ADD / ADHD, ADD / ADHD Diagnosis, ADD / ADHD Medication, ADD / ADHD Treatment, Digital Fitness, Dore Achievement Centres, Dyslexia, Dyslexia Testing & Diagnosis, Dyslexia Treatment, Dyspraxia, Medication, Memory, Music, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, Rhythm Games, Wii Fit

One of the reasons I started this blog was because I was interested in creating a cerebellum training program that was quicker, more effective than Dore. Myomancy was my notebook of interesting technology and relevant science. Over the years I’ve examined many different approaches to the treatment of dyslexia and ADHD. Some were simply nonsense, others had promise but were lacking the scientific, technological or business resources to make them viable. Some lacked the ethical honesty necessary when selling products to parents desperately worried about their children.

Slowly overtime I refined my ideas about how cerebellum training should work and how a independent company without much in the way financial resources could develop and sell such a product in an ethical manner. One main stumbling block has been the cost and availability of the technology necessary to track a user’s limb movements and balance. So I’ve been watching the progress of the Wii and latterly the Wii Fit with interest. The technology needed for cerebellum training was finally cheaply and readily available. What’s more many people already own it.

Originally I intended to make an announcement after slowly develop a proof of concept over the next few months but with the collapse of Dore and the shadow that will cast over the cerebellum training field, I’ve decided to move my plans forward. So I’m pleased to announced the creation of WyyMi, a project to create a free, open-source, open-science cerebellum training program.

What is WyyMi?
WyyMi is a project to develop a cerebellum training program to help people with dyslexia, ADHD, dyspraxia and similar educational problems.

Project Goals
To develop a system that cost nothing (or as close to nothing as possible) to use; to do it using open-source software; and to make freely available as much scientific evidence on its effectiveness as possible.

How Will It Work?
The idea is to use cheap and easily available computer hardware that can monitor and assess gross motor movements and balance. At the moment the Wii Remote and Wii Fit Balance Board seem the best candidates but they need to be adapted to work on PCs and Macs because the Wii console itself is difficult to develop for.

Using this hardware and software on the website, users will be perform a series of exercises. The amount of time spent training and the accuracy of the user’s movement will be logged on the server so that the user can track their progress and so the server can inform the user which exercises to do next. This data will also be aggregated, made anonymous and published so that it can be analyzed by any interested 3rd party. Ideally, symptom specific measures (e.g. spelling tests) will also be included so that the training programs effectiveness in treating educational problems can be measured.

Other than a broad statement of goals and the planned route for achieving them, there is nothing else on site at the moment. Progress is likely to slow, not least because I am working on another project at the moment as well maintaining my existing portfolio of web sites. If you wish to help in anyway, please see the announcement for ways you can contribute, not matter what your skills are.

Myomancy will be continuing to report on anything and everything I think is relevant to dyslexia, ADHD and autism. Obviously as I am planning to create my own training program, that might create a conflict of interest when discussing other people’s approach. I will try and be as unbiased as possible and make my conflict of interest clear.

ADD / ADHD, ADD / ADHD Treatment, Dyslexia, Dyslexia Treatment, Dyspraxia, Food and Drink, Memory

VegEPA is a Omega-3 fish oil supplement that has received a lot of media attention this week. Its been everywhere from the Times of London who said “Overweight children who took fatty acid dietary supplements showed dramatic improvements in concentration, reading, memory and mental agility. ” to the Indian Catholic who wrote “at the end of the three-month study found the children showed an increase in reading age of well over a year, their handwriting became neater and more accurate and they paid more attention in class“. None of this coverage of VegEPA has been at all critical apart from Ben Goldacre in the Guardian’s Bad Science column.

Then you might look at the outcomes measured. Behavioural outcomes, in a study of four children, with no control, and lots of extra attention for the subjects – including TV cameras pointing at them – are meaningless. “One boy who previously scorned books and was hooked on TV developed a love of reading and declared he was ‘bored’ with television” said the Daily Mail. I bet he did.

What is VegEPA and does it deserve the uncritical acclaim it has received?

According to the maker’s website each capsule contains 280mg of EPA, 100mg evening primrose oil and 1mg of vitamin E. They recommend children under the age of ten should take one capsule daily but older children and adults should take between four and eight VegEPA tablets. No further information is offered on how to decide how many tablets to take. The US National Institutes of Health recommends a daily intake of 650mg of EPA where as the World Health Organization and governmental health agencies of several countries recommend consuming 300mg – 500mg of EPA + DHA daily. So the VegEPA range for four to eight tables (1120mg – 2240mg) constitutes a high dosage of EPA.

The EPA, or Eicosapentaenoic Acid to give it is full name, in VegEPA is an omega 3 fatty acid. It is metabolized to produce hormone-like agents that play a part in cell division and growth, blood clotting, muscle activity, secretion of digestive juices and hormones, and movement of substances like calcium into and out of cells. However its role in the body is extremely complex so its very hard to clearly identify whether higher-dosages of EPA are beneficial.

One of the key selling points of VegEPA over rivals such EyeQ used in the Durham trials is that VegEPA contains no Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) despite DHA being an omega-6 fish oil that has been linked to similar health benefits as EPA. The problem with DHA is that it competes with EPA for bodily resources so too much DHA may impact on the body’s ability to process EPA. As the western diet already contains as much as 10 time more omega-6 than omega-3 there is no need to take supplemental EPA.

The big question is does VegEPA help dyslexics with reading, concentration and memory? Well Igennus Ltd, the makers, have references to lot of scientific papers on their web site but not one of them is about their product. Not a single peer-reviewed study uses the off-the-shelf product in a properly controlled trial that shows any benefit in reading, concentration or memory for dyslexics of those suffering from ADHD.

A better question is might VegEPA work? Maybe. The National Institute of Health say:

The quantity and strength of evidence for the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on cognitive function and decline, dementia, and neurological diseases vary greatly. Given the overall small number of studies and generally poor quality of clinical trials, substantive conclusions about the value of these compounds for these conditions cannot be drawn.

VegEPA may work but you may as well just take normal omega-3 tablets. The simple answer is that we know that omega-3 is an important part of our diet but we don’t know how all the different bodily processes interact with it. There is no evidence that supplements of 200mg of EPA is better or worse that 2000mg for dyslexia and ADHD. It is £11.95 for 60 capsules (about 15 days worth) compared to £7.95 for 100 standard Omega-3 capules (about a month’s supply) . So going for VegEPA will cost you four times as much for something that is not clearly four times as good.

See: ALA to DHA: The Fish Oil Alphabet, ADHD and Omega Fish Oils, The Omega-3 Diet
References: NIH Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Health

ADD / ADHD, ADD / ADHD Diagnosis, ADD / ADHD Medication, ADD / ADHD Treatment, Auditory, Autism, Autism and Mercury, Autism Tests & Diagnosis, Autism Treatment, Balance & Coordination, Books, Commercial Dyslexia Centres & Treatments, Dore Achievement Centres, Dyscalculia, Dyslexia, Dyslexia Testing & Diagnosis, Dyslexia Treatment, Dyspraxia, Food and Drink, Franchised Dyslexia Treatments, Games, History, Medication, Memory, Music, Science, Sports, Television, Visual, Web/Tech

Over the last few weeks this website has been attracting comments from various members and ex-members of staff of the Dore Achievement Centres. This has come to the attention of the CEO of UK branch, Bob Clarke, who has posted comments on Myomancy and also to Wynford Dore himself who has phoned me. Conversations with Wynford are always enjoyable but challenging because Wynford believes so passionately about what he does. So when Myomancy runs a negative story about the Dore Program he tends to forget all the places on Myomancy where I’ve said the Dore Program works and that it changes lives.

In light of all this I thought it wise to make a clear statement to all my readers about why I devote a considerable amount of time and money to running Myomancy.

  • The goal of Myomancy is to provide independent information on treatments for dyslexia, ADHD and autism so that parents and sufferers can make an informed choice about what is the best approach for them.
  • Myomancy is a blog, a personal web site. It represents my views and my views alone on all things connected with ADHD, dyslexia and Autism.
  • These views are researched and expressed on Myomancy to the best of my abilities but I am not a scientist, teacher or a professional writer. I am just someone who’s life was changed by the Dore Program and felt a need to express myself.
  • I believe in free speech which is why I allow anyone to post comments on the articles regardless of whether they are for or against my views. Only post that are illegal or purely offensive are removed.
  • Myomancy generates a small amount of income for advertising. I would like it to be more so that I can afford to spend more time on Myomancy. It is up to the reader to decide what, if any, impact that has on the independence of Myomancy.

With reference to the above I have removed one comment from the website that is highly critical of the Dore Program and, based on additional evidence I have at my disposal, is completely false.

Balance & Coordination, Dyslexia, Dyslexia Treatment, Memory, Music

Talking about curing dyslexia can get a lot of people upset. Most professionals and most sufferers think dyslexia is incurable but is this right?

As always with dyslexia the starting point is what we mean when we say someone is dyslexic. If you define dyslexia as just a problem with reading then when a dyslexic learns to read they must be ‘cured’ because they no long fit the description of dyslexia. The reality is that dyslexia is a syndrome, a collection of symptoms where the sufferer needs to have several, but not necessarily all symptoms, to be diagnosed. These symptoms include reading, spelling and writing problems plus poor short-term memory, poor phonological abilities and poor motor skills (clumsiness). This definition of dyslexia as a syndrome makes discussion of a cure even harder. How many symptoms of dyslexia have to disappear or be reduced before the person is cured?

As there is no clear definition of dyslexia or what counts as a cure I’ve come with my own.

Dyslexia is cured when a person who has previously been diagnosed as dyslexic can perform a routine tasks such as school work, playing sports or social activities in the same length of time, with the same level of effort and with the same level of success as an average person.

Now we have a definition, is a cure possible?

Yes

Various studies using fMRI and other brain scanning techniques have shown that when a dyslexic reads, they use their brain differently from non-dyslexics. These same studies also found that when treated over a number of month with a phonic based reading program, the dyslexic’s brain changes to be more like a non-dyslexics.

If the brain can change when dealing with reading then the brain can change in relationship with the other symptoms of dyslexia. By combining multiple different types of training to tackle the multiple different symptoms then dyslexia can be cured.

Tackling each symptom one at a time is a long and slow process but by treating them in a sensible order so that the conquering of one problem makes it easier to deal with the next, some time and effort can be saved. Reading, writing and spelling are learnt by an average child after they have learnt about moving their body and how to hear. So it makes sense that a dyslexia cure would tackle the symptoms in the same order.

There are several approaches to treating poor coordination. The most famous is the Dore Achievement Programme. This is the programme I used and it was very effective but other approaches exist. Such as Learning Breakthrough and INPP.

The symptom of poor phonological skills is harder to treat. There are various phonic teaching systems but these are designed to teach reading. What is required is a way of developing the ear’s ability to differentiate between any sounds not just the sounds needs for reading. This is where learning to sing can help because you need to be able to hear the differences in the notes. It also has the added benefit of improving the sense of rhythm and is a good at building self-confidence.

Once the motor and phonological problems have been tackled it is very likely that no special training will be required to tackle the remaining symptoms of poor reading, spelling and short-term memory. Now the brain has mastered the basics of movement and hearing as well as average child it will learn academic skill with the same ease as an average child. If further work is necessary then phonic and multi-sensory reading programmes are recommend. There are also numerous approaches to improving memory skills.

Curing dyslexia is possible but it certainly is not easy. To tackle even one symptom will take months of hard work, day in and day out. To tackle all of them is a task measured in years.

Previously on Myomancy: Dyslexia and fMRI, Singing Cavemen and Amusia

On the Myomancy Treatment Database: Balance, Coordination

Research: Neural deficits in children with dyslexia ameliorated by behavioral remediation: Evidence from functional MRI, Examining Rhythm and Melody Processing in Young Children Using fMRI [ PDF ].

ADD / ADHD, ADD / ADHD Medication, Auditory, Autism, Balance & Coordination, Books, Commercial Dyslexia Centres & Treatments, Dore Achievement Centres, Dyscalculia, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Food and Drink, Franchised Dyslexia Treatments, Games, Memory, Science, Visual, Web/Tech

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.

ADD / ADHD, Memory, Science

Following up on the research described in ADHD and Gifted Children, Developing Intelligence has an excellent article on the neurology of the child brain.
Although the metabolic efficiency is improved, this comes at a price, as discovered by the authors in simulating pruning in the midst of learning (just as actually occurs in childhood). Adult networks that undergo synaptic pruning actually lose the ability to retrieve the earliest memories. In humans, this phenomenon is known as ‘childhood amnesia,’ in which memories before the age of 5 are hazy, and those before 3 are almost completely inaccessible. This amnesia emerges from the networks because the earliest memories are stored in a highly distributed fashion, relying on many different neurons, while later memories are stored in a more sparse format. Therefore, early memories are more degraded by the pruning strategy because of sheer probability: more neurons participate in their representation, so they are more easily affected by changes to the network.
Overgrowth, Pruning and Infantile Amnesia

ADD / ADHD, Dyslexia, Memory, Web/Tech

I believe that stress has a major part to play in dyslexia and something that Myomancy has covered before (also here and here). Now research by Dr Gould of Princeton University is shedding light on how stress can prevent neurogenisis, the process of forming new brain cells.
From the brain’s perspective, stress is primarily signaled by an increase in the bloodstream of a class of steroid called glucocorticoids, which put the body on a heightened state of alert. But glucocorticoids can have one nasty side-effect: They are toxic for the brain. When stress becomes chronic, neurons stop investing in themselves. Neurogenesis ceases. Dendrites disappear. The hippocampus, a part of the brain essential for learning and memory, begins withering away“.
This comes from an excellent article from Seed Magazine called The Reinvention of the Self. Its long, detailed but readable and covers a range of issues that neurogenisis effects. This includes some interesting comments on about depression and antidepressant treatments.

Autism, Memory

New research from University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine has revealed some interesting facts about autistic memory.
First, the children with autism, compared to the matched controls, had poorer memory for complex information (many individual elements or one complicated element) in both word and picture form … Second, children with autism also had poor working memory for spatial information, or remembering over time where something was located once it was out of sight…. Second, children with autism also had poor working memory for spatial information, or remembering over time where something was located once it was out of sight.
The above quotes are from the press release. You can read a facsimile of the original article here: The Profile of Memory Function in Children with Autism