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Get Ahead Kids - Vol. 6, No. 1 - January/February 2014

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A New Year, A New Class, New Friends!

By Dr. Joan Brien

Most children look forward to moving on to the next year of their schooling because it means that they are "growing up". For some, this excitement will change to despair when they realise that they cannot do the work required in the new class.

These children may or may not have been struggling in the previous year, and if not, then when they begin to struggle with the new concepts and knowledge that they are expected to learn, they become frustrated and may even start to display bad behaviour in class.

This is often a difficult time for the parents of those children as well, because they cannot understand why their child was having no problems with the work in the previous year, but suddenly seems unable to cope with the new work.

If this happens to your child, then please consider the following information. Many children are quite good students in Kindergarten, Years 1, 2 and 3 but sometimes, they begin to struggle in Years 3 or 4.

There seems to be no obvious reason for them to suddenly start to struggle, and parents often think that they are just "not trying", so the children start to experience a lot of parental pressure to succeed.

Much of their lack of success is related to an emerging reluctance to read, to do their homework and in some cases a general lack of interest in school.

They may even begin to try to avoid going to school by reporting that they are sick on a regular basis.

A common cause of the behaviours reported above is Irlen Syndrome. This is a visual processing dysfunction that often does not appear until years 3 or 4 when the print starts to become smaller and closer together.

The children do not realise what is happening, but when the print gets smaller, the words get closer together and the lines of print also get closer together. This makes the page look "busier".

In other words, there is a lot of surrounding information present whenever they are focusing on one word, as you do when reading. This is why difficulties often are not identified until the children move into these years.

Please do not consider that your child is suddenly "not trying", but rather that something has changed for them, making them reluctant to do their schoolwork. If they do not have a vision problem, or a medical problem then you should consider Irlen Syndrome as the possible problem.

It is easy to have your child assessed at an Irlen Clinic. If your child does have Irlen Syndrome, it is easy to treat.

Checklist for Irlen Syndrome

  • Does your child have trouble reading?
  • Do they reverse letters (like b & d, p & q) & words like "no" & "on", "was" & "saw"?
  • Are they reluctant to read?
  • Do they get sore eyes & come home from school tired?
  • Do they have difficulty with comprehension?
  • Do they get headaches regularly?

More Information

Dr. Joan Brien
Certified Irlen Diagnostician
Irlen Diagnostic Clinic
Suite 3/136 Nelson St.
Wallsend NSW 2287
P: 02 4955 6904
F: 02 4965 6894


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