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Get Ahead Kids - Vol. 3, No. 2 - March/April 2011

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Does Your Child Have Difficulty Catching a Ball on the Full?

By Dr. Joan Brien

Not all children are "sporty" and for those that are not, the frustration that they feel when they are expected to perform competently on the sporting field can leave them feeling that there is something wrong with them.
Some of these children that don't perform well in sport may also be having difficulties with learning at school. These can lead to further frustration and to children eventually "giving up".

It is prudent for parents of these children to get their child's vision tested to make sure that there is not a vision problem causing their difficulties with both in sport and learning.

If a child does not have a vision problem but they do have a problem catching a ball on the full, getting on and off escalators or any other tasks that require judgement of distances, it may well be worth considering investigating if they have the Irlen Syndrome.

The Irlen Syndrome is a visual perceptual dysfunction, which means that the brain has difficulties "seeing" letters, numbers and/or words and can also affect depth perception.

People who have depth perception problems cannot judge distances well, so they often are considered clumsy as they seem to walk into the edges of doorways, tables and cannot catch a ball on the full, sometimes cannot play sports such as squash, tennis or cricket because they all require us to judge the distance of objects as the approach our bodies and for us to react accordingly to catch or hit them.

Difficulties with "sport" by themselves may not indicate the presence of the Irlen Syndrome, but if your child is also having learning difficulties, especially with reading and/or spelling it is worth considering Irlen as the possible cause.

The Irlen Syndrome is the result of a person's sensitivity to particular colours of the visible spectrum (the rainbow) and these colours interfere with the functioning of the visual pathways that connect our eyes and the visual cortex of the brain.

A short test that can be used to determine if your child has some of the symptoms of Irlen Syndrome is available on the opposite page.

If you suspect your child may have the Irlen Syndrome please contact the Irlen Diagnostic Clinic for an appointment.

More Information

Dr. Joan Brien
Irlen Diagnostic Clinic
Suite 2/136 Nelson St.
Wallsend NSW 2287
P: 02 4955 6904


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If you tick more than four of the symptoms, it may be an indication that the Irlen Syndrome may be causing the problems.

Words blurring, moving, shaking
Tiredness after a short time of
Sensitivity to light or glare
Having to reread lines of print
Difficulty maintaining concentration
       when reading
Missing words or lines when
Difficulty with comprehension
Untidy writing
Watery, itchy or stinging eyes when

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