Reading Rainbow: The reading challenged have met their color match

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - It's a learning difference that can make it hard to read and spell.  Depending on how severe, dyslexia can make things, like school, seem impossible.  One mom in Baton Rouge was told her son's case was so severe, he'd never graduate.  But some new glasses are giving some who suffer from dyslexia a much better outlook.

Peeking into any classroom at The Brighton School, you would say it's like any other school.  Teacher and students are reviewing for finals.

"Who wants to give me the equation?" says one math teacher.

You'd never know unless you asked that the school is a K-12 facility dedicated solely to teaching children with dyslexia and dyslexia-related differences.

Lynn Kober has a son, Stephen, who is a senior at the school.  Stephen was diagnosed years ago with severe dyslexia.

"In first grade we discovered he wasn't keeping up with the other children in his class," she said.  "He has a twin sister, which made it even more noticeable to us.  He could not keep up with that she was doing and what his peers were able to do."

When most people read, you see the words clearly on the page.  But Stephen says that's not what he saw.

"Words moving around, lines separating from different angles; it's just really weird. I can't explain in any better than that," Stephen said.

Lynn said reading what she thought was a simple word was also difficult.

"T-H-E how difficult is that?  But every time we'd get to the word 'the', I'd ask him to read it.  He couldn't read it."

In some cases, someone with dyslexia sees the words moving on the page from left to right, they see words that go in and out of focus, they see blurry words, words can appear to float on the page and sometimes they also see double lines.

Stephen says being called on in class was something he dreaded.  His mom tried to work with him, but she says that became frustrating for both of them.

"I would read to him.  Sit there with my finder on each word, point to each word trying to get him to understand because I didn't understand how he was seeing words," Lynn said.  Stephen says it was very difficult.  "I would get very frustrated.  He would get very frustrated and we'd stop."

Eventually she skipped reading and went to books on tape.  That's how they got through the Harry Potter series.

For almost 19 years, the Kober's have lived with Stephen's inability to read and comprehend.  Lynn says a therapist once told her Stephen would never make it through 12th grade.  That all changed one day at school last November, when an eye care center tested out new glasses on some students.

"We're the only ones right now in the region that's using these lenses," said Dr. Cory Boudreaux.

Dr. Boudreaux says his office came across a company called Chromagen.  Chromagen developed colored lenses that were meant to help people with colorblindness.

"People with colorblindness called back and said I'm also reading a whole lot better...stumbled upon dyslexia by accident."

Video of Stephen in his prescription glasses shows him holding a paper close to his face and reading slowly.  Dr. Boudreaux says that is part of the reading test they do before putting patients in the colored Chromagen lenses.  They then test them again with those colored lenses.  Dr. Boudreaux says in some cases kids have actually doubled their reading rate.

He says the company believes in dyslexic patients that their eyes send signals to the brain at different rates.  So for the Chromagen lenses to work, two different colored lenses are used to get the signal to the brain at the same time.

The video of Stephen with the Chromagen lenses, the doctor says his reading has improved 113 percent.

"I think it works," said Stephen's mom.  "I'm a skeptic and I need to see it actually work."

Dr. Boudreaux cautions they do not see those results from everyone.  For some, the lenses do not help at all.  But for Stephen's mom, she says she now sees her son reading sentences rather than stopping after every word.  She believes this testing could be a lifesaver.

"I wish they could go into every school, especially at the younger grades.  If this child had had these when he was seven or eight years old it would have made a tremendous difference in his learning ability to perform in school."

The Chromagen lenses can cost upward of $700.  Lynn Kober says the good thing is even if her sons prescription glasses change, he will not have to be refitted for the Chromagen lenses.  Those will always stay the same.

By the way, despite what therapists told them - Stephen is graduation from high school this Thursday night.

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