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Boy, 10, who struggled to read as 'letters moved' diagnosed with rare condition

A 10-year-old boy who struggled to read from a young age has been diagnosed with a very rare condition.

James, from Doncaster in south Yorkshire, told his mum he was finding reading difficult because 'the letters are moving everywhere'.

He was recently diagnosed as having Irlen Syndrome, which causes difficulties with fine vision tasks such as reading and can also cause co-ordination problems.

James was diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum when he was just three-and-a-half years old, his mum Kirsty said.

"Myself and my husband noticed there was something niggly at two years old, but we weren't sure if it was because we were looking into it too much or if it was genuinely something", Kirsty told YorkshireLive .

But one of the nurses at James' two-year health check agreed that there could be something worth investigating and he was officially diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum 18 months later.

Around the same time as he was given that diagnosis, James's parents were told that it was likely he had a form of ADHD - attention deficit hyperactivity disorder - but it was not until James was seven that he was formally diagnosed with autism.

Mum-of-two Kirsty said: "I think it was more of a relief to know that we weren't going insane and then we could at least make the strategies that we knew would work.

"And it gives us the ability to have the answers if he does ask, he's not so far but if he does ask us 'why am I thinking differently?' we can tell him."

James was also more recently diagnosed as having Irlen Syndrome.


© James

Kirsty explained: "He always struggled to read from a young age and we couldn't grasp why. It wasn't until one day I said to him 'you're struggling to read, I don't understand why' and he said 'but the letters are moving everywhere' and I was like 'WHAT?!'

"We just took him for an eye test and went with it, whenever something has cropped up we have just thought 'right lets see what's going on here then'."

Luckily, James's optician was able to kit him out with some special tinted glasses which help him to focus on the letters when he is reading - a similar fix to using coloured paper for dyslexia.

"It's very much along the dyslexia lines, but I didn't have a clue about it when I took him for the test", Kirsty said.

For James, socialising with his peers is what he struggles with the most and there are times where it can be difficult for him to relate to his friends.

James does not enjoy taking part in Christmas plays or concerts, unlike his school friends who relish the excitement of these festive celebrations.

But there has been one thing that helped James to conquer this - his trusty drum kit.

Kirsty said: "He's not a stage person, so Christmas concerts and stuff like that he doesn't enjoy but, with this, he will actually get up and sit and play his drums."

This remarkable turnaround is thanks to the local arm of a national music school, which has allowed James to get involved in his very own "School of Rock" and enjoy playing in a band with other children his age.

Rocksteady, the country's largest independent music school for children aged 4 -11, went to James's school to do some taster music lessons.

He had the opportunity to sign up for more lessons if he liked them and the rest is history.

"After that he just enjoyed it and he carried on going and he's been going for years", Kirsty said, adding that it has made a world of difference not just to James's social skills but his confidence, too.

She continued: "I think it's that thing where he can just be in the moment of the drums. Rocksteady is like a bit of a band and it's almost like he's in a band with people that he usually wouldn't be in a band with, so he's talking to people he wouldn't usually talk to."

Kirsty and her husband have never allowed James's diagnoses to stop him from having the same opportunities as other children and have always encouraged him to do 'everyday' tasks, despite these being a challenge at times.

Kirsty said: "I don't think he particularly understands it yet and I think as he gets older he will, but he never refers to himself as being different. We've always pushed to make him do things that everyone else does and things other kids would be doing."

Reference: Mirror: Phoebe Fuller & Danya Bazaraa

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