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2016 A Year In Review

We have been busy this year! Generosity from people like you has helped us change lives, advance research, and spread the word. Read below to find out more about specific projects and programs we funded in 2016, and learn about what we have in store for 2017.

Research At Cornell University

ISF awarded Cornell University neuroscientist, Dr. Adam Anderson, and his team of researchers at the Cognition and Affect Lab an ISF Research Grant to support their current brain imaging research. Dr. Anderson and his team are using fMRI to show that colors alter the speed with which visual stimuli are processed and perceived. They are examining the brain bases of this finding with the hope of providing objective evidence for a widespread role of color in shaping visual sensory cortical processing and its influences on higher-order brain regions.  By influencing how visual sensory cortices communicate with higher brain regions, color filters may regulate brain activity patterns supporting various forms of high level cognition.

15 Individual Scholarship Awards

ISF awarded aid scholarships to 15 individuals this year. These scholarships provided diagnostic testing and Irlen Spectral Filters for individuals who would otherwise not be able to afford Irlen services. Among our group of 2016 scholarship recipients, we had 5 youth from the juvenile justice system, a former law enforcement officer whose on the job brain injury resulted in migraines, vertigo, and seizures that prevent her from working, and a high school student who missed over 50 days of school this year because of migraines and extreme fatigue caused by light sensitivity.

New Pilot School in Philadelphia

ISF awarded an Irlen Pilot School Program Grant to the Mastery Charter School Pickett Campus in Philadelphia, PA. Mastery Charter services a particularly high percentage of at-risk students in grades 6-12, with over 25% of the student body identified as having some type of specific learning disability. As an Irlen Pilot School, Master Charter will implement screening for Irlen Syndrome and provide colored overlays to students who require intervention. Student progress and improvement will be tracked and analyzed over a 1 year intervention period. Find out more about our pilot school program.

Outreach in Ghana

ISF partnered with the nonprofit, CLED – Campaign for Learning Disabilities, to educate teachers in Ghana about Irlen Syndrome and strategies for supporting students with the condition. CLED-Campaign for Learning Disabilities is a grassroot NGO with the goal of helping children with learning disabilities and co-occurring difficulties to improve their learning  and reach their potential so that they can become valued members of their community. CLED trains parents, teachers, and communities on different subjects related to the needs of children with learning disabilities and co-occurring difficulties. We are excited about this new international partnership, and the opportunity to bring solutions for Irlen Syndrome to school children in Ghana.

Our Plans for 2017

In the coming year, ISF plans to double the number of scholarships awarded in 2016, add another Irlen Pilot School to service and support an entire student body, and increase our support of cutting-edge research that will help make assistance for Irlen Syndrome more available. You can make a difference too. Did you know that a $5 gift to ISF is enough to provide colored overlays for 2 children? Your generosity makes our work possible, and changes the lives of hundreds of children and adults every year. MAKE A DONATION

Updates on Irlen Research at Cornell University

From the Desk of Professor Adam Anderson, Director of the Affect and Cognition Lab
October 13, 2016

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“Color alters brain activity in ways that extend well beyond color perception to
influence brain regions supporting perception, thought, language, and emotion.”

 

Study #1: How Color Affects Brain Activity
We have just finished our first study on color and brain activity. In our efforts to understand the role of color on brain function, we examined how different colors influence brain activity patterns. Well beyond color perception, we found colors have distinct roles not only in altering visual system activity, including the primary visual cortex and the thalamus, but also higher level regions including the parahippocampal gyrus (involved in representing the environment) and the middle temporal gyrus (involved in language processing and motion perception).  We also found colors influence limbic regions involved in emotions and feelings, including the anterior insula (emotional body states) and the ventral tegmental area (VTA, a region that produces Dopamine, a neurochemical that influences reward processing and cognition throughout the cortex).  In sum, color alters brain activity in ways that extend well beyond color perception to influence brain regions supporting perception, thought, language and emotion. Although preliminary, such results provide foundational support for color filters as means to alter brain activity patterns in focal brain regions, and the functions these regions support. These results lay the foundational neuroscience groundwork for future studies looking specifically at Irlen Spectral Filters.

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Study #2: How Color Influences Perception, Cognition, and Emotion: Irlen as a Brain-Based Condition
In our current study, we are building upon our earlier findings and undertaking more focused examinations of the influence of color on how information from the eye is represented in the brain, and the transmission of that information to the higher order portions of the brain that support perception, cognition (e.g., language and thought), and emotion. This study also assesses how colors influence brain activity to alter performance on tasks, including perceptual, cognitive and affective judgments. Results from this research will shed light on the neural mechanisms by which color can modulate brain activity and alter brain function.  This study also examines the presence of Irlen Syndrome symptoms in the population at large, their neural bases, and whether these patterns of neural dysregulation are altered by color.  These findings should help establish how, rather than a retinal visual disorder, Irlen Syndrome arises from dysregulated brain networks, with different brain regions supporting specific symptoms.

Help us support research that helps us better understand Irlen Syndrome, visit www.irlensyndrome.org and pledge your support today. The Irlen Syndrome Foundation is a 501(3)(c) charity organization. Donations are tax deductible. Our federal tax ID is 33-0409023.

The ISF Pat Johnson Memorial Scholarship

The Pat Johnson Memorial Scholarship

In Memory of Dr. Pat Johnson, Irlen Diagnostician

Pat Johnson

 

A key mission of the Irlen Syndrome Foundation is to increase accessibility of Irlen services. Dr. Patricia Johnson believed in this mission passionately, and in over two decades with the Irlen organization, she trained thousands of professionals in the Irlen Method across Texas and surrounding southern states. The Pat Johnson Memorial Scholarship, offered by the Irlen Syndrome Foundation, honors Dr. Pat Johnson’s tireless efforts to bring Irlen Syndrome and the Irlen Method to children and adults suffering from Irlen Syndrome. In the spirit of Dr. Johnson’s tenacity, intellectual prowess, and overwhelming desire to change lives for the better, the Pat Johnson Memorial Scholarship will continue her legacy by making Irlen services available to those in need.

Dr. Johnson was with the Irlen organization for 22 years. She was an instrumental force in growing one of the strongest networks of Irlen Practitioners in the world, training Irlen Screeners across the entire great state of Texas, as well as Mississippi, and Louisiana. She was the driving force behind the Texas Irlen Association, and fought hard to get school children access to Irlen services through school district trainings and proposed state legislation. The Irlen Syndrome Foundation aims to keep Dr. Johnson’s mission and spirit alive through the Pat Johnson Memorial Scholarship, which will give individuals in Texas and the surrounding southern states access to Irlen testing and spectral filters.

In 2015 two Pat Johnson Memorial Scholarships were awarded. Please help us keep Pat’s memory and altruistic mission alive. To make a donation to the Irlen Syndrome Foundation’s Pat Johnson Memorial Scholarship Fund, please click the link below or email donate@irlensyndrome.org to talk to someone directly about your contribution.

Donate Online: https://npo.justgive.org/nonprofits/donate.jsp?ein=33-0409023

The Irlen Syndrome Foundation is a 501(3)(c) charity organization. Donations are tax deductible. We are also able to accept donations from “Donor Advised Funds” and Charitable Remainder Trusts. Our federal tax ID is 33-0409023. Our mailing address is 5380 E. Village Rd., Long Beach, CA 90808.

To learn more about the Irlen Syndrome Foundation, please visit: www.irlensyndrome.org

Giving Smarter: Use Required IRA Distributions and Donor-Advised Funds to Give More

Take advantage of alternative funding sources to make your annual charitable gifts. Today, it’s easier than ever to make gifts from your IRA distributions or donor-advised funds, and in doing so, maximize your tax benefits while at the same time support a cause you care about.

Using IRA Distributions

New legislation offers an exciting tax break for retirees. Here’s how it works:
Retirees age 70 1/2 and older can donate up to $100,000 tax free from their IRA each year. This can be a huge benefit for retirees who are required to take an annual distribution from their IRA because IRA distributions are generally treated as taxable income. Under the new legislation, made permanent in the 2015 federal spending and tax package, those assets are excluded from income if the distribution is made directly to charity. The distribution is not included in your income so you avoid the potential negative consequences that regular IRA withdrawals in retirement can create, including taxes on Social Security benefits. In addition, instead of being limited to a lower percentage, as charitable contribution deductions normally are, distributions that are excluded from income are equivalent to a 100% deduction.

Once you turn 70 1/2, the IRS required you to take a minimum distribution from your IRA each year, regardless of whether or not you actually need that income, and these required withdrawals are subject to ordinary income taxes. By making a charitable contribution from your IRA, you can satisfy your required minimum distribution amount without reporting additional income. Make sure you speak with your tax and or financial adviser before making tax or investment decisions to see if donating IRA distributions is right for you.

Donor-Advised Funds

Many financial institutions offer ways for their clients to participate in charitable giving, and one of these ways is through donor-advised funds. These offer donors the convenience of making a single tax-deductible donation, then distributing those funds to the charities of their choice. It allow donors the ease of contributing things other than cash, such as real estate, appreciated securities and non-publicly traded assets. And, it offers donors the ability to grow their donations tax-free and distribute their funds to charities over time. All of this allows for the potential of a higher charitable impact. Ask your financial institution about their available donor-advised funds for more information, and as always, be sure to speak with your tax and or financial adviser before making tax or investment decisions.

 

 

 

What Does ISAW Mean? I See With My Brain.

Irlen Syndrome Awareness Week, affectionately known as ISAW, begins on October 19, 2015. This worldwide awareness effort hopes to bring global attention to the current lack of proper identification of this easily addressed condition. When successfully identified, Irlen Syndrome is easily addressed and corrected through available interventions; however, only a fraction of individuals who suffer from this condition are properly assessed. Instead, the majority are either misdiagnosed with other conditions, such as ADHD and dyslexia, or simply continue to suffer in silence throughout their lifetime.

ISAW 2015 is a grassroots effort. It requires the involvement by every person affected by Irlen Syndrome, every family, every friend. It asks every educator and every allied health professional to be willing to know the symptoms and to keep an eye out for children and adults who might be at risk. Irlen Syndrome is still in the closet. People have never heard of it, don’t think they know anyone who suffers from it, and aren’t aware there is a way to address it.

The acronym, ISAW, has several very relevant and distinct meanings:

  • It stands for Irlen Syndrome Awareness Week
  • It alludes to the fact that Irlen Syndrome can affect what people see on the printed page and in the environment
  • It encourages people to be aware of the symptoms, to acknowledge the prevalence of the condition in their communities, and to see Irlen Syndrome around them

In a purposeful display of irony, ISAW also tries to bring to light the difference between vision and sight. Most people know that if there is a problem with the eyes, it can affect visual acuity, or how clearly you can see. But what many people forget is that the brain, not just the eyes, have a hand in what we see as well. This is vision. The brain is at the end of the visual pathway, and it is the place where signals from visual stimuli are interpreted. What we ultimately “see” is up to our brain, not our eyes. Our eyes are the initial receptor for visual information, but our brain is the final melting pot for that information. If the brain isn’t functioning correctly, we won’t see things accurately. So, the mantra of the individual with Irlen Syndrome should be “I SAW with my brain, not with my eyes.”

ISAW 2015 will be full of outreach efforts around the world that celebrate this message, and with it they will draw attention to key symptoms of Irlen Syndrome and its prevalence within different populations.  Everyone can make a difference in this awareness effort. All you have to do is know the symptoms and tell a friend.

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World Leaders Speak At the International Irlen Conference

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Every two years, the International Irlen Conference brings together world leaders in the fields of Irlen Syndrome, neuroscience, ophthalmology, education, and psychology. Meet this year’s keynote speakers:

 

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

 

 

Marcia Reis Guimaraes, MD, PhD, is an ophthalmologist and eye pathologist with an educational background in molecular biology and basic sciences. She is an Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, Embryology and Pathology at the Universidade de Sao Paulo and Universidade Pitagoras and invited professor of several universities throughout Brazil. She is Clinical Director of the Hospital de Olhos de Minas Gerais in Brazil. Dr. Guimaraes is also Director of the Irlen Clinic in Belo Horizonte, which is located in the Hospital de Olhos. She serves as Research Clinical Professor at the Federal University of Mina Gerais-LPAN (Laboratory Advance Research in clinically Applied Neurovisual Sciences).

 

 

Ricardo Guimaraes, MD, PhD, is a board certified ophthalmologist and founder and Director of the Hospital de Olhos in Minas Garais Brazil, the largest individual private eye clinics in Brazil. Dr. Guimaraes is also Assistant Professor at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (Brazil) and Director of the International Club of Surgery. He serves as President of the Brazilian Society of Refractive Surgery and maintains professional memberships in the Brazilian Society of Ophthalmology, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and the International Society of Refractive Surgery. He serves on a number of editorial boards, including Highlights of Ophthalmology and Medical Editor for Ocular Surgery News for Latin America, and is currently serving as Honorary Consul of Canada in Minas Gerais, Medical Editor of Ocular Surgery New for Latin America, member of the board of the council of Health School – Universidade Pitagoras, Brazilian Institute of Marketing Economy (IBMEC), and Fundação da Associação Comercial de Minas Gerais and American Chamber of Commerce.

 

 

Jeffrey David Lewine, PhD, is Professor of Translational Neuroscience and Director of Business Development at the Mind Research Network, affiliated with the University of New Mexico. Dr. Lewine’s research uses behavioral and brain imaging methods including magnetoencephalography [MEG], electroencephalography [EEG], magnetic resonance imaging [MRI], and single photon emission computed tomography [SPECT]) to study brain structure and function. He has performed research on a wide range of clinical conditions including autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, dyslexia, epilepsy, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. These investigations have been funded, in part, by Cure Autism Now, Johnson & Johnson, Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, McDonnell-Pew Program in Cognitive Neuroscience, National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Affective Disorders, Orasi Medical, the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Lewine has previously directed functional brain imaging programs in New Mexico, Utah, Kansas and Illinois. He is a member of the College of Scientific Reviewers for the National Institutes of Health and a member of the executive boards for the American Clinical Magnetoencephalography Society and the International Society for the Advancement of Clinical MEG. Dr. Lewine is the co-author of a textbook on functional brain imaging and he has co-authored more than 100 articles and book chapters.

 

 

Helen L. Irlen, MA, BCPC, LMFT, is a pioneer and global leader in the area of visual processing problems and an internationally recognized educator, researcher, and scholar. She is the founder and Executive Director of the Irlen Institute, which has over 138 affiliated Irlen Centers worldwide. Her method for treating visual processing deficits is used in over 45 countries. She is the author of Reading by the Colors and The Irlen Revolution: A Guide to Changing Your Perception and Your Life. Her newest book is Sports Concussions and Getting Back in the Game…of Life.

 

For more information about the Irlen International Conference, visit the conference website: IIC 2015

New Year. New Name. Renewed Mission

The start of 2015 meant big things for the Irlen Syndrome Foundation. We opened the year with both a new name (we are also known as the Learning Research Association) and a new website. This new website is part of our renewed and expanded mission statement. While the organization has a long history of providing financial assistance to individuals in need of Irlen services, until now, it has not been an active educational body, providing the community with necessary information and resources to better understand and address individuals with Irlen Syndrome. We are proud of this mission, and we hope you’ll enjoy embarking on this adventure with us to raise awareness of Irlen Syndrome, so that no individual may go unidentified, unfairly treated, or unaccepted.

The Irlen Syndrome Foundation is supported by a talented group of individuals who are highly motivated to change the world’s perception of Irlen Syndrome and people who face this challenge. We seek to support parents in their quests to advocate for their children, to educate the public and professionals about the Syndrome and what they can do to make a difference, and to drive change – a change in policies, practices, and perceptions, so that individuals with Irlen Syndrome can have access to available and successful solutions.

On our new website, you’ll find a variety of resources, including downloadable toolkits designed for parents and educators, access to self-tests and research, and links to useful sources of information and support. We invite you to explore our new site and let us know what you think. We hope you help us make a difference in the lives of children and adults with Irlen Syndrome.