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Monday, 21 January, 2002, 18:06 GMT
'Spacemen' exercises help dyslexics
Dyslexic woman tossing bean bags
The hand-eye co-ordination exercises are simple to do
Balance and hand-eye co-ordination exercises, similar to those used by astronauts, are helping some people with dyslexia, according to an independent study.

The new treatment, developed at the Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Attention Disorder (DDAT) centre in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, stimulates the cerebellum, the co-ordination centre of the brain.

The simple exercises use beanbags and balancing equipment to produce better concentration and memory skills.

The improvements were measured over a six-month period during an independent research study by Exeter University Professor David Reynolds, the former chairman of the government's national numeracy taskforce.

Millionaire businessman

He examined the treatment devised by the DDAT centre and said its potential was "absolutely phenomenal".

Mr Reynolds said: "With 15% of all school children estimated to have some form of dyslexia, treatment of this issue has worldwide implications."

Lindsay Peer, of the British Dyslexia Association, said the results were "interesting," but added it remained to be seen whether the improvements were maintained.

Wynford Dore
Wynford Dore helped establish the centre

She said a longer study of several years was needed to prove "one way or the other" the success of the programme.

The centre was created by millionaire businessman Wynford Dore, whose daughter Susie suffered from such acute dyslexia that she attempted suicide three times.

Mr Dore said: "Many children struggle at school with learning difficulties and up until now no one has been able to explain why they underachieve.

"This is because the problem has been so misunderstood. The science has never been there to provide an understanding of the root causes and hence provide a solution."

'Marked improvement'

Three dyslexics who were observed at the centre over a six-month period - and featured on a national TV programme. All showed positive results.

Eight-year-old Ben Figg, from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, was said to have made significant improvements in reading and spelling, with his teacher Amanda Rock saying she had noticed "a marked improvement".

Father and daughter Rod and Nikita Firmer, also from Tunbridge Wells, both suffer from dyslexia, with Mr Firmer trying to avoid reading or writing and Nikita, 13, having a record of poor school grades and high absenteeism.

Mr Firmer said his confidence, reading and writing had improved during the treatment and Nikita's teacher said she was more confident in school, and was now in the top three of one of her classes.

The treatment is currently being tried on pupils at Balsall Common Primary School in Solihull.

The head teacher, Trevor Davies, said results already indicated significant improvements in the children's reading scores.

The centre in Kenilworth has treated more than 2,000 dyslexics in less than a year.

Other centres are now being opened in Glasgow, Bedford, Chelsea, Twickenham, Newport, Manchester, Sheffield and in Sydney, Australia, within the next four months.

See also:

07 Jan 02 | Health
Dyslexia blood pressure 'link'
27 Oct 01 | Features
Trouble with numbers
20 Mar 01 | Education
Jet pilot technology for dyslexia
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