Monday, November 30, 2009

Study: Autism treatment works in kids as young as 18 months -

Study: Autism treatment works in kids as young as 18 months -

CHICAGO (AP) — The first rigorous study of behaviour treatment in autistic children as young as 18 months found two years of therapy can vastly improve symptoms, often resulting in a milder diagnosis.

The study was small — just 48 children evaluated at the University of Washington— but the results were so encouraging it has been expanded to several other sites, said Geraldine Dawson, chief science officer of the advocacy group Autism Speaks. Dawson, a former University of Washington professor, led the research team.

Early autism treatment has been getting more attention, but it remains controversial because there's scant rigorous evidence showing it really works. The study is thus "a landmark of great import," said Tony Charman, an autism education specialist at the Institute of Education in London.

There's also a growing emphasis on diagnosing autism at the earliest possible age, and the study shows that can pay off with early, effective treatment, said Laura Schreibman, an autism researcher at the University of California at San Diego.

The National Institute of Mental Health funded the study, which was published online Monday in Pediatrics.

Children aged 18 months to 30 months were randomly assigned to receive behavior treatment called the Early Start Denver model from therapists and parents, or they were referred to others for less comprehensive care.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Asperger's syndrome: Extradition a breach of Human Rights?

Gary McKinnon will be extradited to the United States on computer hacking charges

Computer hacker Gary McKinnon could be sent to the US within weeks after the Home Secretary refused to block his extradition.

Alan Johnson finally dashed hopes that the Government would intervene in the case, insisting there was no evidence that the extradition would breach Mr McKinnon's human rights.

Mr McKinnon's mother, Janis Sharp, said ministers should "hang their heads in shame" for the "barbaric" decision.

His legal team is to apply for a judicial review within days, but Ms Sharp warned that if that was not granted then her son could be extradited by Christmas.

Mr McKinnon, who has Asperger's syndrome, faces up to 60 years in jail for hacking into Pentagon computers soon after the 9/11 terror attacks. He says he was looking for evidence of UFOs.

He and his family, who have led a high-profile campaign to block the extradition, were given hope last month when Mr Johnson agreed to study new medical evidence. The Home Secretary's deliberations came after the High Court refused the 43-year-old permission to appeal to the Supreme Court against his removal.

But Mr Johnson said in a statement: "I have carefully considered the representations in the case of Gary McKinnon. I am clear that the information is not materially different from that placed before the High Court earlier this year and does not demonstrate that sending Mr McKinnon to the United States would breach his human rights.

"As the courts have affirmed, I have no general discretion. If Mr McKinnon's human rights would be breached, I must stop the extradition. If they would not be breached, the extradition must go ahead."

Mr McKinnon's family say that his health has deteriorated significantly under the pressure of the pending extradition and fears about how he will be treated by the US authorities. There are fears that he may even commit suicide.

Ms Sharp said: "To force a peaceful, vulnerable, misguided UFO fanatic like Gary thousands of miles away from his much-needed support network is barbaric. This is a cruel and miserable decision. If the severity of Gary's medical condition isn't sufficient to prevent his extradition, I can't imagine what is. God help others facing a similar fate. I'm so upset and angry."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Autism: Man, Wrongly Jailed for Murder, Wins Settlement

Ozem Goldwire in 2007, after he was released from jail. Under interrogation, he had falsely confessed to killing his sister, Sherika Goldwire, in 2006.

A 31-year-old autistic man who, after 17 hours of questioning from detectives, confessed to murdering his sister in 2006, only to be released later when it turned out he was innocent, will receive $190,000 and payments from a $150,000 annuity under a settlement with the city.

The man, Ozem Goldwire, discovered the body of his sister, Sherika, on Jan. 2, 2006 at the home they shared in Brownsville, Brooklyn. He called 911.

After intense questioning from detectives, he eventually said that they had argued two nights earlier over the television volume, that he had hit her with a cookie tin and that he then strangled her.

But Mr. Goldwire soon retracted the confession — there is no record of his interrogation — and a psychologist hired by the Brooklyn district attorney’s office found that, although Mr. Goldwire had normal intelligence, he was highly suggestible and eager to please. “It is likely that he wanted to meet the needs of the detectives as a well as to bring the interview to an end,” the psychologist wrote.

Meanwhile, Mr. Goldwire spent more than a year in jail at Rikers Island, awaiting trial on charges of second-degree murder, for a crime he did not commit, before Justice Gustin L. Reichbacht threw out the charges.

Mr. Goldwire subsequently sued the city, accusing the Police Department and the Brooklyn district attorney’s office of improper conduct.

In a settlement announced this week — and reported by The Daily News — the city agreed to pay Mr. Goldwire and his lawyers a $190,000 settlement up front.

In addition, the city agreed to establish a $150,000 annuity to protect Mr. Goldwire’s interests; he will receive monthly payments from the annuity for 30 years beginning in 2019.

Dyslexia - Multi-sensory Learning

We are creatures of great sensitivity and have the ability to understand things from many perspectives. The most effective teaching method for children with learning differences is to engage a multisensory approach. Multisensory teaching strives to utilise all the child's senses, to relay information or convey meaning to the students.

The teacher accesses the auditory, visual, and kinesthetic pathways to enhance memory and learning because they know that by using as many sensory paths as possible the more likely that the message will be understood and be absorbed.

For example, when learning the vowel combination “oa” the student might first look at it and then have to trace the letters in the air while speaking out loud.

This combination of listening, looking, and moving around creates a more lasting impression for the student. Relationships and connections between items and events, will become more memorable and concepts can be built up.

Multisensory learning started back in the 1920s by Dr. Samuel Orton at the Mobile Mental Health Clinic in Iowa. Dr. Samuel Orton, one of the first to recognise, what we now call 'dyslexia' in students.

He suggested that teaching the “fundamentals of phonic association with letter forms, both visually and kinesthetically presented and reproduced in writing, until the correct associations were built up,” would be the best learning approach for students of all ages.

Dr. Orton had his patients trace, copy, and write letters whilst saying their corresponding sounds and associations. Today this method is known as multisensory learning.

Children experiencing dyslexia often struggle with auditory and/or visual processing. They have trouble recalling words and how they are pronounced. This means that they do not comprehend the roles that sounds play in words.

These children have difficulties rhyming words as well as blending sounds together to form words. Children who experience dyslexia, do not understand or acquire the alphabetic code. They are unable to grasp and retain the 'simple' repetative learning and memorising systems expected of them in the primary grades.

If a child with dyslexia is given a task that uses just hearing and vision, without drawing upon other senses, the student will be at a disadvantage. When taught with a multisensory approach, children will learn alphabetic patterns and words by utilising all pathways – hearing (auditory), seeing (visual), touching (tactile) and moving (kinesthetic).

Dyslexic students do not need more of the same instruction in class but a different type of instruction. They need to learn basic language sounds and the letters or letter combinations, that are used to make them. Becuase you are engaged in a building process, you need to starting from the very beginning and move forward in a gradual but logical, step by step process, which builds on the previous step.

For this to be retained, the children need to be taught to do this by using their eyes, ears, voices, and hands. We are a sensitive multi-talented creature that enjoys stimulation, challenge and achievement. Children experiencing Dyslexia are no different from the rest of us. They need to be stimulated, challenged and be able to feel that other great sense, the sense of achievement. Something we all crave and enjoy when we succeed in learning a new skill.

Conficious Proverb
Tell me, and I will forget.
Show me, and I may remember.
Involve me, and I will understand.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Growing Backlash Against Overparenting

The Growing Backlash Against Overparenting

Moderation in all things!

Dyslexia Untied: Weak Reading or Pre-reading Skills

Clearly parents are keen to see their children showing a keen interest in reading and writing because we all see it as setting them on the path to learning. Learning is the first step towards education, qualifications, achievements and success in their future life. So, if it starts badly it is going to be difficult for the child(ren)to keep up.

This causes most parents some real concern and their efforts to help can add more pressure and stress to a child that is just 'not getting it' and has a different perception of what they are seeing and confusion about what is being asked of them.

Yes, it is true that children who experience certain levels of pre-reading and reading issues can be displaying potential symptoms of Dyslexia. It is also possible that they are simply experiencing a confusion of perception in what is required or a disinterest in the activity.

Parental Acceptance
Most parents are surprised and confused by the fact that their child may have a form of Dyslexia because the child is bright, attentive, responsive and otherwise intelligent. As with all things, there is a level of emotional learning that the parent has to go through before they accept the reality of the situation. Qualified professional consultants can assist with this,
sometimes very difficult process.

The next section gives you some indicators to forewarn parents as to the type of symptoms they may see in their child.

- Identifying simple sounds -
By school age most children can identify words that sound alike. They are able to list simple words that begin with the same letter. If you ask them to tell you a word beginning with 'B' or 'Buh' they will quickly respond with the words they know and will respond to help or prompting by the parent.

- A child with Dyslexia will show great disinterest in this activity because they cannot detect or sense the 'sound v letter' concept that the parent is talking about. You may as well be asking them about Algebra, they have no understanding of the concept.

- Detecting Rhyming Words -
The human brain's love of melodic music and rhyme means that if you can use this in your child's teaching, they should find it a pleasant way to learn about letters, words and more. Plus, it should be easier for them to learn in this way. The anticipation of rhymes and word sounds is demonstrated in their grasp and love of certain nursery rhymes, which children will happily 'sing' to you without much encouragement.

- Children with Dyslexia are unable to enjoy this activity or have a greatly diminished enjoyment of it, because they may not be able to 'sense' the rhyme and therefore miss the concept entirely.

- Identifying Your Name in Letters -
Pre-school children know and can recognise their names. They are happy to create their name in written or graphical format, as and when the mood takes them or on request. If a child is very slow or very reluctant to do this, it may be an indication of an underlying level of Dyslexia.

- Letters versus Squiggles -
Children with Dyslexia will have difficulty in separating 'real' letters from 'letter-like' squiggles and this may continue even up to them starting school. At this time, children who do not experience Dyslexia will 'know' their letters and will be able to correct parents and teachers 'mistakes' if they write a non-letter squiggle.

- Re-telling stories -
If you ask a young child to tell you a story that they have heard then they will be able to recall and relate most of the core details of the story in a slow but competent manner but a child with Dyslexia will have great difficulty and may never get to the end of it. They will be having difficulty recalling the sequence of events as well as putting them in the right order for recall.

- Listening to Stories -
If your child is not interested in hearing stories or re-telling stories they may have a level of Dyslexia. They will have difficulty in following the simple plot, uderstanding word plays and rhyming. Their lack of interest will cause them to be inattentive and may even cause them to wander off or start playing with a toy instead.

Lacking Dexterity: Having Trouble Playing and Dressing

Playing ball
Children with Dyslexia often have difficulty with dexterity, hand-to-eye co-ordination and fine motor skills. A child with Dyslexia may have difficulty playing with a ball, especially when throwing and catching.

Dressing up
When learning to dress themselves, a child may have difficulty tying shoelaces, buttoning up a shirt or blouse and other activities that require good dexterity.

Dominant Hand
Also as part of this 'dexterity' issue, a child may be late in determining a dominant hand i.e. whether they prefer to use their right hand or their left for most activities like writing and drawing.

This may mean that the child uses either hand when playing, picking things up or drawing. Some children can reach the age of 7 years before a preference is established and even at that time they may use one hand for writing and the other hand for other activities, like throwing and catching.

Don't Panic! Many children are late in developing motor and co-ordination skills, this does not mean they suffer from Dyslexia but it will mean that they require a bit more attention, to help them overcome any physical or behavioural issues.

Some children shows signs of being ambidextrous for an extended period of time but it does not mean they are showing signs of, or are experiencing dyslexia. There may be other explanations and you should seek qualified expert advice, to ascertain whether it is an issue or a talent.

Remember that a lack of dexterity alone does not indicate a definite diagnosis of Dyslexia. It is only one part of a suite or range of symptoms that add up to the Dyslexia experienced by young children and the level and effect of these symptoms varies dramatically.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dyslexia Untied: The Importance of Good Eyesight

Unfortunately, 20% (1 in 5) of all school age children have undetected vision problems. Don't panic! Not all of these are acute or permanent and not all are detrimental to the child's development but there are a number of issues that need to be addressed, as soon as possible (ASAP).

If your child has an undetected, undiagnosed or undefined vision problem, they can appear to demonstrate symptoms or behaviours that can be mistaken for dyslexia, but only superficially. Consultation with a qualified expert in the field will dispel or confirm this concern. Rapid intervention is important.

The worst case, and possibly your worst fear, is that your child does have dyslexia and their vision problems are making it more difficult.

Regular Eye Checkups
It is important for all young children that their eyesight is checked regularly and corrected accordingly. It is more important than for adults and older children, because the younger child may be growing and developing at a much quicker rate.

Unfortunately, even if you get your child's eyesight checked as part of a normal screening process, there is a possibility that the average optician will miss the telltale signs of dyslexia, unless it is brought to their attention. It falls back on the parent to be more aware and to be more insistant or assertive, on behalf of their child(ren).

Symptoms to look for
Symptoms that are often associated with Dyslexia can be as obscure as the slight tilt of the head when trying to read or follow words in a text or book. More complex issues are;

  • Amblyopia (lazy eye) - When one of your child's eyes doesn't work as well as the other. 3% 0f children under the age of 6 are reported to have Amblyopia. Treatment: eye exercises, eye patch, etc. Long Term: If it's not treated early it can lead to poor vision into adulthood.

  • Strabismus (deviating eyes) - When your child's eyes appear dis-coordinated and don't look towards the same object, together. It may be a fixed or permanent defect or it may only be temporary and brought on by stress and tiredness. Either way you should seek qualified expert advice.

These conditions are not rare and neither is the situation whereby your child has the 'normal' 20/20 vision but is having difficulties in sustaining their gaze, co-ordinating their eyes, holding and varying their focus, when objects move closer and away from them.

Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome - Some children with Dyslexia have difficulty tracking words and letters along a line or sentence. This is known as Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome, a known issue that can be addresed separately. The Irlen Method of treatment concentrates on this specific issue.

If you have concerns, take this up with your doctor or with a qualified optometrist or opthamologist. The qualifications of the local high street franchise opticians can vary quite dramatically. Check their credentials.

Early detection and diagnosis is important in all childhood issues and none moreso than in vision and hearing, as these can very much affect the child(dren)'s development, education and behaviour.


Don't Panic! The majority of Dyslexia consultants and experts will agree that vision problems 'alone' do not cause or lead to the onset of Dyslexia but it does complicate the situation for the child(ren), the family and the teachers.

Therefore, the message here is; be aware of the impact that vision has on the development of the child and their well being and importantly, early detection, diagnosis and correction or treatment by qualified experts, is essential.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

ADHD: Brain Training and Concentration

How can you use Video Games consoles, in the same way that NASA uses Flight Simulators, to help you gain the level of concentration that is normally experienced by pilots and astronauts.

In addition to the games console you need to be connected to a bio-feedback instrument that measures your level of excitement and concentration and feeds this back to you, the player. The feedback loop also affects the speed of the game, the more excited you are the slower the game but when you start to concentrate and stay calm, the game will speed up.

Thus, allowing you to be in control of the game speed and therefore, the enjoyment factor, simply by controlling your concentration levels. So, you can very quickly see the cause and feel the effect of better attention focus and control in your play and your life.

This equipment is available from

Adult Dyslexia: Smart People Experience Dyslexia

Monday, November 9, 2009

Dyslexia Untied: Find Out What it feels like

This picture shows 4 perfectly round circles but they sometimes appear to be connected and form a spiral and sometimes they seem to be interlinked.

Dyslexia is not an optical illusion but it may be related. The way in which our eyes are deceived in this picture is similar to the way dyslexics see words on a page, they appear to move around.

Dyslexia is a real problem, especially in developing children and it becomes a severe handicap in young adults but there is a reason for it and there is help available.

There is a way of understanding what the child or adult is going through and how they are experiencing the world.

People who are dyslexic have a strong sense of visualisation, it is how they see the world and there is an excellent and succesful method of understanding their visions, engaging better control over their images and finally overcoming Dyslexia.

You cannot cure Dyslexia because it is not a disease. You cannot repair the faulty genes because it is not a genetic disorder. Dyslexia is a heightened sense of visualisation that should be a gift but it has become a burden because it is not understood, accepted or addressed, until now.

I have seen living proof that this approach works, in an amazingly short period of time. After years of failed attempts by the established methods, an 8 year old dyslexic boy was reading and spelling forwards and backwards in 2 different languages within 1 hour of meeting Olive Hickmott. He was not only won over to this way of learning but he was so motivated that his parents have trouble keeping him in books.

The key to it is knowing that Dyslexics are able to capture a word in a complete image not as a series of letters, which means that they do not care what language it is or in what order you want the letters, they can deliver it, easily and rapidly. Positive re-enforcement does the rest.

Once the Dyslexic overcomes the barriers that society have put in their way they become like sponges that can absorb and recall words, facts and data at a remarkable rate. The sooner they get the chance, the sooner they can get going. All you have to do is introduce them to this approach and to Olive Hickmott, they will do the rest.

Don't take my word for it. Ask Olive to put you in touch with other concerned parents who have endured hours of stress and worry trying to 'normalise' their child's life, people like yourself who have spent a fortune on gadgets and devices that don't help. Be prepared to be pleasantly surprised. Let them tell you about their experiences and then you can decide for yourself.

If you want to know more click on the picture or this link. You will be glad you did..........

Dyslexia Untied: What does it feel like?

It is difficult to describe the feelings and sensations that swirl around your head and eyes but this YouTube video does well to illustrate the difficulties. More on Dyslexia Untied

Dyslexia Untied: Perception of Reality and the Reality of Perception

We have long since been aware that our version of the truth and reality is based on our view and perception of the world, and that this can vary from person to person. The Present day philosopher Thomas Nagel states;
"For many men and philosophers alike, the exemplary case of reality is the world described by physics, the science in which we have achieved our greatest detachment from a specifically human perspective on the world.

But for precisely that same reason, physics is bound to leave undescribed, the subjective character of conscious mental processes, whatever may be their intimate relation to the physical operation of the brain.

The subjectivity of consciousness is a feature of reality, without which we could not do physics or anything else, and it must occupy as fundamental a place in any credible world view as does matter, energy, space, time and numbers."
Is it so difficult to understand that the dyslexic person is experiencing a different perception of this world and does not share our rather simplistic and static view. Perhaps we adults are just better at suppressing our visions and have long since learned to prevent them intruding into our fixed view of reality. We left that behind when we moved from being a child to a scholar, a receptive pupil in a class of excited minds.

But we left someone behind. Someone who could not quiet their busy imagination or stop the images dancing around in their vision. When the teacher stated that "A is for Apple", not everyone saw a single apple. Someone saw an avalanche of apples and some were green and some were red and some hung in the trees and the trees swayed in the wind and the leaves were also green and the leaves blew across the blue sky and ......

"Please miss, I am confused! Where do I put this symbol you call 'A' and why will it not stay still?" To this someone, 'A' was for chaos! They do not perceive your reality. Can you perceive their dyslexia?

Dyslexia Untied - Phonological Dyslexia

Phonological Dyslexia
(Also known as Dysphonetic, Auditory or dysphonesia dyslexia) This kind of dyslexia is the most common and the person has difficulty in identifying phenomes i.e the sounds within words, and will have difficulty matching letters to sounds.

When trying to read they will make wild guesses at words and will struggle with nonsense words or fictional words that have been constructed from Proper names, Mnemonics, etc.

Greater difficulty will occur when spelling words and they will try to make sense of the illogical chaos and lack of comprehension they are experiencing. Their attempts to spell will include impossible letter combinations e.g. 'sfr'

Most tests for Dyslexia will include the requirement to read nonsense words e.g. 'sluft' and 'prenck'. This is to force the subject to read and sound out the letter combination as a word, revealing an underlying comprehension with letters, words and their construction. Also, it is thought to prevent the subject from simply guessing words they have heard rather than one's they have read.

This test and exercise is meant to determine whether a subject has a Phonological Dyslexia.

Dyslexia Untied - Visual Dyslexia

Visual Dyslexia
(Also known as dyseidetic, surface dyslexia or dyseidesia) If your subject has visual dyslexia, he can sound out words, but has trouble with words that don't sound out regularly e.g. such as 'who' and 'any'. Subjects with this type of dyslexia have to learn words primarily by sight and will need to 'picture' the word for later recall.

Given a piece of text, they will read very slowly and are better able to spell phonetically without registering that the 'appearance' of the words are wrong e.g. throo, skayt, dotter, etc.

To test for Visual Dyslexia, psychologists will ask the subject to read a number of phonetically regular words (e.g. think, wishing, testing, etc.) and irregular words (e.g. who, they, enough, etc.) This will reveal obvious disparities in their reading, by comparing their abilities to read each group or words.

Visual Dyslexia is completely different from 'Visual Stress' or 'Scotopic sensitivity syndrome' SSS, this is where the letters of words apparently seem to jump around on the page.

Visual Strees is sometimes thought to be treatable by special lenses and coloured overlays, but this requires specialist examination and recommendation by a qualified optometrist. There is also some concerns over the real effectiveness of this approach.

Dyslexia Untied - Mixed Dyslexia

Mixed Dyslexia
(Also known as Dysphoneidetic dyslexia). This term refers to a combination of phonological and visual dyslexia.

Not surprisingly, people with mixed dyslexias have severe defecits in reading as well as cognitive functions such as visual motor integration, visual perception and working memory.

Working /Short Term Memory
Working memory or short term memory, affects all types of dyslexia and assessors will tend use poor memory as an indicator of dyslexia. This is more difficult to assume when examining people in later life because of possible confusion caused by early-onset of Dementia, CJD and Alzheimer's Disease.

If you examine the arguments surrounding this perception, you will find that people with dyslexia may spend a great deal of time and effort engaging with their 'working memory'. This is thought to be because they cannot recall words, phrases and sentences from their long term memory.

They are expending a lot of time and effort building words from letters and trying to make sense of them in their 'working memory' and frontal lobes. This requires greater levels of consciousness and reduces the capacity for short term recall of other recent memories.

There is also an underlying level of fatigue that all dyslexic people experience, partly because of the high level of concentration required to sustain their coping mechanisms and partly because of their undergoing greater brain activity.

Recent scientific MRI research (American Journal of Neuroradiology) reveals that their brain activity is 5 time greater than non-dyslexic people, performing the same reading /writing tasks.

This clearly has a draining effect on the body's resources and the ability of the brain to function as expected. Can we really expect to get the best from people who are unfairly burdened by their different perspective

Dyslexia Untied - Dysnomia Dyslexia

Dysnomia Dyslexia
(Also known as Semantic dyslexia, Anomia or Naming-speed Deficits). When Psychologists describe people with any of the following terms, this means they have trouble finding their words. Dysnomia can affect speech skills, writing abilities, or both.

They can't always remember the correct word, even though they knew it before. They will use the term 'thingy' or something else less appropriate.

Psychologists test people for Dysnomia by using Randomised Automic Naming (RAN). This involves giving them a rapid automatic naming (RAN) test. Pictures of common everyday objects are rapidly flashed into their view and they are expected to name them as quickly as they can. Their level of Dysnomia is measured by their ability to recall words or not.

Dysnomia can also develop because of brain trauma. Dysnomia caused by strokes or head injuries will frequently reduce or disappear with time or through treatment.

Dyslexia Untied - Double Deficit

Double Deficit
This term is used to describe people with both Dyslexia and Dysnomia. It is a very difficult condition to live with and manage.

People with either type don't like to be asked to read out loud in front of others.

Although they may have been able to figure out a word they may be uncertain of how to pronounce it. You need to be aware of this when dealing with people with Double Deficit.

Dyslexia Untied - Severe, Mild or Dyslexic symptoms

Severe Dyslexia, Mild Dyslexia or Dyslexic symptoms
One thing to remember about Dyslexia is whatever type or form the dyslexia takes, not everyone experiences it to the same degree. It can vary in levels of severity and mildness.

Having mild dyslexic symptoms is not always an advantage because it generally results in a reduced level of sufficient support and assistance, which will be a barrier to otherwise smart and good people. and will reduce the possibilities and achievments in life.

Testing Times
Psychological testing can establish the level of dyslexia a person is experiencing but the follow-up support and assistance can vary from place to place, country to country. Be prepared to fight your corner to get the best assistance.

Also, be sure you know what levels of support to expect given the level of dyslexia being experienced. In these days of economic crisis and restricted budgets, you cannot depend on the education authorities or medical organisations to either know what services to provide or to properly implement it. You can expect them to be reluctant to spend money and to be hesitant in financing additional support but stay determined and know your rights.