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

Dore Achievement Centres, Dyspraxia

Spotted by Lesley, this long piece covers the ever more bitter dispute between Dore and the phonetics crowd led by Dyslexia Action and Professor Snowling as well as one parents personal experience with Dore for dyspraxia.

As Felix enters his teens, the line between dyspraxia and normal scuzzy behaviour is beginning to blur. Most teenage boys are lazy, eat with their faces three inches from their plates, spill things, forget what you’ve said within five minutes, and would have you do up their ties and put on their socks in the morning while they sleep on, were you so willing. He shows little improvement in any of the above areas, but after nearly a year on the Dore programme he has greater confidence and a developing sense of himself. He no longer says “I’m rubbish at everything” when the going gets tough. He seems able to retain more of the information he’s learnt, and is getting better results. His half-term grades last year were: history, 30%; French, 33%; maths, 34%. This year they were 59%, 80%, 68%.

Making the right move?

ADD / ADHD, ADD / ADHD Treatment, Balance & Coordination, Dyslexia, Dyslexia Treatment, Dyspraxia, Games, Music

West Virginia is putting the computer game Dance Dance Revolution into every one of its public schools. Whilst West Virginia’s aim is to tackle obesity it also has a potential to improve pupils’ coordination and rhythm skills. This could have a significant impact on their academic achievement.

This initiative by West Virginia also signifies a major shift in educational thinking about computer games. Previously the negative effects of video games, lack of physical activity and the possible links to violence, have been the focus of the education establishments. By putting Dance Dance Revolution into schools they are accepting that video games can have a positive effect. It simply depends on the game and the context it which it is played.

There are various games we have featured on Myomancy that can be positive. Ranging from the low-tech Cornhole throwing game, the hand-held electronic game Bop-It, games that measure physiological responds where you have to relax to win and games to help with ADHD. The data on how effective the games are is thin and a great deal more research is need. However there is a great deal of circumstantial evidence such as how surgeons who played more computer games perform better. The skills these games teach include spatial awareness, attention control, problem solving, physical coordination and memory. Many of the skills children with dyslexia and ADHD lack.

Source: Dancing video game helps kids avoid weight gain

See also: Switch on the TV and Dance

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.

ADD / ADHD, Autism, Dyscalculia, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Food and Drink

Omega 3 and Omega 6 fish oils are believed to provide benefits for a wide range of problems including dyslexia, ADHD and autism. However the many different types of fish oils and seed oils it can get confusing.

Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA) and Linoleic Acid (LA)

ALA and LA are the fatty acids generally referred to as Omega 3 and Omega 6. They are found in some seeds and dark leafy vegetables. They are an essential part our diets (and sometimes called essential fatty acids) because we have to get them from an external source as the body cannot create or store them in the body. In scientific literature linoleic acid is referred to as 8:2(n-6) and alpha-linolenic acid as 18:3(n-3)

Stearidonic Acid (SA) and Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA)

After the linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid enter the body they are converted into SA and GLA. Evening primrose oil naturally contains GLA and GLA is often seen as the best form to take omega-6 fatty acids which is why evening primrose oil is often used in dietary supplements.

Eicosatetraenoic Acid (ETA) and Dihomo-Gamma-Linolenic Acid (DGLA)

Next the body converts SA into ETA and GLA into DGLA . Then its a short, biological step to …

Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Arachidonic Acid (AA)

These two fatty acids are critical for the human body. AA plays a role in more than twenty different signalling paths that control a bewildering array of bodily functions, but especially those functions involving inflammation and the central nervous system. EPA softens the inflammatory effects of AA and low dietary intake of EPA is associated with a variety of inflammation-related diseases.

Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) and Docosapentaenoic acid (DPA)

The final step in the chain is DHA and DPA. These are the actual substances used in the body and have been linked to mental health problems such as ADHD and depression and also physical problems like heart disease.

Though the body can convert ALA to DHA and LA to DPA, a lot of these fatty acids can be found directly in food. For example oily fish is high in EPA. It is not clear whether it is better to take the ALA or LA and let the body convert it or start as far down the chain as possible with EPA or AA. Arguments can be made for both approaches.

Previously on Myomancy:
ADHD and Omega Fish Oils
The Incredible Brain: A Miner Recovered
Fish Oils Calm ADHD Children?
Omega-3 & 6 Link to Mental and Physical Health Problems

The LCP Solution

ADD / ADHD, Balance & Coordination, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia

Critics of the Dore Achievement Centre‘s claim it is simply throwing a bean bag around. This gross simplification has an element truth. Developing hand / eye coordination is a major part of the programme and it does use a bean bag extensively. Now there is a game growing popular in the mid-west of the USA that is simple enough for anyone of any age to play and helps to develop coordination.

Cornhole is a cross between horseshoes and bowls. Players take turns throwing bean bags at a target, scoring three points if they get it through a hole in the centre of the target, or one point if the bag lands on the target. The first to 21 wins.

Why might Cornhole be good for people with ADHD, dyslexia or other learning difficulty?

Feedback and fun.

Children and adults with learning problems often are very poor at detecting feedback because their underdeveloped cerebellum is constantly being overload with sensory information. By having a simple rules and a simple scoring system, players have a simple measure of how well they are doing.

Cornhole can be played on your own or with any number of other people. There is also plenty of scope for making up your own rules to make the game easier or harder. This allows it to be molded to fit the players ability level, a critical aspect for any game to be fun. A game that is too hard or too easy will turn people off. A game that provides the right level of challenge, reward and skill development is fun.

Previously on Myomancy: Dore Achievement Centres
See also: Cornhole Players, Theory of Fun

ADD / ADHD, ADD / ADHD Treatment, Autism, Dyscalculia, Dyslexia, Dyslexia Treatment, Dyspraxia

The Scotsman newspaper has an article on Sarah Marshal, an INPP trained therapist, who operates out of a GP surgery.

Using a programme based on evidence that dyslexia, dyspraxia, attention deficiency disorder and under-achievement are linked to a glitch in young children’s reflex development skills, psychologist Sarah Marshall uses a series of simple, repetitive exercises to help her patients learn vital movement skills they should have developed while still in their pram.

Easy does it in quest to conquer dyslexia

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, Dyscalculia, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Visual

I’m currently using the Exercise Your Eyes device to improve my visual skills such as tracking. Its been about two months since I gave you my first impressions and its seems to be going well. I’ll post more soon but I am noticing a difference.
This got me more interested in vision therapy and the role it plays in children’s academic, sporting and social development. Digging around a bit I’ve found PAVE, Parents Active for Vision Education, an organisation campaigning for better recognition of the role undetected visual problem plays in children’s lives. It also promotes practical advice for preventing eye problems information on vision therapy.
See also this article in the Pioneer Press entitled Can vision therapy help kids learn?. It provides a balanced round up of the debate over the effectiveness of visual therapy.

Previously on Myomancy: Visual Problems Equals Learning Problems?