Parents of children with language processing difficulties often have trouble sorting out the sometimes fantastic claims made by companies selling various products and programs for improving reading and writing. With so many products claiming to work wonders like "balancing" and "building" the brain, improving "auditory processing," straightening out "visual processing problems," etc. no wonder parents are confused!
Here are some things you can do to cut through the confusion and marketing:
#1. Before you look at any program review the “best practices” guidelines from authoritative sources and agencies that aren't selling anything. Possible sources include:
- Dr. Sally Shaywitz's book, Overcoming Dyslexia;
- The International Dyslexia Association’s (IDA) Just the Facts summaries and Information on Intervention and Instruction;
- LD Online (See this article.)
- The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) position statement linked here and summarized here.
#2. Then, with a list of the guidelines you have compiled from step #1, make a checklist of the “best practice” features of reading and writing interventions.
#3. Using your checklist, review all the programs you are considering. Look at the claims on the company’s website. Be skeptical. Put on your “critical thinking hat". Check off the “best practices” that you are sure each program features.
#4. Look for research that has studied methodologies (both branded and unbranded) using meta-analytic methods, combining results across well-controlled studies. For example:
- Is Fast ForWord a backward step? (http://www.preventionaction.org/what-works/fast-forword-backward-step/5547)
- The National Reading Panel Report (2000): http://www.nichd.nih.gov/research/supported/Pages/nrp.aspx
#5. Here are some resources for evaluating therapies:
- Decoding Dyslexia–Arkansas has compiled a list of programs that "don't work". Here is the Dropbox file containing a critical review of each program.
- The Cochrane Collaboration (http://www.cochrane.org)
- TRIP Database for Evidence Based Medicine (http://www.tripdatabase.com)
- Quackwatch (http://www.quackwatch.com)
- The Winter 2011 issue of “Perspectives,” the quarterly publication of the International Dyslexia Association, addressed three “Controversial Therapies for Dyslexia":
- Fast ForWord® Language
- Vision Therapy
- Physical Exercise and Movement-Based Interventions
Selecting a Treatment Approach for Your Struggling Reader / Writer