For the first time in years the UK Government has said something sensible about education. From Yesterday in Parliament in the Guardian:
“The government rejected the claim that dyslexia does not exist, put forward in a Channel 4 Dispatches programme entitled “The Dyslexia Myth”. The junior education minister Lord Adonis said: “The very title of that programme gave rise to understandable anxiety that children’s needs might no longer be recognised and supported. It is important that we reassure parents that this is not the case.”“.
Previous coverage of the Dyslexia Myth: The Dyslexia Myth: First Thoughts, The Dyslexia Myth: Key Points and Transcript, The Dyslexia Myth: A Response, The Dyslexia Myth: So What is Dyslexia?, Dyslexia Not a Myth, Response to ‘The Dyslexia Myth’ from Maggie Snowling, Professor ‘Dyslexia Myth’ Elliott Interviewed
Professor Elliot, the front man for the C4 Dispatches program The Dyslexia Myth is featured in an interview in his local paper. The interview was published on the day of broadcast so makes no reference to the subsequent debate.
“He is not, he says, suggesting that dyslexia doesn’t exist at all. Nor is he saying that children who are diagnosed as dyslexic are, in fact, just not very bright. Most importantly, he is not saying that children with reading difficulties should not get extra help. In fact, he is saying the opposite: that all children with problems should be given support, and should not have to wait to be diagnosed as dyslexic“.
Whilst I agree with his statement you have to wonder about a man who takes part in a program called The Dyslexia Myth and then a conference called The Death of Dyslexia yet says he is not claiming dyslexia doesn’t exist.
Problems sleeping have been associated with ADHD (Snoring, Sleep and Hyperactivity) and watching television has been linked to ADHD (TV and ADHD). Now we have a link between TV and sleep patterns.
Studying the viewing and sleeping habits of 2068 children between 4 and 35 months old researchers from Seattle, USA, found that the more television watched, the more irregular their sleeping habits became. The conclusion was: "Television viewing among infants and toddlers is associated with irregular sleep schedules. More research is warranted to determine whether this association is causal".
Abstract: The Association Between Television Viewing and Irregular Sleep Schedules Among Children Less Than 3 Years of Age
Tonight (Thursday 6th October) at 9pm BBC 2’s Horizon program will be investigating the role of Omega 3 in the brain and the claims made by supplement manufacturers. “On TV: Could Fish Make My Child Smart? There now seems no end to the claims made about the benefits of Omega 3. Horizon attempts to unravel the legitimacy of each of these claims“.
Gary Cole who plays Vice-President ‘Bingo Bob’ Russell in the West Wing (one of the best TV series ever to come out of America) has a twelve year-old autistic daughter. He and his family are featured in TAP, The Autism Perspective, magazine. Unfortunately the website has no content and plays annoying music.
Featured on last night’s Inside Out progam was The Sound Learning Centre. The centre provides a range of light and sound therapies and I have been assessed and received light treatment from them.
In a ten minute segment, the program followed Harry Phillips and his mother Carrie as Harry received treatment for his aspergers syndrome. Harry, about ten years old, was a clever and articulate child but suffered from symptoms common in aspergers such as clumsiness, very fussy eating habits and sensitive hearing. Carrie commented that she couldn’t hoover when he was in the house because of the pain the noise caused him.
The Auditory Integration Training (AIT) was demonstrated to the TV show’s frontman by Pauline Allen who runs the cente and we were treated to a snatch of Fleetwood Mac (from the Rumours album I think) played through the equipment. The treatment works by dropping out certain frequencies and switching ears so it sounds like you are listening to a distant radio station on a hot summer night. The music fading and returning as the signals bounce and distort around the upper atmosphere.
Helen Woods, a highly autistic child, and her mother were also featured. They had received the treatment a year ago and Mrs Woods was delighted with it, commetting “after five days [of treatment] we were able to go in to cafe without Helen screaming, running around and knocking chairs over“. She also commented that Helen had started making more speech like sounds and could begin to communicate but Mrs Woods emphasized that this wasn’t a cure for autism.
The progam returned to Harry and his mother at the end of his AIT treatment. When Carrie was asked had the treatment worked “Absolutely” was the answer. The presenter asked how could be sure that this wasn’t just Harry progressing as he got older? Carrie’s response was the speed of the change is too quick. Harry had been using the hoover yet ten days ago the sound of the Hoover was painful to him. He also seemed more coordinated.
This was an extremely good feature on The Sound Learning Centre with very balanced BBC reporting. A relief after the distortions of ‘The Dyslexia Myth‘. It was a shame they did not feature the assessment stage of the treatment as it is extensive and would of made the process look more creditable. Overall the program did a good job demonstrating the speed and effectiveness of the treatment whilst highlighting the weakness of the science behind it.
The Sound Learning Centre is based in Palmer’s Green, north London, UK. They will be having an open house on the 20th October 2005.
See also: Hyperacusis, Light & Sound Sensitivity Effects Readers, The Senses of Autism,
BBC: Inside Out investigates how sound therapy may be helping some autistic children live with their condition
Education News has an interview with Professor Elliot, one of the leading figures in the recent Dyslexia Myth program. It doesn’t say a lot that is new though it does communicate his central message, reading ability is not related to IQ, better that he did in the program or the TES article.
Thanks to Liz at I Speak of Dreams for spotting this article.
“BBC television will feature The Sound Learning Centre on its ‘Inside Out’ regional current affairs programme, to be broadcast by BBC ONE (London region) on Monday evening 19 September from 7.30 till 8.00pm. Viewers outside the London Region can see this programme on SKY channel 944 [NTL 926]. The programme will follow clients from first contact with the Centre, during 10 days of Sound and Light treatment, right through to the final day of treatment and includes interviews with the children, their parents and Pauline Allen, the principal of The Sound Learning Centre“.
The Sound Learning Centre provides a range of visual and audio based treatments for a dyslexia, ADHD, autism and other developmental problems. Read my account my assessment and light therapy treatment and watch the show. It will be an interesting contrast to the ‘The Dyslexia Myth‘.
The Dyslexia Myth heavily promoted a system of teaching reading that was developed by Peter Hatcher and initially implemented in Cumbria, UK. Cumbrian County Council has details on the Reading Intervention program as it is implemented in their region. The approach taken by North Yorkshire Local Education Authority and featured in ‘The Dyslexia Myth’ was the School-based Intervention Programmes for Children with Speech & Language.
York University carried out a comparison between the Reading Intervention (RI) system developed by Peter Hatcher and Department of Education’s Early Literacy Support (ELS) approach. They found that both were successful in raising enabling six year olds struggling with reading to catch-up with their peers. There was some difference in between the two systems but these were marginal compared to their overall success.
Part of the Reading Intervention system called Sound Linkage can be purchased from Amazon.
Professor Maggie Snowling who featured strongly in ‘The Dyslexia Myth‘ has published a response to the program via York University’s Centre for Reading Language.
No one in the field of education would deny that there are myths surrounding dyslexia … But this does not mean that dyslexia is a myth … there is strong scientific evidence concerning the nature, causes and consequences of dyslexia. Thus, dyslexia can be readily identified by educated professionals …. [but] It is no longer relevant to ask ‘who is dyslexic and who is not’. Rather, the skills underlying the acquisition of reading are continuously distributed in the population, such that some people find learning to read and write a trivial matter whereas others, notably children with dyslexia, have extreme difficulty … a massive consensus that learning to read depends upon phonological (speech) processing skills. Children who come to the task of learning to read with poor phonology are at high risk of dyslexia. …. If they do not receive intervention, they try to compensate by relying on visual skills, their reading and spelling development proceeds on the wrong trajectory and subsequently goes awry. … it is important to note that phonological abilities do not depend on IQ … Our research suggests that some 75% of children identified at risk of reading problems in Year 1 respond positively to such programmes. The remaining 25% continue to give cause for concern, and will include those with dyslexia whose problems are likely to persist. … A crucial question therefore is whether, if appropriate procedures for the identification, assessment and intervention of children at risk of reading problems were put in place in all schools, dyslexia would go away? The answer is quite simply no. Dyslexia is a brain-based disorder with consequences that persist from the pre-school years through to adulthood. Good teaching delivered at the right time will not eradicate the condition but it will greatly help these children learn to read and write and cope with the demands of our educational system.