Trouble with school for little Andrew Graves has been a constant in his life since he first started.
The seven year old has difficulty reading, writing and maneuvering items like circular tables.
Parents Dawne and Tim Graves have taken him to the doctor, pediatrician and to the eye doctor, time and time again. No one seems to think that Andrew has anything wrong with him.
“He takes longer than other students to do his school work and he does most of it from memory,” said Dawne.
“Mom, when I try to read, the words move around,” is one of the common complaints Andrew would issue to his mother.
Frustrated and determined to help her son, Dawne began to research Andrew’s difficulties.
She began to google every symptom that her son had.
Irlen Syndrome, (www.irlen.ca) a condition formerly known as Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome (SSS) kept coming up on the computer screen. This syndrome is described as a “problem with the brain’s ability to process visual information.”
It can cause problems with academic performance, behaviour, attention, the ability to sit still and be able to concentrate.
Symptoms of the syndrome include: sensitivity to fluorescent lighting, reading and writing difficulty, poor depth-perception, slow or inefficient reading, poor comprehension, eye strain and more.
Finding this information lead Andrews parents to Pat Everette, who provided the screening for Andrew and then on to diagnostics in Kelowna with Bonnie Williams.
In the mean time, wanting to learn as much as she could, Dawne joined a group on Facebook for Irlen Syndrome sufferers and has been posting and learning as much as she can.
In comes the head of “Andrews Angels.” Kim Nolin happened to see a comment from Dawne in regards to Andrews condition and the fact that he would need specialized glasses to help him. The cost was something that the family was not exactly prepared for.
Nolin then took it upon herself to speak to her friends in the Smart Start program at her child’s school. With out the Graves family knowing, a fundraiser began amongst parents involved in the program and some other individuals in the community.
“The majority of the people wish to remain anonymous,” said Nolin. “There were about 10 of us and we just wanted to help.”
The group of fundraisers has raised enough funds to pay for the costs of screening, diagnostics and for the glasses as well as for the review Andrew will need to complete in 6 months time.
During a very short five weeks, as of this past Friday, Andrew was screened, diagnosed and has received his specialized glasses. This is unusual, as most of the time, this process takes at least six months.
The day before Andrew was to go for diagnostics, a card was presented to Dawne at the Smart Start program.
A group of ladies watched while Kim Nolin handed Dawne a card, saying “We hope this helps.”
“Dawne opened the card and immediately burst into tears,” said Nolin. “We told her it was for Andrew’s glasses.”
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, (money in the envelope) said Dawne, I couldn’t stop crying!”
The family has also received assistance from The Port Coquitlam Lions Club and the Princeton Lions Club.
The generosity was almost overwhelming for Dawne, but she and her family are truly grateful. “These people are Andrews Angels,” said Dawne, “We can’t begin to thank them enough,” as she wipes tears from her eyes.
“Every time I see Kim, I start to cry,” she said with a giggle.
It turns out that Dawne has the syndrome as well and will be taking the steps to get her glasses soon too. She is also arranging to get training to become an Irlen Syndrome screener so she can possibly set up a screening program for children entering school.
For more information on Irlen Syndrome please visit www.irlen.ca