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Help for Dyslexia, Dysgraphia and Dyspraxia

Can Neurofeedback Help Dyslexia, Dysgraphia and Dyspraxia ?

Dyslexia

It has been identified that the brains of dyslexia sufferers show different activity than those that don’t.

The areas of the brain associated with reading skills, visual distortions and over-sensitivity to light are well understood and Neurofeedback protocols have been established to help difficulties in this area.

Dyslexia is known as a ‘reading disorder’, manifesting in slow progress and difficulties with reading. It is essentially identified by reading achievements being substantially below what is expected given a child’s ages, measured in intelligence and education. Dyslexia significantly hinders (academic) activities requiring reading skills and is associated with certain characteristics.

Characteristics of Dyslexia

Hesitating over words;

Confusing letters with similar shapes, such as ‘u’ and ‘n’, visually similar words like ‘was’ and ‘saw’ and small words such as ‘it’ and ‘is’;

Omittng small words such as ‘it’ and ‘is’ other words, or word endings or

Making errors regarding semantically related words (reading ‘cat’ for ‘dog’), polysyllabic words (‘’animal, ‘corridor’, ‘family’ and so on) or grammar (including inconsistent use of tense).

This paper gives a comprehensive description of the neuroscience behind problems with reading in dyslexic and brain-damaged patients, and describes case studies where Neurofeedback resulted in a 400% improvement in reading memory, a 109% increase in reading ability, a 250% increase in reading comprehension:

·         Thornton, Kirtley E., and Dennis P. Carmody. “Electroencephalogram biofeedback for reading disability and traumatic brain injury.” Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America 14.1 (2005): 137-162.

This randomised controlled trial published in 2009 showed considerable improvement in spellingfollowing Neurofeedback training:

·         Breteler, Marinus HM, et al. “Improvements in spelling after QEEG-based neurofeedback in dyslexia: A randomized controlled treatment study.” Applied psychophysiology and biofeedback 35.1 (2010): 5-11.

Dysgraphia

Like dyslexia, dysgraphia is a neurological disorder. Dysgraphia manifests in difficulties with (hand)writing and is often identified by an inability to write properly, difficulties with fine motor skills/control and pain when writing. The effects of dysgraphia can manifest in several in many ways; poor, incorrect or distorted writing (considering language development), varying sizes of letters and spaces between letters or words and difficulties following a straight line or margin when writing. Other characteristics are associated as well.

Characteristics of Dysgraphia

Writing that is impossible to read

Mixing printing and cursive writing

Writing in all directions (i.e. right slant then left slant)

Mixing up capital letters and lower case letters

Forming letters abnormal and irregular.

Very slow writing

Copying slow

A very tight pen grip, a ‘fist grip’

Holding a pen very low down so fingers almost touches the paper

Watching the hand intently whilst actually writing.

Poor or bizarre spelling

Difficulties with spelling wrong words (i.e. ‘brot’ for brought and ‘stayshun’ for station) or spelling words (i.e. drink as ‘brink’)

The areas of the brain associated with writing are also well understood. This 2012 study showed significant improvement in handwriting for all 24 participants who undertook Neurofeedback training:-

·         Walker, Jonathan E. “QEEG-guided neurofeedback for remediation of dysgraphia.” Biofeedback 40.3 (2012): 113-114.

Dyspraxia

Dyspraxia, is a neurological disorder as well and is considered as a developmental co-ordination disorder (DCD). In general, dyspraxia is identified by difficulties in basic and fine motor skills that affect movement and co-ordination. This manifests for example in a lack of co-ordination and clumsy behaviour, as well as difficulties regarding language, perception and thought. The specific characteristics of Dyspraxia can differ in children and adults, although there are a few overlapping characteristics.

Characteristics of Dyspraxia

Difficulties in fine movements (i.e. handwriting, using scissors, tying shoelaces, doing up buttons and using a knife and fork)

Movement and co-ordination problems (i.e. hopping, jumping, running, and catching or kicking)

Difficulties keeping/ sitting still

Difficulties in processing thoughts

Poor attention span, difficulties to concentrate on one thing

Not automatically picking up new skills and the need of encouragement and repetition to learn

Problems with writing stories and copying from the blackboard

 

 

Dyscalculia

Another neurological disorder is dyscalculia, also called a ‘Mathematics disorder’. Dyscalculia identified by difficulties in understanding and learning mathematics and manifests in problems regarding understanding numbers, learning how to manipulate numbers and math facts. A characteristic that typically occurs is difficulty in counting (back and forth). But again, it depends per individual which characteristic manifests.

Characteristics of Dyscalculia

Difficulty reading clocks / telling the time

Difficulties with the number zero

Problems regarding handling money

Difficulty conceptualizing time (often late or early)

Lack of understanding spatial orientation (differentiating between left and right)

Difficulties in (following) directions and navigating

Difficulty reading music notes

Having difficulties in measurements of objects, distance, temperature and/or speed

Often unable to understand (and remember) mathematical concepts, rules, formulae, and sequences

Inability to concentrate on mentally intensive tasks

Over-sensitivity to noise, smell, light

Poor name/face retrieval and/or problems in recollecting names

The areas of the brain associated with mathematical calculations are also well understood and Neurofeedback protocols are available to improve the function in these areas.
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