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They only found out that Jaša had serious reading problems when he was in seventh grade. Foto: Mojca Senica

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The Irlen syndrome causes reading problems and turns school into hell

Jaša thought he wasn't as "smart" as others
9. November 2018 ob 11:19
Ljubljana - MMC RTV SLO

"When light reflects from white paper, it irritates my eyes. It's uncomfortable to look at, the letters change… I mean the letters I concentrate on are still OK, but everything around them becomes obscure and moves."

When a green overlay covers a text, the letters "calm down" and reading becomes a less "irritating" task. Even better is wearing glasses with a special filter which neutralizes the whiteboard in a class, the white desk etc., explains Jaša, who has the Scoptic sensitivity syndrome, also referred to as the Irlen syndrome.

They only found out that Jaša had serious reading problems when he was in seventh grade. Jaša is now a student. "A special educator established that he had no dyslexia and a psychologist said he had poor focus and attention, and that he would never be able to read well," his mother Saša Žnidar tells the story. They found out what the real problem was by accident, while watching TV with Jaša when his was in his third year in high school. "Professor Ana Krajnc, PhD, was giving an interview for one of the local TV stations, in which she described the reading problems kids with the Irlen syndrome have. It suddenly dawned on me, yes, that's how Jaša reads!" she remembers. They paid a visit to the Institute of Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome in Ljubljana, where they confirmed the diagnosis. He first received the green overlay for reading, and then also the special glasses.

Before doing his matura high-school graduation exam, Jaša requested that his exam be printed on green paper. The National Examinations Centre (RIC) rejected his request. "Jaša's request included an expert opinion proposing a green exam paper, but the centre said it could not provide for such an adjustment, and only agreed to give him extra time to complete the exam," added Mrs Žnidar. According to her opinion, very little is known about the Irlen syndrome in our society. Special educators do know that coloured paper does make it easier for children to read, but very few people know about the Irlen syndrome.

Gorazd Kosmač, MMc; translated by K. J.
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