Wednesday, January 16, 2008

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.

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