Neurofeedback For Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia
Can Neurofeedback Help Dyslexia, Dysgraphia and Dyspraxia ?
It has been identified that the brains of dyslexia sufferers show different activity than those that don’t.
The areas of the brain associated with reading skills, visual distortions and over-sensitivity to light are well understood and Neurofeedback protocols have been established to help difficulties in this area. Dyslexia is known as a ‘reading disorder’, manifesting in slow progress and difficulties with reading. It is essentially identified by reading achievements being substantially below what is expected given a child’s age, measured in intelligence and education. Dyslexia significantly hinders (academic) activities requiring reading skills and is associated with certain characteristics.
|Characteristics of Dyslexia|
|Hesitating over words;|
|Confusing letters with similar shapes, such as ‘u’ and ‘n’, visually similar words like ‘was’ and ‘saw’ and small words such as ‘it’ and ‘is’;|
|Omittng small words such as ‘it’ and ‘is’ and other words, or word endings or|
|Making errors regarding semantically related words (reading ‘cat’ for ‘dog’), polysyllabic words (‘animal’, ‘corridor’, ‘family’ and so on) or grammar (including inconsistent use of tense).|
The following paper gives a comprehensive description of the neuroscience behind problems with reading in dyslexic and brain-damaged patients, and describes case studies where Neurofeedback resulted in a 400% improvement in reading memory, a 109% increase in reading ability, a 250% increase in reading comprehension:
- Thornton, Kirtley E., and Dennis P. Carmody. “Electroencephalogram biofeedback for reading disability and traumatic brain injury.” Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America 14.1 (2005): 137-162.
This randomized controlled trial published in 2009 showed considerable improvement in spelling following Neurofeedback training:
- Breteler, Marinus HM, et al. “Improvements in spelling after QEEG-based neurofeedback in dyslexia: A randomized controlled treatment study.” Applied psychophysiology and biofeedback 35.1 (2010): 5-11.
Like dyslexia, dysgraphia is a neurological disorder. Dysgraphia manifests in difficulties with (hand)writing and is often identified by an inability to write properly, difficulties with fine motor skills/control and pain when writing. The effects of dysgraphia can manifest in several ways; poor, incorrect or distorted writing (considering language development), varying sizes of letters and spaces between letters or words and difficulties following a straight line or margin when writing. Other characteristics are associated as well.
|Characteristics of Dysgraphia|
|Writing that is impossible to read|
|Mixing printing and cursive writing|
|Writing in all directions (i.e. right slant then left slant)|
|Mixing up capital letters and lower case letters|
|Forming letters abnormally and irregularly|
|Very slow writing|
|A very tight pen grip, a ‘fist grip’|
|Holding a pen very low down so fingers almost touch the paper|
|Watching the hand intently whilst actually writing.|
|Poor or bizarre spelling|
|Difficulties with spelling wrong words (i.e. ‘brot’ for brought and ‘stayshun’ for station) or spelling words (i.e. drink as ‘brink’)|
The areas of the brain associated with writing are also well understood. This 2012 study showed significant improvement in handwriting for all 24 participants who undertook Neurofeedback training:-
- Walker, Jonathan E. “QEEG-guided neurofeedback for remediation of dysgraphia.” Biofeedback 40.3 (2012): 113-114.
Dyspraxia is a neurological disorder as well and is considered a developmental co-ordination disorder (DCD). In general, dyspraxia is identified by difficulties in basic and fine motor skills that affect movement and coordination. This manifests for example in a lack of coordination and clumsy behavior, as well as difficulties regarding language, perception and thought. The specific characteristics of Dyspraxia can differ in children and adults, although there are a few overlapping characteristics.
|Characteristics of Dyspraxia|
|Difficulties in fine movements (i.e. handwriting, using scissors, tying shoelaces, doing up buttons and using a knife and fork)|
|Movement and co-ordination problems (i.e. hopping, jumping, running, and catching or kicking)|
|Difficulties keeping / sitting still|
|Difficulties in processing thoughts|
|Poor attention span, difficulties in concentrating on one thing|
|Not automatically picking up new skills and the need for encouragement and repetition to learn|
|Problems with writing stories and copying from the blackboard|
This Case-Study-–-7-Year-Old-Girl-with-Dyspraxia describes the success achieved by a young girl in the UK who undertook Neurofeedback training for Dyspraxia.
Another neurological disorder is dyscalculia, also called a ‘Mathematics disorder’. Dyscalculia is identified by difficulties in understanding and learning mathematics and manifests in problems regarding understanding numbers, and learning how to manipulate numbers and math facts. A characteristic that typically occurs is difficulty in counting (back and forth). But again, it depends per individual which characteristics manifest.
|Characteristics of Dyscalculia|
|Difficulty reading clocks / telling the time|
|Difficulties with the number zero|
|Problems regarding handling money|
|Difficulty conceptualizing time (often late or early)|
|Lack of understanding spatial orientation (differentiating between left and right)|
|Difficulties in (following) directions and navigating|
|Difficulty reading music notes|
|Having difficulties in measurements of objects, distance, temperature and/or speed|
|Often unable to understand (and remember) mathematical concepts, rules, formulas, and sequences|
|Inability to concentrate on mentally intensive tasks|
|Over-sensitivity to noise, smell, light|
|Poor name/face retrieval and/or problems in recollecting names|
The areas of the brain associated with mathematical calculations are also well understood and Neurofeedback protocols are available to improve the function in these areas.If you are interested to see if your child’s symptoms respond to Neurofeedback as the research has shown they can, please call us today at 801 686-9334.