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Tips to Improve Reading Using Colored Overlays

Tips to Improve Reading Using Colored Overlays

Colored Overlays Can Help Improve Reading

Colored overlays have been used to help students improve their reading in schools and at home with the proper studies and usage. Autism and ADHD are a few of the symptoms that can be enhanced with colored overlays implemented in children’s reading. By using these, you can make your child’s activities much more enjoyable!

A proper diagnosis by a developmental optometrist is the first step to determine the underlying cause of the reading challenges. Other symptoms that the usage of colored overlays may improve are visual-perceptual disorders (trouble seeing letters clearly on white paper), which produce text distortion, moving or shaking text, poor depth perception, eye strain, severe headaches, and sensitivity to particular types of light, making reading difficult. Other readers with dyslexia or any reading disorder may see some improvement when using the overlays.

Listed below are three of the best tips to use colored overlays to improve reading and comprehension. By using these tips, you may pass on the joy of reading to even the most hesitant student.

 1.     Check for overall vision problems first.

Many problems plaguing readers might be solved with a developmental vision screening and exam.

This will rule out problems such as vision accommodation, binocular vision, and problems with ocular motor function. These problems will only continue plaguing the reader while using the overlays, increasing frustration and decreasing the overlays’ efficacy. If there is no sign of problems from these exams, or if difficulties persist with corrections, proceed to finding the right color of overlay for your reader.

2.   Find the right color.

Colored overlays will reduce the contrast between the white page and black ink, reducing the strain on the reader’s eyes. While there are “official” tests you can perform to assign the correct color, basic trial and error will work well enough simply by asking your child which color “feels the best.”

With the right color, words should stop shaking and the lines will no longer look wavy to the student. However, because the syndrome also includes symptoms of light sensitivity, different types of lighting (fluorescent, natural, etc.) could affect the correct color choice.

3.  Continue with proper, individualized reading instruction.

The color overlays themselves do not create good readers—they create conditions that clear up the print on a page and reduce visual stress so that students can read the words on the page, allowing them to develop good reading habits and skills.

The overlays can help students focus more on groups of words and the connections between them, instead of focusing on trying to make out individual letters and words. Using overlays will potentially allow teachers to work on comprehension and more advanced reading skills with students.

The most important point, though, is to not let the overlays do the teaching—the use of overlays must be followed up with individualized, remedial teaching to help the reader regain confidence and an appropriate skill level. Otherwise, only an immediate, increased effect will be realized, followed by a plateau.

For more information or therapy using colored overlays, contact WeeCare Occupational Therapy.

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