Controversial Therapy (Dore Program) Lacks Research Basis

April 7, 2007

The International Dyslexia Association (IDA), the nation’s oldest learning disabilities organization, has profound concerns regarding the recent segment of “60 Minutes II” on dyslexia (Wednesday, October 22).

The method of treatment or intervention promoted by Mr. Dore (repetitive physical activity, balancing exercises, etc.) is predicated on research that has been questioned by many neuroscientists (Zeffiro, Eden, Ivry, Justus, Snowling, Hulme, Singleton, and Stuart). Unfortunately, that reality was not shared with the viewing audience. Several studies from well-respected research institutions (Harvard, Yale, Georgetown, etc.) indicate that the dyslexic brain functions differently than the non-dyslexic brain. While there is growing acceptance that the cerebellum may play a greater role than previously thought in higher-level cognitive processes, there is surely no consensus in the scientific community that an intervention for dyslexia may yet be credibly based on cerebellar theories. It is IDA’s position that interventions such as Mr. Dore’s are simply not supported by current knowledge.

While we are pleased to learn that the reading skills of the two empathetic people we met in the segment apparently improved over a nine-month period, it may be an extreme leap of logic to assume the Dore treatment was solely responsible. Good research is designed to control variables so the impact of each factor can be determined. The segment did not tell the viewer about educational interventions either person may have received while undergoing the Dore treatment. It is IDA’s position that the best intervention for people with dyslexia is reading instruction that is systematic, sequential, and phonetically based. We know that no single teaching approach will work for all individuals, yet we do have ample evidence from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Reading Panel, and the National Research Council that tells us the components of effective reading instruction.

Finally, IDA is deeply troubled by the cost factors involved. And by cost, we are not focusing on the expense of treatment. While we feel the cost of the Dore treatment is exceptional, considering its questionable validity, we are far more concerned about the human cost. Current research tells us that early and appropriate intervention is our best weapon to ameliorate dyslexia’s impact on a person’s life. Too often parents will grasp at anything in a desperate effort to help their children. It is IDA’s position that any delay in the delivery of effective educational intervention diminishes the potential for successful outcomes. There are too many talented and hard working people with dyslexia in this and other countries to write them off with unsubstantiated programs or teaching methods.

This page was posted on April 7, 2007.