The blog post linked to below talks about Dr. Charles Parker, psychiatrist and ADHD expert. I have spoken with Dr. Parker on a couple of occasions and he was quite gracious in looking at our program. He was helpful, open minded and great to listen to as I was getting more involved in the science behind brain fitness topics. As will many psychiatrists with expansive minds and reading lists, he was never closed minded in his approach to LBP even though he never decided "take it on" or make it more central to his studies. I recall spending a great deal of time learning about SPEC imaging and other empirical methods based on reading from his blog and last year got to enjoy his presentation to the Virtual ADHD conference. Nice article and best wishes to Dr. Parker. Thanks to Moms With ADD/ADHD site for the posting.
If you’re the parent of a child who’s having trouble learning or behaving in school, you quickly find yourself confronted with a series of difficult choices.
You can do nothing — and watch your child flounder while teachers register their disapproval. Or you can get help, which generally means, first, an expensive and time-consuming evaluation, then more visits with more specialists, intensive tutoring, therapies, perhaps, or, as is often the case with attention issues, drugs.
For many parents — particularly the sorts of parents who are skeptical of mainstream medicine and of the intentions of what one mother once described to me as “the learning-disability industrial complex” — this experience is an exercise in frustration and alienation.
The rest of the article describes some areas of similarity with LBP because of the program's substantial amount of vision-related activities. The balance and vestibular issues so critical to LBP are not described, but the hurdles that parents face and the ways that treatments are presented to parents, the pressures, etc. will be very strongly identified with by those who have had to walk that road.
A Big Hello to the Learning Breakthrough Blog Readers, I am delighted to have been asked to do my first guest blog post for Learning Breakthrough Program. Learning Breakthrough is one of the alternative therapy programs that I use and recommend to clients in my Hallowell Centers and also to my readers across the world. Clients continue to ask about the program, and the ones who have stayed in the program for an extended period of time have reported positive results.
I am asked regularly about my association with certain "alternative" approaches to learning disabilities. I was recently talking about vision therapy with a New York Times reporter who was asking me about skepticism observed in the medical profession regarding the topic. I told her I believe it is important to keep an open mind when it comes to alternative treatments. Most of these programs do not have the funds to undertake the multi-million dollar prospective studies that are needed to conclusively test these programs. Nonetheless, many of them, like Learning Breakthrough, have merit and have helped people a great deal.
I offer Learning Breakthrough in my offices as a powerful, approachable and inexpensive treatment that complements our other therapies wonderfully. I have found it valuable for clients with ADHD as well as dyslexia and other learning differences. It is not purely vision therapy, but rather an "integrative therapy" that makes use of several different brain systems. It is designed to get the brain working as an efficient, tight-knit system. Many of the clients who have completed the program have reported such improvements as a reduced or eliminated need for medication; better academic performance; increased organization skills; and heightened executive functioning. I hope you will read into the detailed background information posted on the Learning Breakthrough website to get a better feel for what I’m talking about.
With respect to vision therapy, I told the reporter I believe there is something to it. What the "something" is - is up for grabs, but we are learning more and more about how the vestibular system, visual system and auditory system can all be made to work better together and improve the treatment of attention deficit, dyslexia and other learning differences. My own son's reading problem was helped by his doing vision and vestibular exercises based on the same methods Learning Breakthrough uses which is how I came to gain an appreciation for this particular “alternative” treatment. This is not hocus-pocus. The fact that medication is the best researched intervention is due to the fact that the drug companies are the only groups with enough money to fund such expensive research. I referred the reporter, and I would refer you, to the work of Dr. Mel Kaplan, an optometrist in Tarrytown, NY who is, in my estimation, a genius and a true innovator in the field.
But note, developmental optometrists are not the only professionals that understand and apply Learning Breakthrough’s ideas. Occupational therapists, physical and speech therapists, audiologists, education specialists, and physicians have all seen client improvements along the lines of those that I’ve seen.
I tell my patients that I want to use whatever works, as long as it is safe and legal. If we wait for a New England Journal of Medicine article to report on the validation of every treatment, we'll be waiting a long time. To me, the integrative approach--making use of all the possible tools I have in the toolbox--is the best way to go.
All the best, Ned Hallowell
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MARRIED TO DISTRACTION
Announcing the publication of Dr. Hallowell's new book, Married to Distraction: Restoring Intimacy and Strengthening Your Marriage in an Age of Interruption. See a preview now! It hits the bookstores March 16, and is available to be ordered on Amazon and other online stores now.
Dyslexia in children and adults is often addressed according to two models, each of which generally focus on linguistic or language-related skills. “These methods emphasize strategy and cognitive development and are not based on a brain processing relationship, which is dysfunctional in dyslexia. Consequently, these techniques have not produced consistent reading improvement.” (Goldstein, 2001) Goldstein’s assessments still ring true today. Even so, many dyslexia treatment options tout an emphasis on “teaching” those with dyslexia words in a clearer way as if other reading educational efforts have somehow failed. The problem is, of course, that dyslexia is not necessarily a letter recognition problem, it is instead a cognitive processing problem. This means that dyslexia treatments based on language skills alone often fail.
One of the most common misconceptions about reading skills and acquisition of reading ability is that reading involves only a simple recognition of letters and subsequent knowledge of how to phonologically string those letters together into words. According to this simplistic model of reading, someone with dyslexia is simply not “seeing” the letters correctly, thus there is a perceived deficit in vision or sight. Although visual cues often play a role in the formation of dyslexia treatments, sight alone is only the tip of a very large iceberg. After all, when we see a sequence of letters, it has no meaning as an object until our brain, working as an integrated network of sensory systems, assigns significance to the abstract grouping of letters. Visual processing disorders, which are NOT related to the ability to see clearly, involve difficulties understanding visual information such as movement, spatial relationships, form, or direction. Such visual processing challenges, together with Central Auditory Processing problems, are frequently found in combination and result in a formal dyslexia diagnosis or poor academic performance.
However, the process is far more complicated on a cognitive level--mere recognition of words and sounds is only the first part in a long series of events that occur quickly and unconsciously in those without dyslexia but this process is “sidetracked” as the two hemispheres of the brain react differently than they would in non-dyslexic readers. Therefore, one of the fundamental flaws of traditional dyslexia treatment is that there is a heavy focus on teaching the words themselves while overlooking the fact that the problem lies in brain’s processing of letters as opposed to some kind of simple lack of understanding of letters, words and phonology.
A great deal of contemporary research focuses on the issue of brain processing in dyslexia treatment with multiple studies examining the delay or miscommunication between the left and right hemisphere of the brain, or problems with specific areas of the brain, including “planum temporal symmetry or angular gyrus dysfunction, that result in reading impairments and do not suggest developmental hemispheric changes as a rationale for dyslexia” (Goldstein 2001). While the results of these imaging-based studies continue to change our view of the cognitive and brain processing end of dyslexia treatment, one thing is clear—simply focusing on “teaching” those with dyslexia the letters or word sounds in a more focused way is simply inadequate. If the basic brain processes that govern the abstract meaning behind words and letters are not improved, then all of the phonics and letter training in the world will likely not solve the challenges that dyslexic readers face.
Goldstein, B., & Obrzut, J. (2001). Neuropsychological Treatment of Dyslexia in the Classroom Setting. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 34(3), 276.
a disconnection between the center of the brain that allocates attention and the visual processing regions...
One of the core strengths and objectives of Learning Breakthrough is exactly the type of efficient brain integration (from "center of the brain" to visual processing and other sensory areas as well) that is being demonstrated as relevant and missing in certain ADHD clients. Great food for thought and insight into neural activity weaknesses that point to possible treatment approaches.
The second article comes from professors of Hearing and Speech Sciences at Vanderbilt's Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development. It describes a grant from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders for the study of Sensory Integration Therapy (SIT). The point is to investigate why, as the article states:
Children with autism have difficulty taking in and integrating sensory information from the outside world, particularly auditory information. The suppression or misinterpretation of auditory information can prevent the development of language.
Both of these are interesting and we look forward to hearing more about their progress.