July 04, 2013Q. I’ve noticed some on-line advertisements claiming dyslexia is a vision problem and can be treated with a special pair of glasses. Is there anything to this?
A. Generations ago, one theory about the nature of dyslexia was that it had something to do with vision. However, science has debunked that as hokum. Researchers at Yale and elsewhere have done functional brain scans, comparing a dyslexic brain with an ordinary brain.
They have concluded the dyslexic’s brain is wired differently, causing difficulty in processing letters and sounds — reading and spelling. The science-based strategy of multi sensory instruction with constant review and building on basics has proven over time to address these issues.
I should add that dyslexia has nothing to do with intelligence. In fact, the very structure that causes language problems is the same structure that gives the dyslexic big picture, out of the box creativity. Hence, some of the greatest minds in history have been dyslexic. (Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford to name but a few.) For more information, visit dyslex
Q. There are a variety of products claiming to “fix” dyslexia. Without exception, they all are expensive. How do you know what works and what is just a cruel hoax and rip off?
A. First, dyslexia isn’t a condition that can be “fixed” or disappears with age and education. So I wouldn’t trust any product claiming to cure it. Dyslexia is a genetic, neurological, lifelong condition. With appropriate instruction, dyslexics can acquire the strategies to become academically successful, but reading for them will never become easy, fast and pleasurable.
Second, protect yourself by discounting testimonials and by researching every claim.
For example, one company states it has FDA-clearance to sell eye-glasses to treat dyslexia. Checking further, the FDA cleared the product for nearsightedness, astigmatism and color blindness. Nothing there about dyslexia, which is not a vision problem.
Third, consider the source.
Who is more believable? A top university study published in the American Medical Journal? Or some unsubstantiated claims by unknown individuals looking to make money?
Finally, learn the criteria for effective instruction and evaluate a product that way. For example, many entrepreneurs have taken the principles of phonics, repackaged them and now market them as online lessons for dyslexics.
The problem: the canned programs are not multi sensory, and they are not live, one-on-one customized instruction that is diagnostic and prescriptive.
Grosse Pointer Laciura is an instructor at the non-profit Michigan Dyslexia Institute and a member of MDI’s Detroit Metro Center’s advisory panel. As a member of The Family Center’s Association of Professionals, she offers dyslexia remediation. Call her at (313) 885-0576. For more information, visit Michigan Dyslexia Institute atdyslexia.net, or call (248) 658-0777.
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Correction: Richard Swanson was misidentified in the June 27 issue. He is the past president of the American Veterinary Medical Association.