I’m please to announce a major expansion of Myomancy.
On the Myomancy Treatment Database you will find a list of ninety different treatments available for ADHD, dyslexia and autism. These range from mainstream reading programs to fringe treatments such as NeuroCranial Restructuring. Visitors to the Treatment Database can comment on treatments they have tried so that other parents can find the right treatment for their child.
Everything is brand new so if you find anything that doesn’t work or any typos then please let me know by commenting here or emailing me.
And please tell your friends about it. If you have your own blog or are on any email lists or forums, please mention the treatment database. It can only help dyslexics and sufferers of ADHD if people know about it.
Can dyslexia be babies in children as young as two months old? This is the suggestion of a new study published in NeuroReport . Babies with a genetic risk of genetic (presumably parents or siblings had dyslexia) plus a control group where tested to see how they responded to two phonetic sounds.
“[The absense of a response] in the infants at risk supports the hypothesis of basic auditory (temporal) processing impairments in the disorder. The results suggest that these early signs of deficient auditory processing may point to problematic categorical perception at a later age“.
Mismatch response is absent in 2-month-old infants at risk for dyslexia.
Previously on Myomancy: Audiotory index.
Science Blog has a great post on how the signals from our ears are transmitted to our brains.
“The research provides a new mathematical framework for understanding sound processing and suggests that our hearing is highly optimized in terms of signal coding—the process by which sounds are translated into information by our brains—for the range of sounds we experience. The same work also has far-reaching, long-term technological implications, such as providing a predictive model to vastly improve signal processing for better-quality compressed digital audio files and designing brain-like codes for cochlear implants, which restore hearing to the deaf“.
Scientists Show How Brain Processes Sound
Sensory Integration is often used with autistic children or childern with severe learning problems but its is not a specific technique. Its an approach that tries to normalise a child’s reactions to sensory input. The School Psychology blog has identified a publication by the National Association of School Psychologists on Sensory Integration in 2002. They weren’t impressed.
“There is no study that uses a quality research design (e.g., random assignment of subjects, matched control groups, consideration of the effects of maturation, evaluators blind to treatment condition) that finds SI therapy to be effective in reducing any problem behaviors or increasing any desired behaviors. There is plenty of evidence from which a verdict can be drawn. And the verdict is that, despite the intuitive appeal and glowing testimonials, SI therapy is not an effective treatment ….
Despite this harsh criticism, SI theorists and practitioners may be close to something important. I strongly encourage continued research in this area. However, the general public should not be Guinea pigs. Nor should resources be taken from effective treatments to go towards an unproved treatment. I hope that when new and improved SI models are proven safe and effective, they will dramatically improve the lives of children and their families. When there is evidence of SI as a safe and effective treatment, I promise to publicize such positive findings as vigorously as I have pointed out its current shortcomings.“.
A School Psychologist Investigates Sensory Integration Therapies: Promise, Possibility, and the Art of Placebo
Previously on Myomancy: The Senses of Autism, Sense Round-Up, Integrated Senses, Sensory Integration and ADHD, Sensory Integration, Sensory Integration Research
Kevin McGrew on Intelligence Testing has posted a link to an interesting paper: Development of Phonological
Awareness. Its quite a technical paper but contains some interesting information on the different aspects of phonological awareness and how these develop at different times depending on the language spoken.
“Distinctions among phonological awareness skills based on unit of word structure include whether syllables are the focus of the task or whether smaller intrasyllabic units, like onsets, rimes, or phonemes, are the focus. The onset is the initial consonant or consonant cluster present in many, but not all, English syllables; the rime is the remaining vowel and consonants. (For example, in the word spin, sp is the onset; in is the rime; and /s/, /p/, /I/, and /n/ are the phonemes.) Debate over which phonological skills belong to the construct of interest has directly influenced literacy curriculum and instruction, with some curricula emphasizing phoneme awareness and reading by sound–letter correspondences and other curricula emphasizing onset–rime awareness and reading by rime analogies (e.g., reading a new word, like string, by analogizing from familiar words that have the same rime unit, like sing and wing).
… Phonological awareness typically develops quickly once literacy instruction begins. This is especially true for children learning to read an alphabetic language that has transparent orthography—consistent spelling-to-sound relations and consistent sound-to-spelling relations. For example, German children in their first year of schooling develop phoneme awareness more quickly than do English children in their first year of schooling, in accord with the more transparent orthography of German. Furthermore, phonological awareness deficits of dyslexic children disappear if these individuals read a transparent orthography like Dutch (DeJong & VanDerLeij, 2003), but phonological awareness deficits of dyslexic children persist into adulthood if these individuals read an inconsistent orthography like English“.
The Neurology department at Wake Forest University have been researching how the ability or lack of ability to integrate multiple senses together can play a part in dyslexia. In Altered temporal profile of visual-auditory multisensory interactions in dyslexia :
“[W]e studied the effects of task-irrelevant auditory information on the performance of a visual temporal-order-judgment (TOJ) task. Dyslexic subjects’ performance differed significantly from that of control subjects, specifically in that they integrated the auditory and visual information over longer temporal intervals. Such a result suggests an extended temporal “window” for binding visual and auditory cues in dyslexic individuals“.
On the Wake Forest website is another article Early Experience May Shape our Sensory Perceptions, New Research Shows looking at the neurology of cats to understand how humans combine different sensory information.
“The researchers studied individual neurons in the neocortex of cats to see how they respond to sight, sound and touch. Surprisingly, they found that many of the neurons could respond to stimuli in several of these senses.
‘The neurons responses to combinations of sensory stimuli were often much greater than we predicted,’ said Wallace. ‘This suggests that these neurons have the capacity to greatly amplify their signals when confronted with stimuli from multiple senses.’
He said this finding may explain how multisensory stimuli can lead to improvements in our perceptions – such as how seeing a friend speaking across a crowded and noisy room can help us better ‘hear’ what he or she is saying.
In addition to studying these neurons in adult cats, the researchers also examined how multisensory neurons mature in the developing brain. They found that immediately after birth, multisensory neurons were not present in the neocortex. Only after several months of development did these neurons first appear, and they were strikingly immature, lacking the ability to amplify their signals. Several weeks later, these neurons began to acquire this multisensory capability“.
Sensory integration training is often used in treating autism and learning difficulties like dyslexia or ADHD and this research gives some theoretical basis to that approach. However I can’t find any published work on this research so treat the information with a pinch of salt.
A study on a phonics based approach to teaching dyslexic adults has found that after 100+ hours of training the dyslexic brain can change. Whilst other studies have looked at phonics and the effect on the brain this is the first one to show that adult brains can also adapt.
The work was done by Lynn Flowers, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Neurology at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and her colleagues.
“Our findings demonstrate that behavioral changes in tutored dyslexic adults are associated with (1) increased activity in those left-hemisphere regions engaged by normal readers and (2) compensatory activity in the right perisylvian cortex“.
Full Paper: Neural changes following remediation in adult developmental dyslexia [ PDF ]
NeuroNet is a treatment centre based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA run by Nancy Rowe. There are few details on the website of what the treatment entails but its clear its a combination of auditory, balance and sensory integration training.
“In the NeuroNet evaluation we look at auditory and vestibular behaviors, and how these behaviors affect a child’s ability to learn basic skills. All behaviors are assessed in a low-level multi-tasking context. The five areas addressed by the NeuroNet evaluation include:
1. vestibular control of body centering (attention);
2. vestibular control of body differentiation (speech and handwriting);
3. visual/verbal integration (communication and language);
4. auditory processing (reading decoding and reading comprehension); and
5. visual processing (spatial relationships and mathematical reasoning).“
I’m against the use of Ritalin and other drugs as a long-term treatment of ADHD but they do have short-term uses. They can give a child time to find their feet whilst they undergo treatment that deals with the causes of the problem. As this study demonstrates, Effects of methylphenidate on the auditory processing abilities of children with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, methylphenidate can make the children more aware of their surrondings. In this case, their ability to pay attention to what is being said.
“Stimulant medications are widely used as part of the treatment for children with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The current study investigated the effects of methylphenidate on auditory vigilance, auditory processing abilities, and receptive language abilities of children with ADHD. Twenty subjects (17 males and 3 females) ranged in age from 7 to 13 years. Each subject had been diagnosed as having ADHD and had been prescribed methylphenidate for the control of hyperactivity. The test battery included the Auditory Continuous Performance Test (ACPT), SCAN (a screening test for auditory processing disorders in children), and the Token Test for Children. Results indicated that there was significant improvement in the children’s performance on all measures when on methylphenidate. Implications of these findings are discussed“.
On Ababasoft they host a selection of music and rhythm games. Music and rhythm have an important role to play in the brain and in the treatment of learning difficulties. Games like these may be a good way of getting you child into music.