5 Best Reasons Colored Overlays Help Overcome Dyslexia Symptoms

by Pat Wyman on November 20, 2013

Reading is a very complicated skill and because reading specialists know the hundreds of skills it involves and the process can be very taxing and some children use colored overlays to help clear up the print and reduce visual stress.

According to research by Professor Arnold Wilkins and his associates, they claim that colored overlays “reduce the symptoms of visual stress and increase reading fluency in about 20% of school children. In 5% of children the increase in speed with overlays is greater than 25%.”

On their site at lucid-research.com/overlays.htm they maintain that colored overlays “testing kits for determining which color of overlay would be most suitable for the child are available. These comprise several sheets of acetate of different colors, which are placed over a page of text”

They continue, “In a straightforward testing procedure, pairs of colors are compared successively, the child being asked to judge which color makes the text easiest to read. The Wilkins Rate of Reading Test can then be used to measure the amount of improvement in reading efficiency brought about by using the chosen color.”

Reading involves so many skills including perception, symbol recognition, sounds that symbols represent, decoding of words, cognitive skills, eye tracking, focusing and teaming, along with hundreds of other aspects.

Therefore, reading is more complex than people often make it seem. When a child struggles with dyslexia, reading becomes far more complicated because the letters on the page literally appear to move around, change order and may even appear wave-like to some.

Years ago, Ron Davis, who wrote a book called The Gift of Dyslexia used to come into my classrooms where I was a reading specialist, and lecture to teachers on how to help children overcome their dyslexia and be able to read. He told the teachers to help children get a visual image of the word in their mind, especially with words like “the” ; “was”;  “saw”, etc.

In addition, in these classrooms we used colored overlays to help relieve visual stress when students looked at black print on a white page and they worked very well.

Before Using Colored Overlays Start by Asking These Questions:

  • When you read, do you get tired quickly?
  • Do you easily forget what you read?
  • Do you skip lines sometimes?
  • Do you sometimes feel even sick to your stomach when you read?
  • Do the letters ever appear to move around?
  • Do the students around you seem to read much faster?

One of the experts on the HowToLearn.com website, Dr. Stephen Guffanti, went all the way through medical school rarely reading his texts, and not knowing he had dyslexia. One day, he was reading the paper with his wife and he asked her, “what do you do when the words move around because you are reading so much faster than I read?”

He realized that colored overlays could help steady the words on the page and recommended them to some of his patients when he was asked about them. He also knew that sometimes kids who were diagnosed with dyslexia, did not really have it, because it was more of a visual perceptual problem that could be alleviated with vision therapy and the help of colored overlays.

I know that I myself use colored overlays taped over my computer screen because I am writing books all the time, and my eyes can get very tired. Colored overlays definitely reduce the visual strain for me.

So, as a reading specialist, I highly recommend trying colored overlays with students who have dyslexia. Just get several colors of overlays and ask the child how they feel and what the words look like when you place various colors and fully cover the printed page.

Colored Overlays and their Benefits:

Colored Overlays

There are several benefits to using colored overlays. They certainly make many people more comfortable and they can read for longer periods of time.

Colored overlays relax your eyes, and even your neck and shoulders as you read.

They can make the print clear up and reduce visual perceptual problems.

  • Colored overlays certainly help improve comprehension because you can actually see what you are reading much more easily.

Pairing Colored Overlays with Learning Styles Study Skills System

When I pair colored overlays with the book Instant Learning for Amazing Grades which has  proven learning styles study skills system chock full of strategies for all subject areas, I find that students improve their grades even more than just by using the colored overlays alone.

Using colored overlays and a book with a 14 day plan to raise your grades is a very effective combination!

Obviously, I use the  colored overlays from HowToLearn.com because of the high quality and because they are thick and sturdy. I’ve also used them since the mid 1970’s when I taught in Los Angeles as a reading specialist. These overlays are nice too because you can cut them to fit over the entire page of smaller books if you want to, as well as use them on your computer screen like I do.

Pat Wyman      Pat Wyman is a college professor, reading specialist and the best-selling author of the following books: Amazing Grades:101 Best Ways to Improve Your Grades Faster; Spelling Made Easy: Learn Your Words in Half the Time; Math Facts Made Easy: Learn All Your Facts in Half the Time; and Instant Learning for Amazing Grades, plus several more.

She is known as America’s Most Trusted Learning Expert who has quick learning solutions for students with learning and reading challenges, and is an expert using colored overlays.

Purchase colored overlays

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