Tara Parker-Pope provided a brief overview of alternatives to medication in the treatment of ADHD in a column for the New York Times of 17 Jun 2008. Under the headline, “Weighing Nondrug Options for A.D.H.D.,” Ms. Parker-Pope briefly reviewed concerns about drugs and described several alternatives. In her discussion of St. John’s Wort, echinacea, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, and omega-3 fatty acids, Ms. Parker-Pope noted that alternative medical treatments are rarely used individually.
Link to Ms. Parker-Pope’s article. Thanks to Joel Mittler for alerting me to the article.
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.
Continue reading ‘Colored lenses yet again’
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.
Liz Ditz, about whose blog we’ve commented previously, posted about misrepresentations of dyslexia 29 August. Ms. Ditz expressed well-founded concern about a San Fransisco journalist who fell for fascile characterizations of dyslexia.
Nanette Asimov, the Chronicle education writer (who otherwise has good chops–she investigated Scientology’s worming its way into the SF school district) made two serious errors in a recent news article on special education:
In 2001, Juleus Chapman was a Fremont 8th-grader with “scotopic sensitivity syndrome” — a condition that makes words seem to swim across the page — and dyslexia, which causes letters to appear in reverse order.
In other words,
- She accepted a quack definition. “Scotopic sensitivity syndrome” exists only in the mind of the people who provide an expensive and useless fix
- She perpetuated two destructive myths about dyslexia: that it has to do with visual perception, and it has something to do with reversal of letters.
Ms. Ditz has got it right here. Learning Disabilities such as dyslexia are too often characterized in ways that are probably well-intentioned but are simply wrong. Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome (SSS), reversals, learning styles, and many other misrepresentations of LD are perpetuated by journalists and even educators. Peggy and I opined about a whole host of them in a recent editorial for TeachingLD.org.
I’m very glad Ms. Ditz devoted time to refuting these misrepresentations. Getting the general public and even some professionals concerned with individuals with LD to a attend to and employ effective practices is complicated by the perpetuation of myths such as SSS (and Irlen lenses, colored overlays, etc.) and strephosymbolia (reversals). I’m sending Ms. Ditz a note of thanks for her work.
Link to Ms. Ditz’s entry aptly entitled “Educating Education Writers,” a self-referential link to our previous post about Ms. Ditz’s blog, a link to our editorial on TLD, and a link to a page developed by some students in my class on characteristics of LD in the mid 1990s.
On National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, Ketzel Levine reported about a family that has opened a company to promote vision therapy. Although the angle for the story is “people reinventing themselves,” there is a pretty strong undertone endorsing vision therapy.
Last time I checked, those who advocated vision therapy as a means of helping people learn to read did not have a strong scientific base. Before I challenge the basis for this story, I have to go to the library and determine whether there is new evidence supporting it and overturning earlier evidence. For example, there is the possibility that the practices used in vision therapy have changed and those who employ these newer methods are, in fact, helping children, youth, and adults learn to read.
Even without formally reviewing the literature, I know that trustworthy sources such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, and American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), and American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus have issued policy statements dismissing optometric training for Learning Disabilities and including “Optometric vision training” in a list of “methods [that] have not been proven to work in scientific studies” for ADHD. Also, optometrists such a Russell Worrall have strongly criticized optometric training.
One thing that I’ll bet happens is that advocates will refer to individual cases where they can show success, claiming those successes as evidence. For those of us who say “hooray for the patient,” but are not willing to accept anecdotal evidence as providing a scientific base for a practice, this will be yet another challenge. It is very difficult to get people to put aside personal experience in deference to strong research, a point that—ironically—was made 2 August in an NPR story by Allison Aubrey on dietary supplements.