Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Dores Of Perception

EoR has been hearing advertisements on the radio for some time promoting a miraculous cure for conditions such as ADHD, and which are 100% effective over a short space of time, and come with a money back guarantee (EoR wonders why they have to offer that if the treatment is 100% effective?). The advertisements provide no details of what the therapy actually is. Of course, EoR's scamometer started going into the danger zone when these promotions began. An article in The West Australian newspaper of 2nd August 2006 provides further details.

A controversial drug-free program aimed at treating learning problems, including ADHD, has arrived in Perth and more than 300 West Australians have signed up at a cost of almost $5000 each. The Dore Achievement Centre opened in Perth in January and already some claim the treatment, which involves a series of twice-daily exercises, has reaped remarkable results. [...] Dore Achievement Centre's medical services manager Glynis Howard said the treatment was effective for children and adults with the symptoms of dyslexia, dyspraxia, Asperger syndrome and attentin deficit hyperactive disorder and the program usually took at least 13 months to complete. Clients underwent intensive testing before some of the 300 exercises were prescribed, to be updated every seven weeks. The program is based on the hypothesis that dyslexia and other learning difficulties are caused by a fault in the area of the brain which controls balance and muscle movement, and that by stimulating the cerebellum new neural connections will be formed and the brain will perform better in all activities, including reading and writing.

EoR congratulates the West on at least getting the claims right: they're a hypothesis, not a theory. The West also includes a dissenting view:

But opinion is split on the science behind the treatment. Academics around the world have panned it, labelling the Dore approach unproved, unscientific and unfounded. Perth developmental paediatrician Trevor Parry said he would not recommend the treatment as an option for people with learning disabilities and there was a consensus among many paediatricians that the program did not have enough scientific backing.

The West does, however, lose points for including the obligatory testimonial from a mother, and for presenting "both sides of the story" incorrectly:

However, some unpublished research and the centre's own figures suggest it is highly effective.

EoR would have passed that last sentence if the subeditor had corrected it to "Only some unpublished research and the centre's own figures suggest it is highly effective".

Eor went along to the Dore Achievement Centre website and filled in the online form to see if the Dore treatment could help him. He randomly filled in half the answers "Yes" and half "No" and was pleased to find that the treatment would, indeed, be of great benefit to him. But what if he had none of the symptoms? He went back to the online form and answered "No" to every single question. No difficulties of any sort. No struggling with anything. No fidgeting. No learning problems. He was then informed:

We will need to carry out more test results before we could advise you fully and this can easily be arranged at one of our centres

Often it causes great frustration because those affected can't understand why many everyday things are easier for others than it is for them

Happily today we have a drug-free answer that can make wonderful improvements to the underlying cause and help overcome many of the symptoms

We measure the average improvements made by our clients in a number of other areas - these are the results

Etc etc etc. It appears the Dore Treatment Centre are quite willing to tell anyone that they can help them. Even if they have no relevant problems. He also clicked on the "How Much Does It Cost?" link but just got a page with a phone number to ring. The website claims that their method can detect cerebellar developmental delay (CDD) along with the fear inducing statement that "One in 6 people have symptoms of CDD, yet most go undiagnosed". It could be you! It could be your children! How will you know? EoR's glad you asked: "We are able to detect CDD through the various tests we run with new clients". The site claims staggering improvements, including 1700% improvement in writing. The site provides the amazing research that the paediatricians deny.

EoR, however, is extremely wary of a method that can detect some woo illness no matter what your symptoms, and then offer the cure to that imaginary illness for large sums of money.

Update: Information about the Dore Programme in its US incarnation can be found at I Speak of Dreams.

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