1. What is meant by a specific learning difficulty and is it a common condition?
One in 10 people has a specific learning difficulty which affects the development of their language skills. The most common problem is a specific reading difficulty.
Certain visual problems can contribute to the reading difficulty, for example, a reduced ability to focus. Such visual problems can cause eyestrain, visual distortions or headaches. However they are usually treatable.
There is now scientific research to show that both coloured plastic sheets laid over text (known as overlays) and coloured filters (worn as spectacles) can help.
2. How can visual perception distortion be spotted?
Visual perception distortion should be suspected in children who have trouble learning to read, particularly if they report headaches and eye-strain from prolonged exposure to the page. If the child reports any illusory movement of the letters or words, or glare from the white paper, then treatment with coloured overlays or filters should be considered.
3. What proportion of children can benefit?
Research has shown that about 20% of the children in a school study found one or other of the coloured overlays improved the clarity of the text. They read more quickly with their overlay, both before and after they had become accustomed to its use.
4. Can adults be affected?
Yes. Although some people “grow out” of the condition, many do not. Sadly, visual perception distortion is not often recognized in children and many sufferers enter adulthood without ever having been treated. We offer assessment and treatment for adults and are happy to discuss any problems you may be experiencing.
Individuals with dyslexia may have difficulties of a linguistic nature which need to be addressed separately. Dyslexic children are usually poor at spelling and may seem intelligent in conversation but have trouble with written language. The term dyslexia is usually reserved for a severe degree of reading difficulty. Adults who are dyslexic find the condition restrictive in terms of the activities they can enjoy and they are encouraged to seek help.
Diagnostic assessment and treatment of dyslexia for students attending university may be funded by a disability allowance.