Another famous dyslexic has popped up talking about how the Dore treatment programme has helped them. A few months ago it was the rugby player Kenny Logan. Now its 80’s singer and 90’s teletubby Toyah Wilcox. It suspicious that two public figures have spoken up for the programme recently. Is this a new, subtler form of marketting or is it simply that like myself, Dore has change their lives and they want to tell people about it?
Daily Mail (London)
December 27, 2005 Tuesday
HOW I BROKE FREE;
As a successful singer and actress Toyah had to learn many lines. But secretly, she was battling dyslexia and it was ruining her life. In an inspirational interview, she reveals how pioneering exercises freed her from misery
POP star and TV presenter Toyah Willcox, 47, suffered humiliation and deep depression because of her severe dyslexia and learning difficulties.
Then a revolutionary treatment changed her life. Here, Toyah who is married to musician Robert Fripp but has no children, tells LISA SEWARDS her compelling story. . .
WHEN I was a child, I was acutely aware that I didn’t fit in. I still felt the same as an adult. I couldn’t spell, found reading incredibly hard and was very bad at learning anything.
I remember filming Quadrophenia in 1979 with Sting, and he was teaching me how to sing the backing vocals to The Police hit Roxanne.
They were simple and famous harmonies, but I couldn’t visualise the music or hear the rhythm.
So I ended up smashing furniture around the room and banging my fist down on tables, saying: ‘Sting, I will never learn it. I can’t learn in the normal way.’ He didn’t know I was dyslexic. Nor did I admit it.
Back then dyslexia was never talked about. In fact, I now realise that many very bright people, some really high achievers, have lived with these problems throughout their life without ever realising what’s caused it.
At the time, David Bowie was using the ‘cut up’ method to write lyrics. He took sentences, chopped them up, muddled them up and put them back together again. I actually thought and spoke like that, and when I used to try to say something, it would come out in a similar jumble.
Because I couldn’t spell or read, I had a poor vocabulary. If I spoke, people would laugh. To make matters worse, I also had a lisp.
At school I was left alone by the teachers because I was slow at reading, writing and maths.
The girls with sparkling repartee were the ones who were always listened to. In my head I had equal ideas, but they just didn’t come out of my mouth.
In conversations I struggled to convey my thoughts and went off on tangents.
SO AT school, I’m embarrassed to admit, I became the bully; the disruptive pupil who wasted the money my father spent on my private education by staring out of the window. I couldn’t read a book – it was just a blur of lines. My parents didn’t know I was dyslexic. They probably just thought I was lazy.
I developed my own coping strategies, even inventing my own ways of spelling and reading. I learnt stock phrases for interviews and auditions.
Because I couldn’t rely on total spontaneity, I’d rehearse a conversation, such as mentioning a newspaper heading and saying ‘Isn’t this story fascinating?’ to pretend I’d read it.
But my life changed beyond recognition in November 2003 following a revolutionary treatment called The Dore Programme, which I believe has virtually cured my dyslexia. I’ve been so bowled over by it that I’m now a spokesperson for the treatment.
The Dore Programme shows you that you are one of millions in the same boat – regardless of how successful or otherwise you are. It can help not just those suffering from dyslexia, but also from dyspraxia, a condition in which a child is born with severe co-ordination problems.
This can mean they have difficulty doing basic things such as holding a pencil properly or doing up their shoelaces, or have attention deficit disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, poor sporting ability and clumsiness.
According to The Dore Programme, these problems all have the same root cause: an underdeveloped cerebellum.
This is the tangerine-sized part of the brain at the base of the skull which processes information, governs balance and makes it automatic for us to carry out actions such as following a line of text. If it is not working well, it can also affect short-term memory.
The system was pioneered by Wynford Dore, a Coventry businessman who decided to find a cure for the condition after his daughter, Susie, tried to kill herself because of it.
He poured millions of his own money into finding a solution. Research from a number of medical experts convinced him that the cerebellum must be stimulated by physical exercises to function to full capacity.
The treatment involves a number of exercises designed to stimulate different parts of the brain with different combinations of balance, eye movement, hand movement, leg movement and so on to unlock the neural pathways that connect the cerebellum to other parts of the brain.
Once the brain rewiring has been done, it’s permanent and you don’t get any regression.
Exercises include walking downstairs backwards with your eyes closed, throwing a bean bag from one hand to the other and standing on a wobble board or a ball.
It’s basically a gym workout for the brain, which enables learning to take place. It isn’t a substitute for good teaching, but enables you to learn and recall information automatically. Susie, Mr Dore’s daughter, has now completely recovered.
To take part, you go to one of the Dore Achievement Centre’s ten UK sites – the first opened in 1999 – to be assessed.
The tests are fun, not threatening, and involve analysing how the brain reacts to different stimuli. One test involves a machine that finds what strategy your body uses for balancing.
Its purpose is to single out the effectiveness of a person’s senses. If one is not functioning properly, it can seriously impede co-ordination.
The body uses three things to balance: the inner ear (the vestibular); feelings from joints, muscles and bones; and the brain, to which these feelings are transmitted.
But the striking thing about most people with learning difficulties such as dyslexia is that their brain hardly uses any information from the vestibular.
Another test looks at what happens to your eyes when you’re trying to track a moving light. The cerebellum is known to control some eye movements directly related to reading and writing.
The eyes of more than 90 per cent of people with learning difficulties are uncoordinated. So when they’re trying to read, the information is absorbed in a scrambled way.
Equally, when they try to write, their hands don’t follow an automatic pattern, because they have little memory recall of how each letter is formed and it becomes hard to develop a consistent handwriting style.
The programme also gives you a dyslexia screening test for spelling, reading, writing and memory, as well as neurological tests to make sure that there is no other reason, apart from the underdevelopment of the cerebellum, that is causing the problems.
The first assessment takes about three hours and the second, six weeks later, about an hour-and-a-half. You are reassessed every six weeks until your cerebellum is working to full capacity, which usually takes up to two years.
At the end of each testing session, the computer works out the best exercises for each individual and in which order to kick-start their neural pathways.
YOU’RE then allocated two exercises every day in a carefully prescribed order. These are simple and can be done at home in about five minutes.
I started with some basic exercises such as spinning in a circle and then trying to sit on a big gym ball. If I had tried to spin around three years ago, I would have been sick – apparently, many dyslexics and dyspraxics suffer from travel sickness, a sign that the cerebellum isn’t working as it should.
I did my exercises religiously for three months, twice a day. The effects were immediate. My life improved within a week of starting the exercises and suddenly the dam wall started to come down.
I have hardly stopped writing since the exercises began to take effect, which is incredible considering writing was once the bane of my life, and my spelling has improved dramatically.
Now I feel my life is speeding up. In the past, I’d have days of being completely frozen in a creative mental block and unable to do anything. My dyslexia had a terrible effect on my songwriting. If I had creative moments, they lasted only an hour, Now the prison door is unlocked, I feel I can work whenever I need to.
Even though I still have certain blocks on names and certain words I can’t understand or spell, I no longer get cross. In the past the majority of my energy went on being frustrated.
Now I have learned that this is a wasted emotion. Crucially, my social skills have improved beyond belief.
I used to be lonely socially and felt everyone hated me. But within three weeks of starting the treatment I became immediately confident and now feel able to go up and talk to anyone. My verbal memory recall has been transformed and I can hold conversations without going off at tangents.
I’d always fly off the handle because I couldn’t communicate my ideas well enough. That’s gone now. My vocabulary is broadening every day.
Whereas I’d read a book a year, I now read a book a week – I’m getting through all the bestsellers – which I find staggering.
I now manage my own finances and spend four hours a day just on managing my investments – several years ago I would not have even tried to read numbers.
I no longer have black days filled with the frustration of not being able to read or write. I’ve learnt that, because I’m dyslexic, I have a smaller amount of working memory, so if I had a negative thought, I didn’t have so much brain space to bring in compensatory thoughts to rationalise it.
Just remembering lists was a problem, so I was getting very frustrated, angry and depressed.
My husband, guitarist Robert Fripp, cannot believe the transformation.
The Dore Programme is not a quick fix, because it takes dedication. However, the course made me instantly happy because I’ve got the stepping stones to a better life.
The system is also being used by many sportsmen, such as Scotland rugby star Kenny Logan. It is thought to be particularly helpful for sports involving hand-eye co-ordination such as football, rugby and cricket, as it can dramatically improve players’ awareness of the ball as well as their awareness of other players on the pitch.
Mr Dore plans eventually to help big-business executives improve their memory and motivational skills and is even researching balance and memory problems in old people, including reducing the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
For me, it has opened a prison door I thought was locked for ever.
THE revolutionary Dore Programme is the result of Wynford Dore’s desire to find a cure for his daughter Susie, who tried to take her own life because of her dyslexia.
In devising the programme, the millionaire businessman from Coventry followed his instinct that the root of the problem was physical, rather than educational.
Inspired by a book about learning difficulties, he hired an educational psychologist, a GP and flew in the book’s author, a New York psychiatrist, for the research – in his garage.
Technology that was first used by astronauts, who suffer a form of temporary dyslexia in space, was used to develop the Dore Programme of exercises.
Research is continuing and the University of Oxford and University of London this year supported his conclusions.
In one study at Balsall Common School in Coventry, the reading abilities of the 40 pupils who had the treatment improved by 300 per cent.
‘My aim is for this to be available on the NHS so we can tackle problems before they develop into a crisis like with my daughter,’ says Mr Dore.