Friday, May 11, 2007

Computer Therapy for Dyslexics

Now, treating dyslexia could only be a mouse click away courtesy of a concerned parent and a computer program of his own design.

By: Vanessa Uy

A decade or so ago, personal computers and surfing on the web were seen by conservative right wing Luddites as detrimental to the intellectual development of children. Now, the humble PC might serve as an important tool to cure the most prevalent form of learning disability: dyslexia. Dyslexia on average affects 7% of children around the world. The jury is still out on the exact cause, but current research points out to genetic markers that alter the brain’s biochemistry. This makes dyslexic children’s progress in their reading and writing skills a little more difficult than average.

Dybuster, a multimedia computer program designed to serve as a therapy for children with dyslexia. Originally developed by Markus Gross of ETH Zurich for his own dyslexic child. After achieving good results with his own child, Markus Gross did a “field” trial of Dybuster to a group of kids afflicted with dyslexia. On 20- minute sessions each day at home, the kids did their hands-on trials to the various skill levels of the Dybuster. When the kids go back to school the next day, a follow-up and evaluation of any changes to their rate of learning progress is done.

Dybuster shows statistically good results even after just 3 months of regular use. Positive training effects can be ascribed to the program say’s the educational experts evaluating Dybuster. The kids who tried out Dybuster fell in love with the program’s ease of use and the “fun factor” that it provides. Most of all, the kids are very grateful to the improvement in their reading and writing skills.

The beta version (trial edition) of Dybuster could even run on a relatively old PC on Windows 98, the type of computer commonly donated by aid agencies to schools in poor communities. So Dybuster could help lots of dyslexic children here in the Philippines.


Mike said...

Do you have access to a version of Dybuster in English?

Vanessa said...

No but foreign NGOs who donate computers (used or brand new so long as it works) here in the Philippines to help our educational system provide basic computer literacy should have the English version of Dybuster pre-installed. A German TV channel called DW-TV aired a follow up report about dyslexia that's related to the Dybuster story. The report states about the most recent findings on the research of dyslexia where the researchers found out that dyslexia is genetic. I currently know 16 languages that falls on the Indo-European bracket. I think anyone testing me for dyslexia will have his or her work cut out because sometimes its hard for me to say if I'm dyslexic or just confused. Is it an alif or the letter "I", probably is the most oft quoted statement one can hear from me when "reading" foreign languages. And don't even get me started on what letters -Roman or Cyrillic - should I prefer when reading Serbo - Croat languags unless your ready for a 3 hour lecture.