More research needed for dyslexia miracle cure

The ITV Tonight with Trevor McDonald programme which last month presented a "new miracle cure" for dyslexia gave the impression that the work of the DDAT centre in Kenilworth was a new approach which offers hope to thousands of dyslexia sufferers.

The centre has been using exercises aimed at improving the functioning of the cerebellum, a part of the brain invol-ved in regulating control of balance and co-ordination.

The "cerebellar theory" is not new. Our own findings at Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psycho-logy suggest that cerebellar problems are involved in some children diagnosed with dyslexia.

A greater proportion have a combination of vestibular and cerebellar related problems, but it cannot be said that either of these are involved in all cases of dyslexia.

Some children respond ex-tremely well to physically based programmes but, in our experience, these programmes need to be carried out over a relatively long period of time to be successful.

In many cases, even after the basic physical problems have been resolved, they continue to need specialist teaching for some time afterwards to bridge the gap that has developed in the early learning years.

The use of exercises to address problems of balance also has a long history. Sheila Dobie in Edinburgh has devised a system of exercises for improving left-right integration in children and adults who have poorly developed co-ordination and related learning difficulties.

To present the findings of the DDAT centre as a "miracle" is to discount the many other factors that can be involved in dyslexia which require different remedial approaches.

What this controversy has brought to light is the gaping need for some sort of independent cohesive body to co-ordinate the pleth-ora of research that is available into the whole area of special needs.

Much of the research into the causes of specific learning difficulties concentrates on neurological and developmental factors and is often published in obscure scientific journals.

There exists a wealth of relevant screening tests, diagnostic procedures and methods of intervention to help children with specific learning difficulties, but many of these tests never reach the professional bodies that are dealing with children on a daily basis.

These children simply fall between different professional boundaries and it is often left to the parents to seek out the most relevant help for their child.

Sally Goddard Blythe

Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology (INPP)

Stanley Place, Chester

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you