A few decades ago, dyslexia was a little known malady. Today, it is much more widely recognized, but most people think of it as having a problem reading. However, dyslexia is a broader, more complicated disorder; it is defined as “a general term for disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols, but that do not affect general intelligence.”
Dyslexia affects more boys than girls, for a total of approximately four percent of children. The cause of the disorder is undetermined, but some people blame environmental causes, including cadmium, aluminum and lead toxicity. In an article in Lancet Neurology, Dr. Philip Landrigan of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York discussed the link between lead, methylmercury, arsenic, PCBs and toluene with learning and behavior issues which includes dyslexia. High concentrations of fluoride in drinking water have also been cited; this chemical has been linked to an IQ decline of an average seven points.
A report was published in Clinical Chemistry in 1981, implicating excessive cadmium in dyslexia; the article also reported observations of the presence of lead with dyslexia. The Feingold Diet was developed when Dr. Ben Feingold found that removing artificial colors from their diet helped children with dyslexia.
Effective Treatments for Dyslexia
Essential Fatty Acids:
Swedish research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food looked at the use of essential fatty acids (EFA) in a treatment plan for dyslexic participants. Researchers supplemented the diet of participants with essential fatty acids for a period of five months. At the end of the study, reading speed had improved by 60 percent, and motoroic-perceptual velocity had improved by 23 percent.
An organization called Intermountain Therapy, among many others, has found that children with dyslexia find it easier to read when they have a companion dog close by; they feel they are reading to the dog, rather than to other people who might judge them and cause them to feel inadequate. According to Intermountain Therapy, children who were part of a 13-month program improved their reading level by two grades, and some increased four grade levels.
Studies are mixed, but some have indicated dyslexia may be masking a vision problem. It is always a good idea to schedule a functional vision test with a behavioral optometrist.
Many people consider homeopathic treatment effective for dyslexia. One commonly used remedy is Lycopodium. Cesium muriaticum and Dirca palustris have also been used with some success.