ITV Yorkshire chose to dedicate over two minutes of their 6pm news bulletin today to an uncritical plug for the Dore treatment for learning difficulties.* The lack of good evidence that the Dore programme works – and the fact that Dore UK went into administration last year – were not enough to prevent them from doing so.
Joanna – a dyslexic Dore client – is introduced as someone whose life was “transformed” by “a special programme designed to help stimulate the part of the brain that stimulates learning”. This type of position is maintained throughout the segment, but there are a number of problems with it:
- Whatever Dore is designed to do, there is no good evidence that it works.
- Dore aims to stimulate the cerebellum. This region of the brain appears to play a role in learning, but so do others. There is no one ‘part of the brain that stimulates learning’.
Joanna was on the Dore programme for two years, and has clearly made good progress over those two years. However, people with learning difficulties do develop and progress, even without treatment: there is no way of knowing whether or not Dore was responsible for her progress.
These are all pretty obvious points, but the news segment did not have anyone presenting this point of view or explaining about evidence-based treatments for learning difficulties. Indeed – rather than referring interested viewers to reliable charities such as the British Dyslexia Association – the segment ends with a link to Dore UK’s website displayed on the screen (and read out by the presenter).
A final concern is the negative approach to learning difficulties outlined in the ITV segment. Joanna’s dyslexia is said to have affected her chances of “leading a normal, independent life”. Dyslexic people – even quite severely dyslexic – can and do live independent lives.** Especially as there is not good evidence that Dore cures dyslexia, it is highly irresponsible to present such a negative view of the life chances of dyslexics.
* Sorry, it doesn’t seem to have been released online yet. I’ll link it if it does appear.
** I’m not sure what a ‘normal’ life would be, but plenty of dyslexics seem quite satisfied with their lives.
See also: a discussion of problematic recent coverage on the BBC.
UPDATE: just realised that Brainduck blogged this yesterday. It turns out that they called ITV Yorkshire before the broadcast and
explained the background & problems with this approach (anecdotes are not data, lack of evidence base…the usual)
This makes this broadcast even more unacceptable: ITV Yorkshire were clearly forewarned.