New, Non-Invasive Therapy for Dyslexia

Education News
Mary Lonsdale
New therapy for dyslexia being pioneered

The application of a mild electric current to the brain could help improve the reading accuracy of people with dyslexia, a new study undertaken by the University of Geneva has concluded.

What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is the most common specific learning difference, affecting 10 – 15% of the population. It is characterised as a learning difference which affects reading and writing skills – primarily, but not exclusively. It’s now thought that dyslexia actually concerns information processing on a wider scale, and can impact on other areas (like organisational skills). Those who are affected by dyslexia are not less intelligent: in fact, there can be bonuses to thinking differently. Many dyslexic people are particularly skilled in visual or creative fields.

It has been estimated that 870,000 children have dyslexia.

The University of Geneva study

Several theories have been advanced as to the cause of dyslexia, but the most common relates to a difficulty processing language sounds (known as a ‘phonological deficit’). Interestingly, this deficit is thought to relate to changes in rhythmic or repetitive patterns of neural activity in the left auditory cortex – and this is what the University of Geneva study set out to explore.

Through various tests, which included the application of stimulation (transcranial alternating current stimulation, also known as tACS) to the left auditory cortex of a number of adults (half of whom were fluent readers; the other half were dyslexic), the team noted significant improvement in the phonological processing ability and reading  accuracy of the dyslexic group (and even a slight disruption in the fluent reader group).

This study is extremely exciting, not only because it sheds light on the causes of dyslexia in a compelling way, but also because it paves the way for non-invasive treatment for dyslexia – which may have long-term success, particularly if administered from an early age. Scientist Silvia Marchesotti has commented on this possibility, stating: ‘”The next steps for us are to investigate whether normalising oscillatory function in very young children could have a long-lasting effect on the organisation of the reading system.’

Next steps

Whilst the findings of this study are incredibly hopeful for the future, the fact remains that dyslexia currently affects between 800,000 – 1.3 million young people in education. In addition, a student dyslexia or another specific learning difference is twice as likely to fail to achieve a grade 4 or above in English and maths at GCSE;[i] and a student with dyslexia is three and a half times more likely to be temporarily or permanently excluded.[ii]

At Mentor Education, we think it’s time for a change. Years of underfunding mean that most schools have had to slash their learning and pastoral budgets, undermining their ability to help not only children with SEND, but also their parents. As a result, whole families are struggling to find a clear path forward. In our view, parents need accessible, high-quality information and guidance to help them make what are often difficult choices – and to ensure their children have all the support they need to move forward. There’s no reason that dyslexic children shouldn’t reach their full potential – and, most importantly, develop a love for learning!

Our experienced team are highly skilled in helping children of all different ages and learning styles; in addition, we are also specialists in working with students with special educational needs (SEN). Our students are not simply a number or a name on a list to us: we care deeply about their individual needs, their overall development, and their personal goals. With a full range of academic and psychometric assessments, a broad portfolio of support tools (which are constantly evolving in line with educational standards and best practice), and a roster of incredible teachers at our fingertips, we excel at providing support for unforeseen challenges – and using our highly agile approach to adapt our strategies accordingly. We provide education consultants for parents; online exam coaching and mentoring for teens; student counselling; and specialist SEN support, among other things, to ensure that you’re ready to tackle any challenges that may arise.

Contact us today to learn more about our unique ethos. We’re here to help.

[1] Educational cost of dyslexia. Financial, standards and attainment cost to education of unidentified and poorly supported dyslexia, and a policy pathway to end the educational cost of dyslexia. Report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Dyslexia and other SpLDs.

[2] Timpson Review of School Exclusion, May 2019.

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