THE DAlLY TELEGRAPH   Friday, May 21, 2004


Routine that headmaster found on internet sparks global interest


Pupils beat dyslexia with

exercise regime


'They had reached the end of their tether and they tumed to me for help'






SCHOOLCHILDREN suffering from dyslexia have seen dramatic improve­ments in their development thanks to a physical exercise programme designed to stimulate the brain.


Forty pupils who were diagnosed with learning difficulties associated with dyslexia took part in the two-year experiment, which involved twice­daily exercise routines.


At the end of the study they were found to be free of dyslexic symptoms, no longer needed extra help in dass and could join mainstream lessons.


Twenty-five schools around the country are now implementing the system following the success at Balsall Common Primary School, West Mid­lands, in helping 13,000 adults and children. Head tea.chers at schools in Australia, South Africa and America have asked if they can visit to learn about the programme.


Trevor Davies, Balsall's headmas­ter, said the results were amazing. He heard ab out the programme when the parents of one dyslexic pupil, called Simon, approached hirn for help.


"Sirnon had been diagnosed by educational psychologists as having acute dyslexia and was having serious problems trying to cope at school," said Mr Davies.


"His parents had tried various tradi­tional treatments, both in school and with support agencies, but the lack of any real improvement saw them reach the end of their tether and they turned to me for help." Having researched possible treatments, he referred them to the Dore Achievement Centre in Kenilworth, Warwicks, which had been carrying out work into dyslexia using an exercise programme called DDA T - Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Attention Disorder Treatment.


Mr Davies put Simon on the pro­gramme and when teachers noticed a sharp improvement in his work and self-esteem they teamed up witli the University of Exeter to launch a wider study. They screened more than 400 out of the school's 700 pupils and identified 40 with moderate to acute learning difficulties commonly asso­ciated with dyslexia, meaning they struggled to keep up in dass and needed extra help from teachers.


The group, aged between seven and 10, was split in two, with half taking part in the exercise programme and the others acting as a control. None of the teachers was made aware which children were receiving treatment


The exercises, which were carried out for 10 minutes before and after school, were simple and fun, such as getting children to stand on a cushion on one leg and then throw a beanbag from one hand to the other to improve co-ordina­tion, or balance on a wobble-board They were designed to stimulate the cerebellum part of the brain, which is responsible for learning.


The exercise group showed such a swift improvement that teachers even said they believed that parents were doing their children's homework.


After six months the control group was also introduced into the exercise programme so it too could benefit. The researchers re-screened the chil­dren after the treatment and all were shown to be free of dyslexie symp­toms. Remedial help in school was no longer necessary.


Mr Davies said: "I discovered DDAT on the internet. Research suggests that the cerebellum can be developed by balance and co-ordination, and makes the neural pathways run more freely."


Mr Davies said the research had also helped those pupils who also suffered from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.


Susan Treadwell, the director of education at the British Dyslexia Association. said the DDAT research was "encouraging".


She added: "I would be cautious in hailing it as a mirade eure because that has not been proven. 1 believe we are at the beginning of something which, on the basis of .the results so far, merits further investigation."


zurück zu "jonglieren"