Tag Archive for 'bologna'

Willingham making sense of brain research

In what will be his last guest column for the Washington Post education column, “The Answer Sheet,” cognitive psychologist Dan Willingham advises people to be skeptical about the poppycock that masquerades as scientific advice about brain-based education. Under the headline “Willingham: 3 brain facts every educator should know,” Professor Willingham explains clearly and with the force of evidence and plain, ordinary reason why “most of what you see advertised as educational advice rooted in neuroscience is bunkum.”

Professor Willingham contends that there are three facts educators should know.
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K. Ellison again

For those who haven’t been paying attention, Katherine Ellison has appeared on multiple media outlets promoting her book, Buzz. She had another entry, this time in the Washington Post yesterday (20 November 2010). Given the recent release of the US Centers for Disease Control prevalence study, this is pretty timely and, award-winning journalist that she is, Ms. Ellison notes the connection in her lead.

As the mother of a teenager who got a diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in 2004, I wasn’t surprised to read the new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that said the number of ADHD cases in children jumped by 22 percent between 2003 and 2007 – an increase of 1 million kids.

But, she goes on to add lots more good content to her op-ed piece published under the headline “Doing battle with the ADHD-industrial complex.”
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A little sugar with your behavior?

Just as I did on EBD Blog, I’m encouraging folks to read Dan Willingham’s blog entry for the Washington Post regarding the persistent myth that sugar causes children to act hyper. Jump right on over to Dan’s post to read his full deflation of this popular balloon, then you can go back and catch my antique take down on the same topic at “Sugar High?

AAP and AAO on vision therapy


Interview with: Walter M. Fierson, MD,
Chair of Learning Disabilities Subcommittee
of Ophthalmology Section, American Academy
of Pediatrics

In “Groups Assail Vision Therapy as Remedy for Learning Disabilities,” Crystal Phend of MedPage Today reported that the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Ophthalmology jointly issued a statement calling the use of well-known vision therapies unfounded and ineffective.

SAN FRANCISCO, July 27 — Behavioral vision therapy, eye exercises, and colored lenses have no role in treatment of dyslexia and other learning disabilities, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The academy came down hard on these “scientifically unsupported” alternative treatments in a joint statement with the American Academy of Ophthalmology and other vision organizations.

The AAP, which has published many valuable statements about Learning Disabilities in the past, made unequivocal statements about the problems with these therapies. In the accompanying audio clip, Dr. Walter Frierson provides good explanation of the rationale for the recommendations.

Learning disabilities, including reading disabilities, are commonly diagnosed in children. Their etiologies are multifactorial, reflecting genetic influences and dysfunction of brain systems. Learning disabilities are complex problems that require complex solutions. Early recognition and referral to qualified educational professionals for evidence-based evaluations and treatments seem necessary to achieve the best possible outcome. Most experts believe that dyslexia is a language-based disorder. Vision problems can interfere with the process of learning; however, vision problems are not the cause of primary dyslexia or learning disabilities. Scientific evidence does not support the efficacy of eye exercises, behavioral vision therapy, or special tinted filters or lenses for improving the long-term educational performance in these complex pediatric neurocognitive conditions. Diagnostic and treatment approaches that lack scientific evidence of efficacy, including eye exercises, behavioral vision therapy, or special tinted filters or lenses, are not endorsed and should not be recommended.

Pediatrics 2009;124:837–844

Faithful readers of LD Blog will remember that there have been perhaps a half-dozen posts here on the mistaken (at best) therapies promoted to families of individuals with Learning Disabilities. It is valuable to have prestigious organizations such as the AAP and AAO issue statements that support the observations presented here.

Teachers, psychologists, and school administrators: Please advise the parents of your students with reading problems not to waste time and money on colored lenses, eye tracking and eye teaming, and other similar therapies.

Read Ms. Phend’s report. Download the full statement by the AAP. Visit the AAP Web site, especially its section on Learning Disabilities.

About on Irlen

Whoever writes the section of About on Learning Disabilities provides support for Irlen Syndrome. Although there are two sentences expressing reservation and it doesn’t flatly commend the idea, there are 100s of words describing it and making fact-like statements such as “It often runs in families and typically goes mis-diagnosed as a learning disability or dyslexia.”

Here are the two disclaiming statements:

  • “Research in this area, however, is quite limited.”
  • “It is important to note that Irlen syndrome and visual treatments are unproven and not recognized by the major academic Pediatric Organizations in the US(AAP, AOA, and AAO.)”
  • At least there are those two sentence. Still, why report all the other stuff uncritically? But, perhaps I’m misreading the entry or over-reacting. I invite readers to check it (link to the entry) and then vote in this poll.

    [poll id="7"]

    LD and chiropracty–NOT

    Chiropractors are likely to complain about the treatment that their methods receive in posts on this blog. I’ve posted recently that I find wanting the bases for the the (currently-on-tour, see-‘em-in-your-neighborhood-soon) Brain Balance Music program. This post will be even more alarming to supporters of those sorts of treatments for LD.

    The fundamental problem with the therapies for Learning Disabilities recommended by some chiropractors is that those therapies are bogus. They may be advocated by people who honestly believe that they’re recommending helpful stuff. The hypothetical relations among the neurological and behavioral factors may sound sensible, but that is, in large part, because we’re listening to the words rather than the facts. The folks may have seen what they believe are legitimate improvements in children’s academic and social behavior after the children received the therapy. Parents may have told them how much better the children seem.

    None of that counts as scientific (i.e., objective, generalizable, refutable) evidence of benefits. The advocates may be as seriously misled as they mislead their potential clients. They just don’t have the data. Their explanations are post hoc and untested, at best.

    In addition to the probably benign Brain Balance Music methods, consider one of the other chiropractic therapies: Cranio-sacral therapy: The hypothesis is that something about the connection between the child’s head and tail causes learning problems (even mental retardation and autism!) and it can be corrected by chiropractic manipulations.

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    Irlen Kool-Aid consumed again

    Yet another reporter has covered the benefits of providing colored lenses or overlays for improving reading performance. Based on subjective reports from a child and her father, Morgan Bond of television station KPVI in Pocatello (ID, US) described Irlen’s Syndrome as the cause and blue-tinted glasses as the solution to Noel Chapman’s reading problems.
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    NLP bunk

    When confronted with Don A. Blackerby, whose Web site says he’s “recognized as the foremost Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) authority on Learning Disabilities, including Attention Deficit Disorder”; Shannon Sumrall of Advanced Behavioral Consultants who wrote “Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Education“; and Gordon Dryden and Jeannette Vos, who have a book called The Learning Revolution that incorporates NLP to fix just about anything, it is a pleasure to know that there are sensible folks like Steven Novella in the neighborhood. Dr. Novella, who’s an academic neurologist at Yale and a principal element in the New England Skeptics Society, published a sensible commentary on NLP that I strongly encourage readers to review. He goes well beyond debunking the woo (did I spell that correctly, Liz?) and discusses why NLP persists and what it will take to make the world safe from such nonsense.

    This is not an April Fools’ Day post.

    Colored lenses yet again

    In a post entitled “Relief in sight for Micheala’s reading disorder,” Jayne Hulbert of the Taranaki (NZ) Daily News describes the case of a child who has been diagnosed as having Irlen Syndrome and is helped by viewing text through colored overlays. It’s the usual….

    Micheala Kennard can’t wait to be looking at the world through her orange-tinted glasses.

    But for now the Ohawe 11-year-old is making do with a coloured plastic overlay she puts on top whatever she’s reading. The tinted plastic stops words from moving around the page.

    Micheala has a visual processing disorder called Irlen syndrome which means when she reads, words jumble and move around.

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    3D bologna

    A Web site selling “help for smart kids struggling with reading and dyslexia” promises “Before you leave this site, you will discover the answers your child needs to be a successful reader.” Mira and Mark Halpert claim that “Gifted students Operating with a Learning Disability” are actually right-brained learners who think in pictures. On every page that I examined at the extensive Web site, they ask parents to complete this checklist and send it to them.

    My child is able to remember things that happened long ago.

    Once my child visits a place, they will remember it in detail.

    My child has a difficult time following directions

    My child has a difficult time copying material from the chalk/white board.

    My child has a difficult time paying attention in the classroom.

    When my child is interested in something they can focus on it for a long time.

    My child is behind in reading

    They recommend teaching sight words, seeing developmental optometrists, and lots of other nonsense. As evidence they offer testimonials. They do not refer to scholarly literature.

    With so much bologna, all one needs is a couple of slices of bread and some mayonaise…. I hesitate to provide publicity for the site by linking to it, but it’s a good idea to let people see what’s being marketed to the unsuspecting.