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.
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.
If you could make a magic pill that cured dyslexia or ADHD how do you go about getting it to the most number of people who need it? You can’t just give it away. Even magic pills cost money to make and they certainly cost money to post. Giving the recipe to the Government with their track record would not get the pill to the people who desperately need it. It seems that in order to help the most number of people you need to be a commercial company, competing in what Professor Elliot calls the ‘Dyslexia Industry’.
However this raises all sorts of ethical issues such as how much money can a commercial company make before its taking advantage of its customers? You have the right to some reward for your effort because everyone needs to pay their mortgage and build up their retirement plan. Companies also need to make a profit to reward their employees’ hard work, repay their investors and to build savings so that they can help more people in the future.
To generate this money companies need to advertise and here it becomes very hard. You want to get your magic pill to as many people as need it but in a TV advert you have 30 seconds to explain your magic pill. On a web-page such as this one, adverts have to be 25 words long. Creating an advert that is truthful and will catch the viewer’s eye is very difficult in 30 seconds or 25 words.
Have a look at the adverts on the left of this web-site. Are they truthful? Are the ethical? Here is one for Dore / DDAT that has appeared on Myomancy:
“ADHD Tests and Treatment: Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder. Proven, drug free remedy. www.dorecentres.co.uk“
Dore certainly do ADHD tests and offer a drug free treatment but what about the word “Proven“. From my own experience I know its proven. I know that Mr Dore and his research team believe its proven but other people disagree. So is this advert ethical and truthful?
What about when to advertise? On Google and Yahoo adverts are displayed according to what you are searching for. Over on I Speak of Dreams, Liz is highlighting a company called Sylvan which offers tuition suitable for normal children but its adverts appear when people search for dyslexia tutors. Is this ethical?
Most companies involved in the ‘dyslexia industry’ are genuinely trying to help children and adults with learning difficulties but even these companies make mistakes with their adverts. The way to tell between a company that is genuinely trying to help people and those that are not is how they respond to complaints. A good company publicly acknowledges their mistakes and ensures the problem never repeats itself. A bad company ignores the complaint or tries to suppress the dissenting voices.
Bramhall is a small suburb of Stockport in the north-west of the UK and is home to the Bramhall Neuro-Developmental Therapy Practice. The practice is run by Lyn Wells who uses a variety of techniques to help children and adults with learning difficulties. I travelled up to Bramhall to see first-hand a treatment that intrigued me.
Interactive Metronome is a treatment for ADHD and other learning difficulties that involves developing the child’s or adult’s sense of rhythm. This connection between learning problems and poor rhythm is strong but not obvious.
fMRI studies are used to show what areas of the brain are working the hardest when performing specific task. This technology was used to study the brains of music professions whilst they played various pieces of music and scales on the piano. One of the areas of the brain strongly linked to rhythm is the cerebellum, an area of the brain that has been repeatedly linked with learning difficulties. Several treatment programs such as DDAT and Brain Gym focus on training the cerebellum through physical activity to improve academic performance. This approach seems to work, at least for some people with learning difficulties. Interactive Metronome attacks problems with the cerebellum with a double-whammy. Physical movements such as clapping train up the areas of the cerebellum the control the gross-motor skills whilst simultaneously the rhythmic aspect train the self-control and timing area of the cerebellum. These in turn have an impact on general coordination, mental processing speed and the ability to focus your attention.
The Interactive Metronome system consists of two sensors, one for the hands and one for the feet, headphones and a computer. The computer plays via the headphones a regular beat, sounding rather like a cow-bell. The user claps their hands or taps their feet in time with the beat. The sensors detect this and feed the information into the computer which analyses whether the clapping or foot-tapping was early, late or spot on.
The first step of any treatment is an assessment of your current capabilities. This included fourteen different tests including simple hand clapping, clapping whilst balancing on one leg, and alternating clapping with one hand on the thigh whilst tapping the opposite foot. This last one is a real test of cross-lateral ability. For each test the average number of milli-seconds between when the beat was and when you reacted was reported. Anything within 15 milli-seconds is counted as spot-on.
My results showed an average inaccuracy of 90.1 milliseconds across all the tests. This places me in a below-average category. I’m sure a few years ago I would have been much worse but my DDAT treatment and subsequent practice with Bop-It and various Playstation games such as Eye-Toy Groove have helped.
The treatment process with Interactive Metronome is adapted to the individual but will generally consists of fifteen hours using the equipment split into three sessions a week over a number of weeks. In total a treatment program will consist of approximately 35,000 claps.
A training session is very similar to the assessment process except the user gets feedback through the headphones and visually. When you hit a beat spot-on a sound plays in both ears. If you are early a different sound is played into the left ear only and if it is late, another sound is played into the right ear. These sounds are matched by visual feedback on the computer monitor. The feedback guides the user so that their claps or toe-tapping gets closer to the metronone’s beat. This feedback is introduced slowly and learning to integrate it is important in developing concentration, sensory integration and focusing attention.
Unfortunately there are relatively few practitioners around (the Interactive Metronome web site has a list) so finding one may be pot luck. The practitioners also have to be good because the basic mechanics of the training, e.g. clapping, could be dull. So its important, especially for children with attention difficulties, for the practitioner to engage the child and keep their attention.
Overall Interactive Metronome is a treatment well worth considering. It is not silver bullet to education and behavioral problems but it can help. If you are in the UK then Bramhall NDT can provide a friendly and effective centre for treatment.
Research: Neural Basis of the Comprehension of Musical Harmony, Melody, and Rhythm [ PDF ].
Also on Myomancy: Rhythm and Dyslexia, Cerebellum More Than Just a Motor, The Cerebellum and ADHD
The Bramhall NDT Practice is located near Stockport in the UK. They provide a range of therapies including INPP, Interactive Metronome, Johansen Sound Therapy and LUCID assessments. Run by Lyn Wells, the practice is small, friendly and efficient.
The Bishops Stortford Citizen, a UK local paper in London, has a very unquestioning piece about an education centre franchising the Brightstar approach. Inevitably Duncan Goodhew gets mentioned without revealing his financial interests in Brightstar.
Much of what was covered in The Dyslexia Myth was good and raised important points about the UK education system, a lot of which I suspect applies to other countries as well. However in some places it made factual errors, in other places the logic of its argument was weak and the whole tone of the program was designed to cause controversy. My main criticism are:
Why entitle the program ‘The Dyslexia Myth’ and feature Professor Elliott dismissing dyslexia in quite an aggressive manner when this will inevitably upset diagnosed children and their parents? The program could of been more constructive, framing exactly the same content in positive terms. Rather than call dyslexia a myth it should of focused how science has enabled us to expand the usage of the term dyslexia to all people with reading problems. This would of been non-confrontational and yet still reflect the dire need we have to improve education for those with reading problems.
The program claimed the cause of reading problems was solely down to an inability to hear or decipher the phonetics in speech. Yet the program also comments that dyslexic’s handwriting, like their reading, is equivalent to an average child several years younger. Why would handwriting be effected by the ability to hear phonetics? Spelling obviously would suffer but even if the child is writing letters backward, why do they not have the same neatness and control? This high correlation between poor handwriting / penmanship and dyslexia suggests that there is a wider problem than poor hearing.
The program attacked the use of coloured lenses on the basis that there is no evidence and presumably because they do not improve the ability hear though it did grudgingly admit that tints can relieve eye-strain and migraines. Isn’t it obvious that if a child suffers from eye-strain or migraines when trying to read then this might restrict their ability and desire to read?
The program also attacked the DDAT / Dore exercise program saying that its study was ‘panned’ by the scientific community. Firstly DDAT / Dore have done several studies and whilst they all have flaws they have been improving. Secondly the criticism is not about whether the treatment works but if you can prove to a scientific standard that it can work. There are a lot children and adults who have been through the DDAT / Dore programme and found it has changed their lives, myself included. However the DDAT / Dore programme doesn’t work for everyone but it should be noted that The Dyslexia Myth did not claim that the Cumbrian scheme would be successful for everyone.
The program was overall negative about commercial or semi-commercial treatments for dyslexia including the Dyslexia Institute. Yet until our schools have the resources and ability to provide high quality one-to-one tuition for dyslexics then parents will be forced to pay money for treatments to help their child. Without doubt some of the claims made by commercial companies are overly ambitious but that is the nature of businesses in a competitive market.
It claimed the Cumbrian reading program was the best way helping those with reading problem yet also highlighted the amount of training and monitoring staff need to implement the program. The program even highlighted the problems of rolling it out it on a nationwide scale. The results of the Cumbrian reading program are impressive but if we cannot implement it into our schools within realistic time-scales and budgets then what use is it? Other programs based on movement such as that developed by INPP produce similar results over a longer time frame but may be easier to implement.
I’ve summerised the key points that the Channel 4 Dispatches program The Dyslexia Myth was trying to make. I will responded to those points in another post.
Dyslexia is believed by most lay people to be a reading problem affecting bright children however research tells us that dyslexia is not related to intelligence in way, hence the ‘myth’ in the title.
Reading problems / dyslexia cannot be solved by coloured or tinted lens nor by excercise problems such as Dore.
Reading problems / dyslexia is caused by a neurological problem in the area of the brain that detects subtle changes in the spoken word.
This neurological problem can be caused by genetics.
This neurological problem can be caused by the child’s environment.
This neurological problem can occur in girls just as often as in boys.
Parents who talk to infants, sing nursery rhymes and read to them reduce the chance of the neurological problem occurring.
The neurological problem can be fixed if addressed by the right training whilst the brain is still young and plastic.
Having reading problems / dyslexia can cause a downward spiral of IQ as the child does not have the same opportunities to improve their vocabulary and knowledge as good readers.
The best way to treat reading problems / dyslexia in schools is an intensive reading programme pioneered in Cumbria, UK.
UK Government’s school literacy program is a waste of money and they need to implement the Cumbrian program.
The Alexander Technique is an alternative therapy that teaches awareness of your body and how you move. The theory is that we develop habitual movement patterns that damage are health such as hunching or slouching whilst sitting which compresses the organs and constricts breathing. The technique does not teach posture as such. Instead it gives you and understanding of how your body works and feels like when it is correctly balance. Once the principles are learned it is possible to apply them to any situation.
As with many alternative therapies web sites, Alexander Technique practitioners list numerous issues that they can help which commonly dyslexia and ADHD. So with my history of dyslexia and poor posture from a lifetime working with computers I decided to give it a try. I found a local teacher, Ann Kestenbaum and started attending once a week. Each session lasts about 40 minutes with the first twenty minutes spent with me standing, sitting and moving under Ann’s guidance. The second part involves lying on a massage table whilst Ann’s moved my head, neck and limbs. Alexander Technique is a therapy which involve active participation by the patient. Even when lying on the table you are required to pay attention to how your body feels. Despite this active involvement it is a very calming and relaxing process.
Does it work? That depends on you objectives. It won’t cure dyslexia or ADHD (something no self-respecting practitioner would claim) but it can make you feel better and help deal with some of the symptoms. I kept up with the treatment for over a year (which at £140 per 6 sessions is not cheap) so I obviously felt I was benefitting. I am more aware of my posture, less tense and generally move better. Other people have commented on this without prompting so the change isn’t purely internal.
How it works is more debatable. Firstly any treatment has a good chance of generating the placebo effect. This is not a criticism of the method. If something makes you feel better, even if its a placebo, you are still gaining benefits from it. A second possible explanation is that it helps with primitive reflexes. These are patterns of movements that are seen in infants but in normal children they disappear over the first two years of life. There is a lot evidence that in dyslexic and ADHD children these reflexes are retained. A lot of Alexander Technique focus on the neck which is also the site of two important primitive reflexes: Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex and the Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex .
Thirdly the Alexander Technique may improve the cerebellum, an area of the brain that has been linked with dyslexia and ADD, especially by Dore Centres / DDAT. The main role of the cerebellum is coordination of thoughts and actions, something which is often poor in children with learning difficulties. Through the Alexander Technique you learn to move your body in a controlled manner which requires you to learn a level of mental discipline. It should not be forgotten that the body is a very complex organism that is sending many different pieces of information to the brain: How hot am I? Where are my legs? What can my fingers feel? Do I need to go to the toilet? With all this information rushing into the brain, swamping the under-developed cerebellum, its conceivable that as a coping strategy the brain just ignores it. This could give rise to the clumsiness and inattentive behavior as the child is ignoring the signals the body sends it. With the Alexander Technique, it possible to become aware of the bodies signals in a controlled manner.
The scientific research on the benefits of the Alexander Technique on learning difficulties is very, very, sparse. Some studies have been made looking at how it might help a range of areas from parkinson’s disease to improving musical performance the results of which were equivocal so no firm conclusion can be drawn from them.
The bottom line is that I would not generally recommend Alexander Technique as a treatment for dyslexia or ADHD because I think approaches undertaken by INPP or DDAT are more effective though you are more likely to find an Alexander Technique practitioner near you. I would strong recommend the technique to older teenagers or adults who have already made good progress with DDAT or similar. Habits of movement developed because of dyslexia need to broken and new habits learnt once the underlying cause of the problem has been dealt with.
The Alexander Technique International website has a list of practitioners all over the world. The Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique has listings of teachers in the UK and beyond. American Society for the Alexander Technique has listings for the US and elsewhere.
Related Articles: The Ear and the Alexander Technique
Back in February we reported Autism Documentary Nominated for Oscar. In the documentary an autistic young woman appears to make a miraculous recovery from using a technique called Facilitated Communication.
An article in the Pasadena Weekly and featured on AltWeeklies.com gives a good overview of autism and highlights the discredited nature Facilitated Communication. “Then the phenomenon took a strange turn. An inordinate number of children and their facilitators started accusing their parents or others of sexual abuse. Parents and caretakers were arrested, children were placed in foster care, and many lives were ruined. Not until it reached this level of controversy did people begin to question some obvious inconsistencies. For instance, often the autistic people did not even look at the keyboard, while the facilitators never took their eyes off of it. … When scientists stepped in, more than 50 controlled studies and blind tests, in addition to numerous controlled tests conducted in legal cases, revealed FC as a hoax. These studies showed, without a doubt, that the FC messages were controlled by the facilitators, not the disabled people.”