Books, Science

Baby Einstein and Brainy Baby videos may reduce infants vocabulary according to new research

Over the last few years there has been an explosion of educational videos for very young infants (3 months+) such as Baby Einstein and Brainy Baby. However there has been little or no evidence of their effectiveness or any benefit for the millions of dollars parents are spending on these videos and toys.

In the first study on whether Baby Einstein videos work, Dr Frederick Zimmerman, examined the vocabularies of infants that watched baby training videos and compared them to infants that did not watch the videos. For every hour per day spent watching baby DVDs and videos, infants understood an average of six to eight fewer words than infants who did not watch them. Six to eight words doesn’t sound like very much but in children under 16 months of age that is a large percentage of their vocabulary.

This research is part of a much large project that is examining the effects of TV on young children’s involving over 1,000 families in the Minnesota and Washington areas. The researchers where surprised at the results showing Baby Einstein reduces vocabulary.

“The results surprised us, but they make sense. There are only a fixed number of hours that young babies are awake and alert. If the ‘alert time’ is spent in front of DVDs and TV instead of with people speaking in ‘parentese’ – that melodic speech we use with little ones – the babies are not getting the same linguistic experience,” said Meltzoff, who is the chair in psychology at the University of Washington.

In contrast to the Baby Einstein videos, babies whose parents read them books or told then stories had slightly better langauge skills. Whereas parents talking or reading to their children involves a range of language skills, the researchers believe the baby DVDs and videos tend to have little dialogue, short scenes, disconnected pictures and shows linguistically indescribable images such as a lava lamp.

Is it time to throw away all those Baby Einstein videos and toys? Well maybe. The research needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. Firstly the actual study has not been published and all that is available is a press release from the university. Close examinations of the actual results or the methods used in the study may cast doubts over the research. Secondly, the makers of these products would say the videos are tools to stimulate interaction between parent and child. It must be suspected that many parents simply place their infant in front of the TV and expect the video to entertain and educate the baby all by itself.

Once the study has been scrutinized and further work done on the subject, then we may be able to say for sure if Baby Einstein videos make a positive or negative effect on a child’s development. As the researchers themselves put it:

“We don’t know for sure that baby DVDs and videos are harmful, but the best policy is safety first. Parents should limit their exposure as much as possible,” said Zimmerman. “Over the course of childhood, children spend more time watching TV than they do in school. So parents need to spend as much time monitoring TV and other media viewing as they do in monitoring their children’s school activities.”

Source: Baby DVDs, videos may hinder, not help, infants’ language development

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, ADD / ADHD Treatment, Balance & Coordination, Books

Stopping ADHD or to give its full title ‘Stopping ADHD. A Unique and Proven Drug-Free Program for Treating ADHD in Children and Adults’ combines in-depth knowledge, good writing and clear examples distilled from the authors life-long experience and academic knowledge of learning disabilities.

When I see any book or treatment I have rule of thumb, my quackary test, to guide me on its credibility. Firstly is it referred to as a ‘breakthrough’. This is usually a sign of hype by the book’s editor who really means ‘I’ve never heard of this before’. The bigger the font used, the less credible the book looks.

Secondly, how many things does does it claim to treat. The longer the list of illnesses and psychological problems something claims to help, the more I become suspicious. Assessing a treatment’s effectiveness on a single problem is a long, expensive and difficult task so the more problems they list, the less likely they have done any credible studies.

How does Stopping ADHD fair?

Well the book is focused on ADHD and nothing else so that is a good start but it does have ‘breakthrough’ on the cover. As it is in a small font size and comes from a quote by Lawrence Greenburg, developer of the TOVA ADHD diagnostic test it has some credibility.

Having judged the book by its cover, what about the contents? On reading it I was pleased to find its focus was the Symmetric Tonic Neck Reflex (STNR). This is one of a number of primitive reflexes that newborn children have. This reflex ties the movement of the neck, arms and legs together so that movement of one of these parts results in the movement of the others. This helps the baby learn basic movements such as sitting up and beginning to crawl. The STNR fades away as the baby learns to crawl and then walk, actions that require independent movement of the neck, arms and legs.

The central position of Stopping ADHD is that ADHD occurs in children who have retained their STNR and that this impacts on their education and development. The authors suggest that this occurs when a child has not crawled for long enough before walking. This creates problems when the child goes to school and is asked to sit at a desk and write. To write, you must use the arms but in the ADHD child, the arms and legs cannot move independently. This results in two outcomes. Either the child finds they have to jump up and move whenever they are asked to do writing. Or they contort themselves in such a manner that they can restrain the reflexive movements of the legs. It is here where the book really excels. It gives a clear, logical path between the STNR, a well documented biological / neurological factor, and behaviour in the classroom.

The second half of the book focuses on the treatment method developed at the Miriam Bender Achievement Center that the authors cofounded. The treatment, simply put, consists of the child on their hands and knees crawling whilst an adult provides gentle resistance to the limbs or torso. Through these movements the child loses their STNR and learns to move their limbs independently. This allows the child to sit and move as other children.

The book’s full title claims this to be a ‘unique and proven’ way of treating ADHD and it is in this the book falls a little short. Whilst the actual exercises are unique, the general principal is not. The STNR and the rest of the primitive reflexes have been central to the INPP research and approach to treating learning difficulties for thirty years.

The claim that it is a proven treatment is also problematic. I am sure this treatment works for lots of people who visit the authors’ clinic because the science behind it is solid and well documented. However there is a lack of proper study on the actual treatment. In the appendix the authors write up a study they did with a local elementary school but there is no indication that this study was ever published in a peer-reviewed journal.

This is a good book. The first half is excellent and should be read by parents and teachers alike. The treatment itself is logical and has the same basic principals as other effective treatments. I am however doubtful of how well a parent can read this book and then implement the treatment with their child. This is not a criticism of the book which explains the treatment well but merely a reflection of the fact that delivering treatments like this is a skilled task learnt from years of hands-on experience.

Stopping ADHD, A Unique and Proven Drug-Free Program for Treating ADHD in Children and Adults.
Nancy E. O’Dell and Patricia A. Cook.

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, Books, Dyscalculia, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Food and Drink

Here in the UK, Dr Robin Pauc is making a splash with his new book and his claim for cures for ADHD, dyslexia and most other developmental problems. His book, Is That my Child?, has received coverage in the Daily Mail and on GMTV. Dr Pauc belives that all the ‘conditions’ can be dramatically improved if the child is put on a junk-free healthy diet high in Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and follows a pattern of tailor-made exercises to stimulate the brain.
This is hardly a breakthrough. Fish oils with Omega 3 & 6 have been recommended for sometime, cutting out junk food will make anyone feel and perform better, and right type of exercise will stimulate the cerebellum.
At one level Dr Pauc is promoting the right approach to developmental problems. I’ve not read the book but I doubt there is anything in it I would disagree with. The problem is that he is making claims he cannot justify. Where are the peer-reviewed results of his double blind trials of his treatment? They simply don’t exist.
More worrying is that Dr Pauc is not a medical doctor or neurologist. He is a chiropractor. Ben Goldacre on Bad Science has a good piece on Dr Pauc qualifications in When in doubt, call yourself a doctor.

ADD / ADHD, Books

Being in Control: Natural Techniques for Increasing Your Potential and Creativity for Success in School is a package of two small books and a DVD aimed at helping children with ADHD. This package is unusual in that it is not aimed at the parents but instead is for the child with ADHD to read and watch. There is very little in the way of literature that explains at a child’s level to how to cope with ADHD.
The two books in the package are Being in Control and Creative Painting for the Young Artist. Both are about 30 pages with full of colour photos and illustration laid out it an effective manner. Being in Control covers relaxation techniques and ways to organize your time whilst the painting book has a collection of basic advice as well some ideas for activities.
There are some good ideas contained in the two booklets but there are also problems. There are too many generalities and whilst the book aims to calm, it contains comments that just add to the stress levels of a struggling child. On a page about how to improve your handwriting it says “Write on the line and not below or above it”. As a child I knew what I was supposed to do, I just couldn’t do it.
The booklets are aimed at the younger pre-teen child but sometime the language used is very dense. Terms like ‘self-actualization’ crop up along with phrases like “A pattern is a regular, systematic repetition”.
The DVD that is in the package is a waste of time. It consists of still images of the pages from the booklet with a few additional photos, some new-age type music and a voice over reading everything out. I can’t see any child let alone one with ADHD sitting through it. This is a shame because to see some of the booklet’s techniques demonstrated in live video would be a useful addition to the booklet. However the DVD tries to be a book that is watched as a film and this fails because the medium of film has very different dynamics to that of the printed word.
The whole package feels like Mark Alster, the author, is an accomplished one-on-one counselor for children with learning difficulties who is trying to put down his methods on paper. It is very difficult to capture the essence of a one-to-one encounter on paper and whilst Being In Control comes close in places it fails overall. If the booklets were available as a free download or a website I would not hesitate to recommend them but not for $12 plus P&P.

Autism, Books, Web/Tech

Bella Online, the Voice of Women, has a section for dealingAutistic Spectrum Disorders. It covers a wide range of autism advice and information for dealing with autistic children on a day-to-day basis. A good example is this book review of Behavior Intervention for young children with Autism.

"Since writing another book on her autistic children, the editor Catherine Maurice received so many calls from parents inquiring on behavioral programs and combining them with the countless types of therapies that families are trying to incorporate. She refers to the countless breakthrough treatments that parents flock to in order to cure the autism their child has. She feels that unless you can provide concrete scientific research to support said statements no one is really an authority on autism. There are an alarming number of professionals and parents that have come to rely on educators and therapists and they may not have all the facts, yet we rely on them to have the answers for our children".