Once a year I post this article about Irlen Syndrome or SSS (Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome) because my son has Iren Syndrome. He could have grown up to be a functionally illiterate man, if I had not stumbled on a misplaced book. Now he is an avid reader in his twenties. Schools in Canada do not screen for this disability. 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
Iwas 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.
When we learn that 11% to 13% of people have SSS, we were appalled. 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.
One of my daughters phoned yesterday, on the coach with a migraine, only managing to nurse, change, cuddle and play with her baby. Bitter cold kept them indoors. She was feeling as if she hadn’t accomplished anything for days.
I reminded her
I watched her uncle die last month
realizing St. Paul was spot on
only love lasts
we die stripped of accomplishments
The next day she posted this quote from C.S. Lewis, which happens tp be one of my favorite quotes. Of course. this brings to mind my own infamous quote
I always have said, "The only thing that will kill a mother of a large family is attempting to pair all the socks".
Thank heavens I had a wicked sense of humour and an army of free labour. Sometimes we would line up literally hundreds of socks of every possible size and colour as we made a game of pairing socks. For a couple of years, wearing odd socks was in style when my kids were little. Still, I remember many mornings when I frantically tried to find some semblance of a pair while a little one stood in the downstairs hallway, with coat and backpack on, waiting for their socks to sail over the upstairs railing at their feet.
Years later, I still have a basket of unpaired socks waiting to find a new purpose in life as dust rags.
I just discovered two new ways to recycle socks.
1. They make fantastic heating pads! Simply fill thick, comfy socks with dried beans, rice or wheat, tie the end and viola…. an instant, microwaveable heating pad that holds the heat!
2. Now that I have started crocheting amigurumi dolls and animals, unpaired socks make great, free stuffing. Crocheting is a way to give beautiful gifts without having to hand over oodles of cash. If you have 5 grandkids, nine adult kids and in-laws, consider crocheting because it is creative, fun and a cheap way to say I love you.
One of my husband’s brothers died a few days ago. The thought that birth and death are similar kept circulating in my brain as I realized that birth and death are intricately connected. We enter the world and leave it by surrendering to a force which sweeps us along. All we can do is let go of fear and control, let go of the familiar and plunge into the unknown.
When I almost lost a daughter in childbirth last April, I was forcibly struck with this truth Indeed most of the third world faces a real threat of death each time they conceive and face childbirth.
My daughter almost bled out when she lost a litre of blood in mere seconds after an emergency C-section.
I gazed down at her limp form,
As a tear trickled down her pale face.
“I felt myself slipping away…”
My daughter thought for a moment that she was dying.
Actually, she was dying.
Years ago she would have died.
In the third world, she would have died,
As the result of a series of complications that no one could have foreseen.
Her husband carried her weak body to the washroom.
The nurse held her new son’s weight, as she nursed.
Life and death are not as far apart as I had presumed.
Life is precarious.
Life is fragile.
I know each time I gave birth, I panicked at the time of transition, just before it is time to push. It is a pivotal moment of intense pain when my body was pushed to its limits. There was a moment of exhaustion when I foolishly worried the baby was not going to emerge. I had to tell myself that billions of babies have been born into the world, most without the backup of modern medicine should anything go wrong.
The infant also goes through trauma, leaving the safety and protection of the womb only to be thrust out into cold, harsh lights of the outside world. His umbilical cord is severed. Separated from his mother for the first time, he gasps for air and cries pitifully as he experiences hunger and digestion pain for the first time.
In death, once again we must let go of the familiar and surrender to a force which sweeps us through the veil separating life and death to emerge on the other side. Fear and even terror grips most humans because we face the unknown. For most people, as the body slowly shuts down, they experience pain. Watching my brother-in-law struggle with his last laboured breaths was agonizing. Yet I experienced moments of joy when I connected to Marc’s spirit and I knew he was about to be reborn and emerge on the other side just as he did when he was first born into this world.
Marc Edward Juneau of Metcalfe passed away on December 30, 2014 at age 57 after a brave battle with cancer at the Ottawa General Hospital while surrounded by his family and friends. He is dearly loved and remembered and will be missed by his wife Mary-Ann (nee Broda), his son Joshua (Shelby), and his granddaughter Seirra. Also, dearly loved by daughter Jennifer Brohman. Son of Alison and the late Robert Juneau. Brother to Bob (Gina), Michael (Melanie), Bill (Karen), Sue Willis (Ron), Peter (Wendy), Lise, John, Joseph (Sally) and the late Patrick. Family and friends are invited to pay their respects at the Daley Family Funeral Home, 6971 Bank St. (between Scrivens Dr. and Metcalfe Corner) on Sunday, January 4, 2015 from 2-4 & 7-9 pm. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Catherine of Siena Church, Metcalfe on Monday, January 5, 2015 at 11 am. In memory of Marc, donations to the Canadian Cancer Society would be most appreciated by the family.