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.