The Dore Achievement Centres / DDAT are very good at promoting themselves but their high visibility and impressive claims (e.g. a success rate of 90% or more) does open them up for negative stories to appear in the press. For example: Mother queries dyslexic ‘cure’ and here BBC Wales is specifically looking for people for whom the treatment hasn’t worked. A quick Google for personal experiences brings up a few hits (here, here and here).
I would like to gather a comprehensive collection of experiences of people who have been through some or all of the DDAT or any other program. So good or bad, please email your experience to Myomancy.com.
Professor Snowling and Professor Hulme of the Department of Psychology at York University in the UK, have published a scientific research article entitled “Lies, Damned Lies and (Inappropriate) Statistics?”. This article [Summary only] looks at the much publicised 2003 DDAT study. To quote from the article’s abstract “We outline the numerous methodological and statistical problems with this study and conclude that it provides no evidence that DDAT is an effective form of treatment for children with reading difficulties.”
The Sound Learning Centre is running a couple of open house days during the summer. Its “… an opportunity for anyone to visit the Centre, hear about our work and meet informally with our staff and some of our clients.” More details here.
The Dore Achievement Centres / DDAT proudly display on their web site the logos for the BBC and that of the ITVshow “This Morning”. These are not DDAT’s only appearance on TV. They have appeared on Channel 4‘s Richard & Judy show and they have run their own TV adverts. However both the TV advert and the spot on the Richard & Judy show have raised complaints from viewers that were upheld by the ITC / OfCom.
On the 1st May 2003 they appeared on Channel 4‘s Richard & Judy show. A viewer complained about DDAT’s claim that it was “a long-awaited and remarkable breakthrough” and that DDAT had “pioneered” the theoretical basis of the treatment. The ITC upheld the complaint but makes clear in its report that “the ITC does not express, nor does it seek to express, any view whatsoever on DDAT as an organisation or the relative efficacy of its treatment for dyslexia, neither of which was the subject of this finding.” This is almost an exact repeat of the complaints and judgment that the ITV show “Tonight with Trevor McDonald” receive in 2002 when covering DDAT. (Incidentally, it was the spot on the Tonight show where I first found out about the DDAT treatment which led to the successful treatment of my dyslexia).
The TV adverts that ran earlier this year ran foul of the the UK’s notoriously complicated advertising rules. Specifically “Rules .. (Evidence) and .. (Assessment of medical claims) … Rule .. (Impressions of professional advice and support). Doctors and other medical professionals are not permitted to appear in advertisements giving the impression of professional advice or recommendations.”. The full report is to be found on page 5 of this OfCom Bullitin [PDF]. UPDATE: The link is broken. See the second item down in this report.
UPDATE: DDAT have had similar problems in the USA where the treatment was featured on CBS’s news magazine program “60 Minutes II” (October 22nd, 2003). This generated a pointed response from the International Dyslexia Association
There was an unexpected but positive mention of the Tomatis Method on the tough police drama “The Shield” . Vik Mackey, one of the lead characters, has an autistic son who makes notable improvements thanks to a teacher who uses the Tomatis method. Its a very brief scene and unfortunately the message that comes across is that listening to classical music offers a quick and easy solution to autism but it at least raises awareness of Tomatis method. Overall autism is handled very well in “The Shield” with the problems of bringing up an autistic child, especially the emotional difficulties for the parents, being a regular background story line for the show. I suspect that someone involved with the show has some first hand experience of the problems.
Worth noting that Michael Chiklis who plays Vik Mackey helps with funds raising and publicity for the Cure Autism Now Organisation.
The Danks Davis method is a seven step programme that involves Brain Gym excercise and multi-sensory teaching of literacy skills with an emphasis on auditory perception problems. A book and video tape can be ordered from the website.
Private Eye magazine has a short piece in its ‘Street of Shame’ column about the Daily Telegraph‘s reporting on DDAT. As Private Eye doesn’t provide online access to its non-humor content I’ve reproduced in full below.
“SCHOOLCHILDREN suffering from dyslexia have seen dramatic improvements in their development thanks to a physical exercise programme designed to stimulate the brain… run by the Dore Achievement Centre in Kenilworth, called DDAT”, reported Nick Britten in the Daily Telegraph on 21 May.
“At the end of the study they were found to be free of dyslexia symptoms, no longer needed help in class, and could join mainstream lessons.”
Impressive. But perhaps Britten had himself had difficulty reading the words of the Telegraph’s education editor John Clare in his own paper just six days earlier, when Clare advised a parent to “waste no money on DDAT… Dore’s claim to have ‘found the answer to dyslexia and other learning difficulties’ is absurd.”
The two articles referred to are online: Nick Britten’s; John Clare’s. [Free registration required].
Given my history I disagree with John Clare’s advice and I encourage any parent of a dyslexic to investigate DDAT. It doesn’t work for everybody but for the many people it works for it profoundly changes their lives.
It is interesting to note that Duncan Goodhew, olympic gold medalist, motivation speaker, dyslexic and Vice-President of the Dyslexia Institute is a keen supporter of Brightstar‘s treatment programme. This is not surprising as Duncan Goodhew is, according to the last set accounts filed by Brightstar, a director of the company and has some 90,000 shares in the company. This financial interest is not mentioned as part of Mr Goodhew’s glowing endorsement for the product nor is it mentioned in any of the press coverage in which Duncan Goodhew features.
Brightstar‘s treatment system was tested by Nottingham University. Oddly this isn’t specifically mentioned on the Brightstar web site but it does get some coverage (more) on Epoch Innovations’, Brightstar’s Irish parent company, website.
One of the more ‘alternative’ dyslexia treatments is Kinesiology [Google Definition]. As a general treatment Kinesiolgy is not a specific dyslexia / ADHD etc treatment but is works on the basis that problems with the brain’s functions (intelligence, emotion, motor control) can be identified and treated by assessing how muscles in the body behave. This is not an irrational hypothesis. To take a very crude example, we all have experienced that under stress it is harder to learn and think clearly and when stressed our neck and shoulder muscles tighten.
Unfortunately Kinesiolgy scientific credibility suffers through its talk of ‘body meridians’ and ‘eastern medicine’ as well as the claims made for it being able to help with a huge range of physical and mental problems. However if you look past the hyperbole there is a core of truth to the approach and it has given rise to one of the most successful ‘movement for learning’ schemes, Brain Gym. Another Kinesiolgy education system is Learning Enhancement Advanced Programme (LEAP). This originated in Australia but there are practitioners in the UK. This article gives a good introduction to system. A more technical article is available here as a PDF file.