Category Archives: dyslexia

Dore and some interesting wikipedia edits

Looking at the Wikipedia page for Dore, we were interested to note that IP address 82.70.115.233 was associated with a number of edits to this page. Some of these changes – such as a 31/12/09 edit – seem to make the Wikipedia page more positive about the Dore treatment. Whois information links this IP to a Dave Harris. By a pure coincidence, I’m sure, a Dave Harris happens to be Dore’s Senior Systems Engineer.

I do like wikipedia.

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Dore media and blog coverage

After Wednesday’s ASA ruling, it’s great to see Dore starting to get some critical publicity. The Sun’s Jane Symons reports that

Professor Maggie Snowling, a literacy expert based at York University, has analysed the trial most often used by promoters of the programme. She said: “There were no significant improvements on the key tasks of reading and writing. The improvements were in things like threading beads.”

Shirley Cramer of the charity Dyslexia Action welcomed the ruling. “The ASA have looked carefully at the evidence, which is what we have done. Scientists have said you cannot make claims on the basis of this flimsy evidence.”

She said that parents found paid-for internet links particularly confusing as many did not realise they were in effect advertisements.

“A lot of parents use the internet to research these problems, but one of the worrying things with this sort of commercial stuff is that parents often find it difficult to tell what is legitimate and what’s not.”

In the past she says the charity has been “innundated” with calls from people who felt let down after spending thousands on the controversial courses.

She added that personalised exercises can help some people with dyspraxia – but these are available on the NHS.

The Mirror reports that

the Advertising Standards Authority has asked Dynevor to stand up its claims.

The firm sent two studies but the ASA ruled both flawed and said the online plugs were misleading.

Continue reading

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ASA: Dore advert is “misleading” and breaches rules on “truthfullness” and “substantiation”

I was delighted to see that the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint of mine about Dore’s advertising. I complained about an advert referring to “help with Dyslexia, ADHD, Dyspraxia or Asperger’s”. The ASA has reviewed the evidence Dore submitted to support their claims, and found that:

the evidence was inadequate to support claims to treat those [Aspergers Syndrome and dyspraxia]. With regards to dyslexia and ADHD, we did not consider that the studies were sufficiently robust to support the treatment claims for those conditions, and we therefore concluded that the claim was misleading.

The ad breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 7.1 (Truthfulness) and 50.1 (Health and beauty products and therapies).

I am delighted that the ASA has made such a firm ruling. Continue reading

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BBC response to complaint about Quinnell and Dore on Radio 5: it’s all about the balance.

The BBC have now responded to a complaint I submitted about how Scott Quinnell was allowed to plug Dore for dyslexia on Radio 5. The substantive parts of the BBC’s response are below:

It’s not always possible or practical to reflect all the different opinions on a subject within individual programmes. In dealing with any controversial matter the BBC is required to give a fair and balanced report. However, balance can’t simply be judged on the basis of the time allocated to the representatives of either side of an argument. Account also needs to be taken of the way a subject is covered over a period of time, across our output as a whole. Perfect balance is difficult to achieve on every single occasion but overall we believe it is a more achievable goal.

It’s part of our role as an impartial observer is to report a wide range of views on a particular topic but the BBC makes no editorial comment or judgement on the views expressed by contributors to our programmes. Although some people believe that a programme should not allow certain groups or individuals to air their views, we feel that it’s better to include many viewpoints wherever possible. This may include hearing opinions which some people may personally disagree with but which individuals may be fully entitled to hold in the context of legitimate debate.

We hope such an approach is more likely to provide the public with access to differing perspectives on a subject and to help explain context. Programmes do aim to ensure guests are challenged about their views or provide opportunity for contrasting views from other contributors and the audience. I’m sorry if you felt this wasn’t the case on this occasion but as mentioned this isn’t always possible within individual programmes.

However, a key part of ‘5 Live Breakfast’ is listener contribution and they do have different ways for listeners to get in touch and add to discussions and debates. The following website provides details on how you can do this:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/5live/shows/5live-breakfast/get-in-touch/

In this context, the reference to balance is completely unhelpful. There is not good evidence that Dore is effective. If ‘balance’ means giving non-evidence-based interventions as much or more coverage as evidence-based ones – and attributing as much credibility to interventions without a good evidence-base as to evidence-based ones – this does not serve the BBC’s listeners well. Continue reading

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BBC Radio 5 lets Scott Quinnell plug Dore, uncritically

BBC Radio 5 Live had Scott Quinnell on the 6/11/09 breakfast show*, for Dyslexia Awareness Week. Unfortunately, his conversation on the breakfast show gave him an opportunity to plug Dore unchallenged. We have a number of concerns about this radio segment:

  • Quinnell is allowed to state that by “stimulating…three senses” Dore “allows the neural pathways to be automatic between the cerebellum and…your thinking brain”.  There is not good evidence for this claim, but Quinnell is allowed to assert it unchallenged.
  • The BBC presenter talking with Quinnell comes across as supporting such claims, stating that it is “extraordinary…to think that [Dore exercises] can translate into being able to look at a page and to read”.
  • There is no mention of the lack of good evidence that the Dore treatment is effective.
  • There is no mention that Dore UK went into administration last year.
  • There is no mention of the fact that Dore is a commercial (and rather expensive) programme, nor that Dynevor, which now owns Dore, was established by Quinnell
  • The presenter has to check pronunciation of ‘Dore’ while discussing it with Quinnell on air.  I am not sure if this speaks to the quality of the pre-broadcast research into Dore and dyslexia.

In response to a previous complaint, I was told that the BBC

never intended to give Quinnell a platform in any way to promote Dore

I wonder what the intention was with this national radio slot?

It is a shame that Dyslexia Awareness Week could not have been used as a reason for discussion of evidence-based approaches to dyslexia. It is not appropriate for the BBC to allow an expensive and highly time-consuming commercial dyslexia treatment – without good evidence of efficacy – to be promoted in this way. I will be complaining to the BBC about this. I would encourage readers to do the same.

* on iplayer now, about 2:56 in.

PS: apologies if there is some repetition of this post: some of the mistakes made were similar enough that I found this hard to avoid.

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ITV Yorkshire allows Dore to be promoted uncritically: UPDATED

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. Continue reading

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BBC “never intended to give Quinnell a platform in any way to promote Dore”

We have previously blogged about how BBC1 gave Scott Quinnell a golden opportunity to plug Dore (a non-evidence based treatment for dyslexia and various learning difficulties) uncritically. We complained to the BBC about this, and have just had a response: it was very disappointing.

The BBC simply replied that

it was never intended to give Quinnell a platform in any way to promote Dore. It was more of an attempt at reflecting a human interest story whereby an international sportsman has had to cope with this disadvantage.

If this interview was not intended to give Quinnell an opportunity to plug Dore, then it was seriously mishandled (watch this YouTube clip to see what I mean). However, the BBC do not seem to acknowledge the extent of their failure, and there is no mention of what (if any) action they will take to prevent similar failures in future, and no apology for the poor standard of the interview with Quinnell. Continue reading

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