Developmental Therapies - Help, Support & Resources

Developmental Therapies &
Treatment Room

Treatment Room

If you are interested in what Alternative Therapies have to offer people with learning difficulties, such as Dyslexia; Dyscalculia; Dysgraphia; Dyspraxia; ADHD or other (SpLD’s); this part of the website will offer accessible and helpful advice. Whether you are a parent, teacher or other professional there will be something here to interest you.

You will find a selection of therapies below.


If you are interested in what developmental therapies have to offer people with:Dyslexia; Dyscalculia; Dyscalculia; Dyspraxia; ADHD or other Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD’s), whether a parent, teacher or other professional, this part of the website will offer accessible and helpful advice.

I have been working in the education field for over 20 years, and in particular my work at the Swindon Dyslexia Centre has included dealing with thousands of people who were desperately seeking the ‘cure’ for dyslexia.

For many years dyslexia has been under the scrutiny of many different specialists. The result has been a wealth of information, but where do you start? This part of the site looks at Developmental Therapies in relation to Dyslexia; Dyscalculia; Dysgraphia; Dyspraxia and other Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD’s).

I have looked at many different therapies that have at some time claimed to help, alleviate or even ‘cure’ dyslexia and other learning difficulties (besides many other conditions).

Entire books have been dedicated to individual therapies. I only intend to give you a ‘flavour’ of each here. Some of these therapies are very new while others, like Ayurveda, have been around for over 5000 years.

Whilst I have tried to put therapies in the relevant sections, it is sometimes difficult to determine where one method ends and another begins, but the structure used aims to be as helpful and clear as possible.

In my view, one thing that is clear is that good old tried and tested teaching methods should not be replaced, and that alternative approaches should be treated as complementary.

Brain Gym & Dyslexia

There is a school of thought that dyslexia and many specific learning difficulties are due to developmental disorders.

This does not mean that a child has been permanently damaged but that certain early developmental reflexes have not fully matured. These reflexes normally develop spontaneously during a child’s early years.

Poor reflexes may lead to poor co-ordination and motor-control.

Some children with dyslexia or specific learning difficulties have made very good progress by using a developmental therapist.

This section has various developmental therapies, including: BrainGym; Chiropractic; NeuroDevelopmental Delay (NDD); Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP); PhonGraphix; Brain Injury Rehabilitation and Development (BIRD) and more.

Chiropractic & Dyslexia

by Christopher Vickers DC., MICS., FCC.

Some children with dyslexia or specific learning difficulties have made very good progress by using a chiropractic.

Chiropractic is defined as being the science and art of detecting and correcting dysfunctional areas (known in the jargon as subluxatious) of the pelvis, spine and skull (cranium) which cause interference in the normal functioning of the nervous system which these structures either house, support or protect.

As the nervous system is the organiser and regulator of all bodily function, it has become well known within the profession and by patients who have received treatment from chiropractors, that correction of these dysfunctional areas can have far reaching positive effects on many areas of the body.

It is because of this interconnectedness that both practitioners and patients alike have reported beneficial effects with regard to dyslexia/dyspraxia problems in the past purely as a spin off from correction of other areas relating to a particular symptom that a person has presented with.
Chiropractic originated in the USA 1895 with a magnetic healer D Palmer correcting a misaligned vertebra in the spine of a local janitor. This had the effect of curing the deafness he had experienced in one ear for the previous 17 years. Despite opposition from medical authorities, the profession has developed into being the third largest primary health care provider in the western world after medicine and dentistry.

The technique he founded, Neural Organisation Technique (N.O.T.) was a synthesis of both muscle testing (A.K.) as well as S.O.T. and cranial. Early in its development the organisational effect of N.O.T. on the nervous system was recognised to successfully influence the treatment for dyslexia/learning difficulties. A specific deficit in the vestibular (balance) – ocular (visual) reflex system was found to be present in this condition. As a result many chiropractors and then kinesiologists became interested in learning how to address these and other conditions, which have resisted the best efforts of orthodox treatment.

As a result of N.O.T. work which involves stimulating reflex areas on the body in a specific sequence often with the person changing eye function as directed (i.e. eyes open/closed), it was also noted that many other conditions were helped along with the frequently identified ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) which often require more extensive treatment protocols.

These reflex stimulations are thought to clear dysfunctional nerve programmes in the spinal cord and brain. No drugs are ever used in the correction of these conditions.


Neuro Developmental Delay

It is believed that Neuro Developmental Delay (NDD) can help children with dyslexia and other learning difficulties.

Most specific learning difficulties are developmental disorders. This does not mean that there is damage but only that certain early developmental stages have not been perfected before going on to the next stage. A bit like the child who cannot get the hang of long division because he hasn’t fully learned how to do short division – in other words he’s not ready for it. This has become known as Neuro Developmental Delay (NDD).

NDD can help children with dyslexia and the following difficulties:

* Writing difficulties
* Maths and Spatial Problems
* Delayed Speech
* School Phobia
* Immature Behaviour
* Dyslexia
* Co-ordination Problems
* Clumsiness
* Balance Problems
* Language Disorders
* Language Disorders
* Hypersensitivity
* Dyspraxia

Neuro-Linguistic Programming

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) was developed over thirty years ago, by Dr Richard Bandler PhD a mathematician and Dr John Grinder PhD a professor of Linguistics. Dr Bandler and Dr Grinder wanted to symbolise the relationship between the brain, language and the body.
The theory tries to explain the way we process our thoughts to achieve a way of working. It involves:

* Brain – Neuro
* Language – Linguistic
* Body – Programming.

Every baby is born programmed to learn but what is it that makes some of us electricians, cooks or mathematicians? How does our brain make the distinction? NLP help us to make the most of what we have got and teaches us to reach our full potential by tapping into the way each and every one of us learns. We all think, learn and react differently to everyday situations.

One example of how people think differently can be seen if we look at students with dyslexia. Dyslexic people think more and in greater depth than the average person. They use parallel, or lateral thinking, rather than the usual serial thinking, and often reach a solution without using a series of logical steps of serial thought.

When a dyslexic student attempts a math’s problem he will probably be able to reach the answer without being able to write down how he reached it (although he will be able to tell you). This can lead to his work being down-graded because teachers expect the ‘working out’ to be shown. Other students, if they understand the question will have no problem showing exactly how they achieved the answer.

Today NLP is used in nearly every working environment in the world. It can be adapted to meet different situations and environments. It finds out exactly how you learn and helps to improve these instincts – thereby reaching your full potential.

Some children with dyslexia or specific learning difficulties have made very good progress by using a developmental therapist. For more information, click on the various individual methods opposite.

* Encyclopaedia of Systemic NLP by Judith DeLozier & Robert Dilts.


by Dr Diane McGuiness

About The Phono-Graphix® Reading and Spelling Method

Phono-Graphix was developed in 1992 and 1993 by Carmen and Geoffrey McGuinness, an American and an Englishman. The research into the efficacy of the programme was published in the Orton Annals of Dyslexia in 1996 (C. McGuinness, et al, 46. 73-96), with a how to book titled ‘Reading Reflex’ to follow (Free Press, 1998; Penguin, 1999). The theoretical underpinnings of Phono-Graphix are remarkably straightforward and sensible, no doubt encouraging its rapid spread and popularity among teachers, literacy specialists and parents.
Phono-Graphix is based simply on the nature of the English code, the three skills needed to access that code, and teaching these in keeping with the way children learn.

The method is the first to have laid out what the authors call the ‘Nature of the Code’ and bases all lessons upon this as well as the nature of the child as a ‘learner of the code’

The first concept of the nature of the code is that letters are pictures of sounds, In the word please for instance, there are four sounds and each is represented by a sound picture. In designing lessons the Phono-Graphix developers assumed that children can understand this perfectly well drawing examples of the remarkable ability of quite young children to assess visual figures.

The second concept is that sound pictures can be made up of one or more letters So please has four sounds, and four sound pictures p l ea se, two of which are made up of more than one letter. Again the developers of Phono-Graphix fell back on child development research that shows that children reuse figures in the world around them every day, pointing out that no rule is needed to recognize a triangle and a square, or that a triangle on a square is a house, so why would they need a rule to recognize oa as a way to show the sound ‘oe’?

The third concept of the nature of the code according to Phono-Graphix is that it contains variation—most of the sounds can be shown with more than one sound picture such as the various ways to show the sound ‘oe’ in the words boat, slow, most, toe, note, and though. To test their theory that very young children could understand that the code contains variation, Phono-Graphix developers conducted a study in which they showed forty children a picture of a daisy, a lilac and a rose, and when they asked what each was in turn the children quite easily and naturally identified all three as ‘flower’.

Finally, the fourth concept of the nature of the code is that it contains considerable overlap—some of the sound pictures are used to represent more than one sound, such as the ow in the words show and frown. Again the developers of Phono-Graphix devised a test of children’s ability to understand this concept by showing them a picture of a circle and asking them, “What is this?”
and then, “Can you think of anything else it could be?” All of the children easily named two or three things such as: a ball, a circle, the moon, the sun, a dot.

The Phono-Graphix authors did not stop at the nature of the code, but went on to identify three skills that are needed to read and spell a code of this nature.

To use a sound picture code one must be able to access independent sounds within words, to break the word apart into discreet sound units, to ‘segment’ them. Phono-Graphix was the first method to use spatial markers as indicators of ‘where’ to listen for sounds in sequence, rather than temporal directions such as first sound, middle sound, last sound. A specially designed white board is used. The teachers says the word as he slowly brings his finger across the markers indicating where the word will be built. Then he points to the first marker and says, “Listen and tell me what you hear here”.

To use a sound picture code children must be able to push sounds together into words, to ‘blend’ them.

To use a code that contains overlap children must be able to slide sounds in and out of words that contain overlap spellings such as the in ‘brown’ trying sounds on so to speak to see, or ‘hear’ what makes sense. They must be able to do what the Phono-Graphix authors call ‘phoneme manipulation’. Although similar exercises had been used by other methods such as Lindamood-Bell; the authors of Phono-Graphix where the first to carefully lay out for the teacher why we teach this skill, and to devise lessons embedded in the context of why and how we manipulate phonemes when we read.

The Phono-Graphix method has been something of a rebel among traditional p phonics proponents, steering away from sound drills and so called ‘decodable readers’ claiming that children learn best In context and through active discovery.
An example of contextual learning in this method is that the sound to symbol relationship is taught in words rather than in isolation. So when the Phono-Graphix teacher lays out the letters or ‘sound pictures’ c, a, t, runs her fingers across the spatial markers and says, “What sound do you hear here?” the child is expected to identify the sound, not the letter. Only after the sound has been identified or ‘segmented’, does the teacher say, “And do you know which of these is ‘c’? It is through this trial and error, or ‘discovery’ that the code is learned. An example active discovery is the Directed Reading and Mapping Lesson in which children read list of words and create a chart of which words are spelt with one way to show the sound, versus another and another. In this way, the code is ‘discovered’ by the child as he constructs the variation within the code and notices where the code overlaps.

A critical component of this method is ‘error correction’. The authors forward the idea that all new learning takes place in the context of errors, and that when errors don’t occur the child is only practising previously learned material. In each lesson the authors lay out specific error corrections for every possible error that might occur.

Since it’s first mention on the front pages of the Daily Telegraph, Phono-Graphix has been heavily implemented in Britain, with over 8,000 certified teachers, and 40,000 copies of ‘Reading Reflex’ in print. The BBC and Channel 4 have both done segments on the method, and some twenty news articles have helped spread the programmes popularity. What’s on the horizon for Phono-Graphix in Britain? In June of 2005, at a Phono-Graphix international conference in London, the developers launched their BLUEPRINT for Literacy scheme, which makes the method available to LEAs who would wish to devise a school owned programme based on Phono-Graphix. The BLUEPRINT also offers a vehicle for teachers who wish to publish Phono-Graphix based games, stories and workbooks. Released in July of 2005 is a DVD and parent book for teaching reading to babies. That’s right, babies! ‘Imagine Baby Reading’ is a book and DVD for parents who choose not to leave their child’s literacy in the hands of the schools, but opt instead for a very early start. Later this year the Phono-Graphix team is releasing a manual for improving the reading and writing performance of foreign speakers. This will be published with directions in Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, and Spanish. Those interested in learning more about Phono-Graphix can visit the website at

(BIRD) & Dyslexia

Some children with dyslexia or specific learning difficulties have made very good progress by using a developmental therapist, trained in (BIRD).

In 1982, David McGlown, a developmental psychologist, started the Centre for Brain Injury Rehabilitation and Development (BIRD).

McGlown believes that students with poor motor skills and co-ordination have not developed mature reflexes.

The learning disabilities unit in Ipswich assesses students using a full physical test, where their responses, reflexes and co-ordination are tested.

An individual exercise programme is designed for students to do at home each day. These exercises, whilst subtle and precise, help the immature reflexes to fully develop.

Children with dyslexia or specific learning difficulties have made very good progress with this therapy.

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