Though Myomancy.com focuses non-language / education based methods of dealing with dyslexia its worth remembering that there are more traditional approaches that work. One of these is the Orton-Gillingham Multisensory Method. It is a phonics based program taught one-to-one in a manner that suits how most dyslexic people learn, i.e. multi-sensory with a slow, steady step-by-step approach. There is a more in-depth write up of here. This comes from an informative web site called Bright Solution for Dyslexia.
The Orton-Gillingham approach is used or has been adapted by a number of individual teachers and centres around the country. One of the biggest is Lindamood-Bell who have centres all over the US and one in the UK.
Many thanks Liz and her blog I Speak of Dreams which, amongst other things, deals with dyslexia and other education issues.
Meares–Irlen Syndrome is the description given to dyslexics whose reading can be improved by use of coloured lens or overlays. Its also known as Scotopic sensitivity syndrome. When it was first suggested that colour may make a difference to reading it met with a skeptical response in part because Helen Irlen set up the Irlen Institure to promote and sell coloured glasses.
However some research has been done to prove or disprove the existence Meares-Irlen Syndrome. Research [PDF] at the University of Essex, UK, found “that between one-fifth and one-third of unselected school-children show a significant (> 5%) improvement in their rate of reading with their chosen overlay“. Further research [PDF] on 33 children and adults with learning difficulties found “that, in some people, Intuitive Overlays significantly improve the rate of reading. Our data further demonstrate that this improvement in performance cannot be attributed to conventional optometric anomalies nor to placebo effects. We conclude that, inappropriately selected patients, individually prescribed coloured filters can have a beneficial effect not only on symptoms (Wilkins et al., 1994) but also on immediate reading performance“.
Work done at the University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia looked at the long-term effects of coloured filters [Abstract]. Their results showed “The treatment groups increased at a significantly greater rate than the control group in reading accuracy and reading comprehension“.
Previous coverage on Myomancy.com: Coloured Lenses
EYE is a device promoted as "The Total Vision Workout". This is not a specific treatment for dyslexia or ADHD / ADD but there is a lot of evidence that visual problems can be an issue (Vision and Learning, Coloured Lenses). The site makes references to a study done at the Pacific University College of Optometry but there is no link to the actual study. The college however does have a web page available on the study and has photos of the device in action.
Dr Liberman describes himself as a visionary and has doctorates in Optometry and Vision Science. He has written two books: Light: Medicine of the Future and Take Off Your Glasses and See.
It has often been noted that some aspects of dyslexia and autism are just different points on the same spectrum. This includes problems reading facial emotions and has even been suggested as an early diagnostic tool for autistic children.
A recent study [PDF of full text] in the Journal of Vision has been comparing how we recognise faces and how we read words. Myomancy has covered the question of how we read (The Psychology of Reading) before and the basic debate is do we recognise the word as a whole unit or do we identify the individual letters and work out what they spell? The same same question applies to the face; do we employ a holistic approach or do we identify individual features. The study examines the impact of crowding, e.g. how close the letters / features are together and it demonstrated that facial and word recognition skill worked in very similar ways. This may give us a reason why poor reading skills often go hand in hand with poor social skills.
An interesting study [PDF] conducted by the School of Communication at Northwest University on the confusion that can arise if we watch someones lips making one sound and hear a different sound. This problem integrating the visual cues and the auditory cues is called the McGurk effect (try it out, background ). The study found that children with learning difficulties were effected differently than those without problems. This suggests some underlying difference in the brain relating to how visual and sound cues are combined.
Birmingham (UK) City Council are planning a training programme for teachers to help them spot children with visual dyslexia. Children with this problem benefit from Irlen or coloured lens. The programme has evolved out of a conference held last year on the subject. One of the speakers was Dr Frank Eperjesi, a leading researcher in this area from Aston University.
From the Birmingham Post: News about the programme and of last years conference.
Back in October I went for an assessment at The Sound Learning Centre and enrolled on a light treatment programme. I’m pleased to say that after about a month of usage that it has worked.
New Scientist is reporting the development of a new diagnostic tool that allows the diagnosis of ADHD using an eye tracking test. This may be an important step forward as ADHD is normally a subjective diagnosised based on behaviour or cognative tests. The eye-tracking test measures how long the participant can track a spot of light moving on a screen. Normal children could track for 30 seconds to five minutes but ADHD sufferers could only track for three to five seconds. The test also points the way to future work in indentifying those who patients who would respond well to drug treatment such as Ritalin.
Neuroscientists in the USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences have conducted a study examining the magnocellular (M) and parvocellular (P) visual pathways. The M pathway processes motion and brightness where as the P processes colors and fine details.
The study on 55 children aged 8 to 12, with 28 identified as dyslexics and 27 as non-dyslexics. The children hit a button when they saw a rectangle of black-and-white stripes appear on a computer screen. By adjusting how much the stripes contrasted with the background, the team compared the ability of the children to detect two different patterns, a flashing pattern that stimulates the M pathway and a stationary one processed by the P pathway. Dyslexics and non-dyslexics were equally able to detect both M- and P-type patterns. But when researchers added visual noise, in the form of TV “snow”, on top of the pattern that a difference emerged. Patterns had to be 10 percent more contrasting for children with dyslexia to detect them compared with non-dyslexics.
USC Press Release
Following my assessment at the Sound Learning Centre I’ve been undergoing a course of light therapy treatments using Photron light simulator from created by Biotechtronics. This involves sitting in front of the machine in a dark environment for 20 minutes a day looking at flashing light. The colour and frequency of the light changes each day. The idea behind the treatment is to retrain my brain, to desensitise it to the colours that are causing me a problem.