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Does exercise therapy aid dyslexia/dyspraxia?

Q - A new exercise-based therapy for dyslexia/ dyspraxia that targets the cerebellum is claimed to be a breakthrough. Is it?

A - The field of specific learning difficulties ­ which includes dyslexia, dyspraxia and attention deficit disorder ­ is riddled with 'miracle cures' and 'breakthroughs'.

It is understandable that parents seek answers when the difficulties their children experience in school do not merit additional resources. Minor problems with language, motor co-ordination or attention are seldom a high priority in child development clinics either.

The Dyslexia Institute is open to new ideas, but as yet there is no evidence that the treatment offered by the Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Attention Disorder Centres has any specific benefit in terms of improving motor and cognitive skills. Theoretically, the exercise regimes would be of benefit to those whose learning difficulties are more dyspraxic. However, the kinds of exercises used are not revolutionary or unique to the DDAD Centres.

Responding to complaints of bias in the ITV Tonight programme's extensive feature on DDAD Centres, the Independent Television Commission ruled that the programme had made misleading claims for the revolutionary nature of their treatment and was in breach of the ITC code.

The Dyslexia Institute has just completed a three-year national research project to evaluate the effectiveness of specialist teaching and home learning programmes and has just published a DIY support pack, to provide parents with resources and strategies to support their children's learning of early reading skills. This will not be the answer for all those with dyslexia, but will provide a useful starting point and will also help parents and schools to work together. See

Dr John Rack is director of

research and assessment,

Dyslexia Institute, York

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