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A fast sell for dyslexia

THE television newsman famous for his "bong" has unleashed a furious row over treatments for dyslexia that will shortly arrive in Scotland. Trevor McDonald's report last month about a "miracle cure" has given the DDAT centre in Warwickshire about as much free publicity as it could imagine in the cause of revelation journalism. Within six weeks it will open a base in Glasgow, just one of many centres set to open across Britain on the back of the programme. It will spark a rush but this is before any substantial and independent research verifies the methods used by DDAT.

We have been here before in miracle cures for dealing with special educational needs. The publicity for the the Peto Institute in Hungary which worked on improving the skills of children with cerebral palsy spawned national interest and the Craighalbert Centre in Cumbernauld after Michael Forsyth backed the cause. At one time or another, there have been holy grails for most conditions. Some are lasting, others less so. Some are adapted and slip into the mainstream.

It appears the DDAT approach is making a fast buck out of emerging practice that does indeed have a basis in British and world research. There might be nothing wrong with that if many children and parents believe the treatment has made a difference. Whether it applies to all conditions along the dyslexic spectrum is quite another matter. There are well qualified people prepared to dispute the rampantly commercial DDAT approach, as we show in our news and letters pages.

Equally, many have an open mind, even if they are sceptical about the impact on parental purses. Scottish teachers have established procedures for improving the skills of dyslexic pupils. The latest theories on the effects of movement and balance on the cerebellum may challenge those methods.

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