New means of ranking the effectiveness of a range of current dyslexia interventions

Credit: fiedels / fotolia.com

How can we best treat dyslexia? A new meta-analysis of published data, carried out by researchers at LMU, now provides a means of ranking the effectiveness of a range of current interventions.

A recently published meta-analysis of the research literature provides the first evidence-based assessment of the relative effectiveness of a range of approaches to treating dyslexia. A research group led by Professor Gerd Schulte-Körne, Director of the Clinic of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at LMU Munich, has systematically evaluated data from published randomized controlled treatment studies of dyslexia. The results of their investigation were recently been published in the online journal PLoS One.

The term dyslexia refers to a specific difficulty in learning to read and spell. It affects 5-10% of school and although it is one of the most common learning disorders of childhood and adolescence, it also affects adults. Indeed, the condition is often diagnosed relatively late. "Up to 40% of children who show signs of dyslexia also have psychological problems, which often result from discrimination provoked by their learning difficulties. They are often confronted with comments such as: 'You're just too lazy' or 'You have to work harder'", says Prof. Schulte-Körne. Furthermore, affected children and their families are often left to cope with the problem on their own, because nobody is responsible for providing support for them beyond the confines of the classroom.

Many popular therapies are ineffective

"Early intervention and appropriate therapeutic measures that take into account the specific nature of each individual case are urgently needed", says Prof. Schulte-Körne, pointing out that the curriculum offered in normal schools is often insufficient in helping children with severe dyslexia to overcome their disability. "These children do not receive the necessary attention because school resources are inadequate and teachers are not sufficiently well trained to deal with the problem."

More than 20 different treatment methods have been developed which purport to help dyslexic children. "But in fact very few of them have any real effect," says Katharina Galuschka, who carried out the meta-analysis. "Systematic training of the very basic process of relating the sound of a word to its orthographic form turns out to be particularly important." The new study also shows that long-term interventions are significantly more effective than short-term training measures. In addition, the study reveals that many popular methods which concentrate on single factors such as enhancing visual scanning of text, or improving auditory perception, are ineffective. Cognition-enhancing medication or the use of tinted lenses also appear to be unable to improve the reading ability of dyslexic subjects.

"This the first meta-analysis of its kind and it provides a basis for formulating urgently needed guidelines for dyslexia treatment and therapy", Prof. Schulte-Körne explains. He and his research group are now coordinating a set of medical guidelines for the treatment of in Germany, due to be released shortly.

More information: Galuschka K, Ise E, Krick K, Schulte-Körne G (2014) "Effectiveness of Treatment Approaches for Children and Adolescents with Reading Disabilities: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials." PLoS ONE 9(2): e89900. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0089900

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Education system failing deaf children, research shows

Feb 20, 2014

The British education system is neglecting the needs of deaf children, many of whom have major reading difficulties, according to new research led by academics from City University London and funded by the Nuffield Foundation.

Guide to supporting students with dyslexia published

Sep 20, 2013

The IOP has produced a practical guide to supporting STEM students with dyslexia – thought to be about 5% of all STEM students in higher education. It aims to show how dyslexia affects students in STEM and describes some ...

Recommended for you

Research shows seven-year-olds can think strategically

21 minutes ago

(Medical Xpress)—A study by Melissa Koenig of the University of Minnesota and colleagues shows that by the time they reach the age of seven, children can think strategically, in an adult manner. The researchers ...

Discovery hints at why stress is more devastating for some

4 hours ago

Some people take stress in stride; others are done in by it. New research at Rockefeller University has identified the molecular mechanisms of this so-called stress gap in mice with very similar genetic backgrounds—a ...

Family dinners reduce effects of cyberbullying in adolescents

16 hours ago

Sharing regular family meals with children may help protect them from the effects of cyberbullying, according to a study by McGill professor Frank Elgar, Institute for Health and Social Policy. Because family meal times represent ...

The Edwardians were also fans of brain training

22 hours ago

Brain-training programmes are all the rage. They are part of a growing digital brain-health industry that earned more than US$1 billion in revenue in 2012 and is estimated to reach US$6 billion by 2020. The extent to which they actually improve brain function re ...

Report advocates improved police training

Aug 29, 2014

A new report released yesterday by the Mental Health Commission of Canada identifies ways to improve the mental health training and education that police personnel receive.

User comments