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Tinted lenses

Helen Irlen, an educational psychologist from California, was the first to claim that tinted glasses could help children with specific reading difficulty. She described a ‘scotopic sensitivity syndrome’, characterized by headaches, itchy eyes, and difficulty in reading. To treat this, the child is tested with transparencies of different colours to find the ‘correct’ tint. The claims for this form of treatment have not been confirmed by controlled trials.

Hypoglycaemia diets

‘Hypoglycaemia’ means low blood sugar. There are those who believe that this is a common cause of all kinds of learning and behaviour difficulties. They usually treat this with diets high in protein and complex carbohydrates.

True hypoglycaemia is a very rare condition and is not associated with specific learning difficulties. There is no evidence that antihypoglycaemia diets improve specific learning difficulties.

Laterality training

As mentioned in Chapter 1, Dr Samuel T. Orton first proposed failure of dominance as the cause of specific learning difficulties. This theory was critically discussed in Chapter 3.

Since Dr Orton’s time, there have been many who have tested for evidence of laterality and utilized this in therapy. Such treatment forms part of some of the other perceptual training programmes, such as sensory integrative therapy and the Doman-Delacato method. It is also practised by many educators and therapists who adopt a more conventional approach.

Laterality training may take many forms, such as patching the ‘non-dominant’ eye, active training of the ‘dominant’ hand, and even discouraging a child from hearing non-verbal music in the belief that this will stimulate the ‘nondominant’ side of the brain.

In Chapter 3, I commented on how unreliable tests of laterality are, and how dominance and laterality have a far more complex relationship than is often realized. There is certainly no evidence that laterality training is beneficial to children with specific learning difficulties. Time spent in the testing of laterality, and training of ‘dominance’, would be better spent on more conventional methods of teaching desired skills.

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