Back in August we reported on a new font called Read Regular that was designed specifically for dyslexics. In the font, the letters a subtly different so, for example, b and d are not mirror images of each other. The idea being that it makes each letter more distinct and easier to read.
Now the Chrysalis Book Group are publishing books using this font. The Read Regular web site has very little on it so there is no evidence that this font actually helps. It would be nice to see controlled trials of reading speeds using this font. Regardless of this, it is good to see publishers considering the problems of dyslexics when creating books.
The inability to hear someone when there is a persistent background noise has been described as Cocktail Party Deafness. This has been linked to hearing deficits exhibited by many dyslexics and ADHD sufferers (see Assessment at the Sound Learning Centre for more details). An in-depth look at all the factors involved in hearing in a noisy environment can be found here: A Review of The Cocktail Party Effect by Dr Arons of MIT.
There is a well written article covering the emotional aspects of being dyslexic over on The International Dyslexia Association website: Social and Emotional Problems Related to Dyslexia
” … Margaret Bruck, in her review of the research, offers two possible explanations for these problems:
* First, the social and emotional difficulties of dyslexia, “are part or a manifestation of the same disorder as is responsible for academic failure.”
* Second, Bruck suggests that because dyslexia puts the child at odds with his environment, he experiences great stress, which in turn creates many problems in social and emotional adjustment.“
See also: Stress And Dyslexia, Stress and Memory.
Fast Forward Language is a computer based phonics method of teaching language skills. There is good and positive assessment [HTML via Google, PDF] of it by the FCRR.
Mind Hacks is an excellent blog related to all things neural. A current post, Health Report on the science and ethics of ADHD, has information on an ABC Radio National program on ADHD.
“The programme discusses progress in current treatments for ADHD and the latest findings in causes, mechanisms and confusions in understanding the condition.“
This research centre does exactly what is says. It researches reading. As well as a lot of extremely good research papers and publications they have a section for parents.
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.
Generation Rescue are a non-profit organisation that highlights the link between autism and mercury poisoning. Mercury is slightly toxic in its liquid state but highly toxic if inhaled or in various compounds. Its known to cause liver and brain damage.
Surprisingly mercury is used in vaccinations given to children mostly in a chemical called Thimerosal which acts as a preservative. A study on mice found that it did have an effect on development but a Danish study found no link between autism and Thimerosal. In fact autism rates increased after Thimerosal was banned,
Mercury is also released by coal firing power stations. In a study published in Health and Place researchers found that "On average, for each 1000 lb of environmentally released mercury, there was a 43% increase in the rate of special education services and a 61% increase in the rate of autism."
Following on from Self-Esteem Not All Its Cracked Up To Be, it turns out IQ scores are a very poor predictor of academic achievement as well.
Dr. Kevin McGrew is Director of the Institute for Applied Psychometrics has just started a new blog about intelligence. In an early post he highlights the fact that IQ only predicts 40% – 50% of school achievement. That is, 50% of children do better or worse than it their IQ suggests.
This will come as no surprise to many parents of dyslexics whose seemingly bright children do so poorly in a classroom situation.
BBC Radio 4’s listen again feature is a gold mine of high quality programs. I discovered one from 2002 on the Mozart Effect which is well worth a listen. It looks at the research and theories behind the Mozart Effect and talks to the experts who have studied the music’s effect on a range of people.
At the Aberdare Boys School in South Wales, UK, a study found that "ten children with special educational needs were bombarded with sound by playing orchestral music (mainly Mozart) during normal learning activities. The resultant effect on their behaviour was remarkable."
In a study of epileptic’s, Mozart’s Sonata in D Major for Two Pianos (Mozart – Piano Sonata, K448. Schubert -…) Dr Hughes of University of Illinois Medical Center, Chicago, USA found that "In 23 of 29 instances significant decreases in epileptiform activity were noted…". Further work by Dr Hughes looked at the effect of other pieces of music found that Bach might also be effective.
The Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine has an article looking at some studies on the Mozart Effect. Wikipedia has generally negative article on the effect. A good round up of the evidence can be found here
See also Music and IQ