Anthony away if we want to discuss an adult topic; we’ll just take off his glass!”

We all laughed of course.

Then there was the time a friend tried to cut Anthony’s hair. He couldn’t seem to stop squirming. One of my daughter’s, Rachel, suggested, “Why don’t you try putting on his glasses?”

Anthony put them on and he sat as still as a stone statue.

“Oh my god, I don’t believe it,” my friend yelled, “Everyone come see this. Okay, Anthony, take your glasses off and then put them on when I tell you.”

The difference was so dramatic and everyone’s reaction was so funny that even Anthony started to laugh.


19 thoughts on “Swirling Letters

  1. Thanks for sharing this. This is truly much needed information! It is so sad when they label a child “hyper” and they need “meds” blah, blah, blah, and the reason they are acting up in class is because they are bored, because they cannot read! Good post and God Bless, SR


      1. Definitely! I will keep this into consideration too. I am currently trying to understand my son and why there seems to be a disconnect between his short and long term memory… I am ALWAYS interested in learning how and why things work with children.


      2. I’m sure neither of mine have it, but I have lots of friends with kids and plan on having more so I will keep the symptoms and name in mind. Seems like it is often misdiagnosed and I’m not a fan of ADHD diagnosis…


  2. Beautiful story and very helpful for those struggling with this challenge. So happy for Anthony to have an answer to his challenges, now his parents can move on and upwards to help him in every way. I am blessed that both my two are very good readers, self esteem being a very important part of each child’s growth and it is sad to say even other conditions like dyslexia don’t get the funding or support needed in schools today. As a parent with a special needs child I always say N is for never give up, especially if you suspect something is not quite right with your child. Thanks for sharing this Melanie.


  3. how old is Anthony now? Does he still use the miracle glasses?
    I love the fact that you and your other kids were able to find some laughter in what appears to be a difficult situation teaching your son how to read… blessings!


    1. Anthony is 20, loves to read and YES STILL WEARS HIS MIRACLE LENSES. TILL 18, HE WORE THEM all THE TIME, EVERY MINUTE OF HIS DAY- now just to read but he really should wear them constantly because depth perception, peripheral vision and light still affects him


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s