Tag Archive for 'therapy'

Block those bullies

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQp8N7P8zsU&hl
Language Warning!
Do not click play if the words n- – – – or
f- – – – offend you.

As the beginning of school approaches, many schools will be considering what to do about bullying, a problem the plagues many students with Learning Disabilities (LD). But, what do we know about the connections between special ed and bullying? Can bullying mess up a student’s IEP? Here’s a little background and some suggested resources.

As one might suspect, one of the difficulties for students with LD is that they are perceived as victims of bullies. Nabuzoka and Smith’s (1993) analysis of sociometric data from ~180 pre-adolescent students, about 20% of whom had LD, showed that those with LD were more likely to be victims of bullying than their non-disabled peers, despite not being judged more aggressive. Estell et al. (2009) reported that teachers considered fifth-grade students with high-incidence disabilities likely to be victims of bullies. However, both teachers and the students’ peers rated them to as likely to be bullies. Those students with disabilities who behaved aggressively were the ones who were more likely to be nominated as bullies.
Continue reading ‘Block those bullies’

LearningRx in the popular press

Sandy Hausman, Charlottesville (VA, US) reporter for WVTF (one of the local public radio stations available in my listening area), carried a story about LearningRx and Learning Disabilities this morning. Unlike the credible coverage provided by many reporters for popular-but-unproven therapies for LD and other disorders, Ms. Hausman provided a sensible and balanced story about LearningRx. Here’s the blurb from WVTF’s Web site

Americans spend millions of dollars keeping our bodies in shape. Now a Charlottesville man is offering a workout for the brain. His center–part of a nationwide franchise–promises to help children and adults improve their concentration, memory, reasoning, and other mental skills. Sandy Hausman has the story.

Unlike many reporters who too-often fall for pop-psych and pop-ed theories (as regularly noted in other posts here on LD Blog), Ms. Hausman gets many facts right (e.g., prevalence of LD), phrases her report carefully (describes LearningRx reports as “internal studies”), includes appropriate caveats along with personal-interest angles, and even incorporates alternative explanations from the experts she interviews.

This is an example of journalism done better. Listen to an MP3 of Ms. Hausman’s report and explore WVTF.org.

Canadian kid docs on chiropractic

Over on I Speak of Dreams, Liz Ditz posted an entry showing that the Canadian Pediatric Association understands the appropriate use of chiropractic procedures with children and youths. Jump to Liz’s post, read her entry, and follow her link to the statement: “Canadian Pediatric Society Position Statement: Chiropractic care for children: Controversies and issues.”

Remediation changes brain structures

Writing in the journal Neuron, Timothy Keller and Marcel Just reported that they have found changes in children’s neural anatomy that appear to be a consequence of improved reading performance. Whereas previous studies, many of which I’ve mentioned in these posts, have shown changes in the blood flow in children’s brains as a consequence of reading instruction, the findings from Keller and Marcel showed that there are changes in the physical tissue in the brain following remedial reading instruction.

Continue reading ‘Remediation changes brain structures’

Additional weak evidence about chiropractic treatment

Over the holiday weekend, Liz Ditz sent me the reference to a study that I have now downloaded and read. I’m reporting my notes here. I see that she has a related post over on her blog, I Speak of Dreams.

In “Developmental Delay Syndromes: Psychometric Testing Before and After Chiropractic Treatment of 157 Children,” Scott Cuthbert and Michel Barras present the results of an analysis of pretest-posttest scores for children who received chiropractic treatment at a clinic in Lausanne (CH). They reported that the children had higher scores after treatment, leading them to conclude that “This report suggests that a multimodal chiropractic method that assesses and treats motor dysfunction reduced symptoms and enhanced the cognitive performance in this group of children.”

Here is the abstract for this report. After it, I’ll explain why I find this study provides uncompelling evidence in support of chiropractic treatment for Learning Disabilities.
Continue reading ‘Additional weak evidence about chiropractic treatment’

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.

Think Aloud redux

Over on Twitter, friend of LD Blog Liz Ditz retweeted this:

RT @Includekidswdis: Stop, Think, Do a program by Lindy Petersen http://is.gd/1FQ0h which can really help children with #ADHD

I took a quick look and immediately remembered the work of Bonnie Camp and her colleagues (especially Mary Ann Bash) during the previous millennium. Dr. Camp and her group developed, researched, and refined methods for teaching children with learning and behavior problems, including attention deficit disorders, to manage their behavior. The Think Aloud program was at the forefront of the cog-mod mania that swept through child clinical psychology and special education in the 70s and 80s.

THINK ALOUD is a psychoeducational training progtam designed to enhance social and cognitive problem solving skills for increasing prosocial behavior and decreasing impulsivity. Much of the program content was chosen to correct cognitive deficits displayed by young aggressive boys. (1,2) Research on verbal mediation indicated that before internal controls could be established, many children needed first to establish effective control by verbalizing aloud then fading to a silent level. The Think Aloud Program was designed to teach children a problem solving process (including problem identificaton, generation of alternative solutions, predicting consequences and evaluating outcomes), how to verbalize aloud, how to apply this process in both cognitive and social situations, then move to silent direction and control of behavior. The original research with the program was conducted in two controlled trials and one refresher program with pairs of 6-8 year old boys rated as hyperaggressive by their teachers. (3,4,7,8,9,12) The manual for this program, along with details of research findings, is presented in Think Aloud: Small Group Program (11).

The numerals in the quote are footnotes (not surprisingly). They refer to only a few of the dozens of sources Dr. Camp provides.

Although it is a bit rough as a Web site, Dr. Camp has created an Internet site for Think Aloud. It features citations for those sources as well as some of the original materials. In addition, she has made some new materials for the program available as downloads.

Link to the Think Aloud site.

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″]

    Functional Disconnection Syndrome

    Here’s one for the faithful: “functional disconnection syndrome.” Let Dr. Kurt W. Kuhn, D.C. and Ph.D. explain:

    Functional Disconnection Syndrome is a condition where there is a functional breakdown in the neurological pathways of the body causing the brain and its neural net to function asynchronously, at a decreased frequency of firing or at a functional level that is below that required for higher cognitive and health requirements.

    A quick review of the medical literature will find the term “functional disconnections” used for all sorts of conditions that are the affect [sic] of neurological dysfunction. Symptoms ranging from behavioral and learning problems to pain and conditions of reduced general health. Functional disconnections can be caused by genetic, environmental, nutritional, stress, toxins, spinal subluxations and other causes.

    Just for grins, I took the challenge. I searched the health sciences databases available via EBSCO, the venerable information management system that says it works with 79,000 publishers. I found one citation referring to “Functional Disconnection Syndrome”; it was a case study describing a psychiatric problem of a 23-year-old woman (Simon, Walterfan, Petralli, & Velakoulis, 2008, Neuropsychobiology, 58).
    Continue reading ‘Functional Disconnection Syndrome’

    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.
    Continue reading ‘Irlen Kool-Aid consumed again’