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Cairns: Helping dyslexic people in Wales

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales.

"I am delighted to have won the ballot for the short debate, as research into the benefits or otherwise of the Dore programme should not stop because of the election. I come to this issue from a background of having a particular interest in special educational needs, and wanting the best for children, particularly.

The Dore programme came to my attention through a mutual friend of mine and Scott Quinnell's. Early in January, I was introduced to the Welsh rugby legend for the first time. A mutual friend had brought us together as a result of Scott's hope to make the Dore programme available to all dyslexic pupils in Wales, should they or their parents wish to receive that treatment and support.

He wanted to establish how best to further the case. In tandem with that, the BBC had been following Scott Quinnell for almost 12 months to track his progress in the Dore programme. Scott's interest came from his own experience. Being dyslexic, he was told at school that he was thick and lazy. Sadly, his dyslexia was not identified and diagnosed until he was 21 years old.

However, he also says that he was fortunate, because he had rugby to save him from being cast aside—I think that he used the phrase 'scrap heap'. He told me that he followed the Dore programme, which truly changed his life.

As a result, we discussed how best to pursue it. I felt that a presentation in the Assembly from someone like Scott Quinnell would have an impact, and would draw Assembly Members' attention to the matter. I was delighted that it did.

Unfortunately, the Minister could not be present, but I am grateful that she sent one of her officials along in her place. Before organising the presentation, I also conducted some research of my own. I spoke to journalists and educationalists, and all, in general, were very positive about the experience of the Dore programme.

Hearing of Scott's experience was one of the most moving occasions I have ever had in the Assembly. He talked about his treatment at school and of his family. Both of his children suffer from dyslexia, and he spoke of how he saw his children fall behind exactly as he did, and of how a lack of balance has had a huge impact on his son. I am advised that dyslexia and balance are linked.

One of the most moving parts of his speech was when he said that, as a family, they used to go on activity holidays to Center Parcs, but that they had to walk everywhere because his son could not ride a bicycle. He said that he had played rugby for Wales 53 times, but the proudest moment of his life was when his son, at eight years of age, learned to ride a bicycle after following the Dore programme.

Scott commented on how other forms of treatment and support for dyslexia, which had not been made available to him but had been made available to his son, had not had the sort of impact that they were hoping for. The Dore programme was suggested to him by a rugby colleague who had had similar experiences.

The Dore programme was pioneered by a Welshman, Wynford Dore, following some horrific experience with his daughter. The Dore methodology concentrates on the cerebellum, which is a relatively small part of the brain that affects matters ranging from emotion to memory. The method consists of routine five to 10-minute exercises that are done twice a day, which work to create new neural pathways in the cerebellum. This speeds up the processing of information and assists in learning, language, emotion and motor skills.

In view of Scott's experience following the 12-month programme, which was summarised on television, and in view of the talk that he gave to us and of the research that I had done from educationalists and from journalists, I am surprised and quite shocked by some of the responses that I have come across since that presentation in the Assembly, and since commenting on it on my weblog.

Some people have been positively aggressive in their criticism of the Dore programme. In view of the positive responses and reports that I have heard from whom I assume to be independent individuals, I am quite shocked by the attitude of some people. One individual has even reported me to the Assembly's Committee on Standards of Conduct for proposing and promoting this sort of programme.

I am sure that members of that committee will deal with the matter accordingly, but it is the principle of it and the aggression with which some of the criticisms have been made that are so shocking. They want to know what interest I have in the programme, what financial resources I have put into it, and what the financial outcome is for Scott Quinnell, or for any other proponent.

The point of my raising this debate today is to ask the Minister to consider at least, in the first instance, some sort of independent research. On the face of it, it appears as though there are exceptionally positive outcomes to be had, which are not medically based—that is, they do not involve taking a drug or a tablet. From the evidence that has been presented so far, it appears as though this can really change people's lives in so many ways.

I was pleased to establish from some of the research that I conducted that Anglesey and Gwynedd local education authorities have also conducted some research into the programme. It is fair to assume that the educational psychologists from Anglesey and Gwynedd LEAs would not necessarily have an interest in the programme. In their summary, the representatives said that,

'The pupils who followed the…programme for more than one year showed significant improvement in English reading which was higher than would be expected in a non dyslexic…group of the same age despite no change in the received teaching'.

The educational psychologist said that,

'The conclusion must be that reading and reading related skills improve when a pupil follows the…programme, even though the programme does not address reading or language skills in any way'.

Wynford Dore and Scott Quinnell use the analogy of a bucket, saying that the programme will help to block any holes in the bucket, but that it is then up to the child to fill it by learning to read with the new skills that he or she has developed.

I have no interest in this, other than wanting the best for people. So many confused and angry parents have been in touch with me as a result of the conflicting reports on my blog and on others. Research has been conducted in the United States into the positive effect that this has had on criminals in prison. Wynford Dore has written a book calling this a miracle cure. I am not an academic or a clinician, and I do not necessarily understand all of the questions that have been asked, but surely we can use this opportunity.

There is a possibility here of a Welsh solution that can transform so many people's lives. It has done as much for Scott Quinnell; he says that it has done the same for his children, who are coming to the end of the programme. On the face of it, therefore, it could transform the lives of so many others.

I urge the Minister to establish a research group of sorts to evaluate the outcomes, but to look very closely at the membership of that group to ensure that it does not have any vested interest in a particular outcome. Some dyslexia organisations have an interest in the current arrangements; some do not. It is important that we have a completely objective analysis to develop policy on an all-party basis."

"Yr wyf wrth fy modd o fod wedi ennill y bleidlais ar gyfer y ddadl fer, gan na ddylai gwaith ymchwil ar fanteision neu anfanteision rhaglen Dore ddod i ben oherwydd yr etholiad. Ymdriniaf â'r mater hwn o safbwynt rhywun â diddordeb penodol mewn anghenion addysgol arbennig, ac oherwydd fy mod am sicrhau'r gorau i blant, yn arbennig.

Daeth rhaglen Dore i'm sylw drwy un o'm ffrindiau sydd hefyd yn ffrind i Scott Quinnell. Ddechrau mis Ionawr, fe'm cyflwynwyd i'r arwr rygbi am y tro cyntaf. Yr oedd ffrind i'r ddau ohonom wedi trefnu inni gwrdd o ganlyniad i obaith Scott o sicrhau bod rhaglen Dore ar gael i bob disgybl dyslecsig yng Nghymru, pe bai ef neu ei rieni'n awyddus i gael triniaeth a chymorth. Yr oedd am ganfod y ffordd orau o weithredu ymhellach.

Ar y cyd â hynny, bu'r BBC yn dilyn Scott Quinnell am bron i 12 mis i olrhain ei gynnydd wrth ddilyn rhaglen Dore. Tarddodd diddordeb Scott o'i brofiad ei hun. Ac yntau'n ddyslecsig, dywedwyd wrtho yn yr ysgol ei fod yn dwp ac yn ddiog. Yn anffodus, ni chanfuwyd ei fod yn ddyslecsig tan ei fod yn 21 oed. Fodd bynnag, dywed hefyd iddo fod yn ffodus, oherwydd bod ganddo rygbi i'w achub rhag cael ei daflu o'r neilltu—credaf iddo ddefnyddio'r ymadrodd 'scrap heap'. Dywedodd wrthyf ei fod yn dilyn rhaglen Dore, a newidiodd ei fywyd yn wirioneddol.

O ganlyniad, gwnaethom drafod y ffordd orau o weithredu arni. Credwn y byddai cyflwyniad yn y Cynulliad gan rywun fel Scott Quinnell yn cael effaith, ac y byddai'n tynnu sylw Aelodau'r Cynulliad at y mater. Yr oeddwn wrth fy mod mai dyna a ddigwyddodd.

Yn anffodus, ni allai'r Gweinidog fod yn bresennol, ond yr wyf yn falch iddi anfon un o'i swyddogion yn ei lle. Cyn trefnu'r cyflwyniad, cyflawnais rywfaint o waith ymchwil fy hun. Siaradais â newyddiadurwyr ac addysgwyr, ac yr oedd pawb, ar y cyfan, yn gadarnhaol iawn ynghylch y profiad o raglen Dore.

Yr oedd clywed am brofiad Scott yn un o'r achlysuron mwyaf emosiynol imi erioed ei brofi yn y Cynulliad. Siaradodd am ei driniaeth yn yr ysgol ac am ei deulu. Mae gan ddau o'i blant ddyslecsia, a soniodd am sut y gwelodd ei blant yn cael eu gadael ar ôl yn union fel ef, a sut mae diffyg cydbwysedd wedi effeithio'n enfawr ar ei fab.

Fe'm hysbysir bod cysylltiad rhwng dyslecsia a chydbwysedd. Un o'r rhannau mwyaf emosiynol o'i araith oedd pan ddywedodd eu bod yn arfer mynd ar wyliau gweithgaredd i Center Parcs fel teulu, ond bod yn rhaid iddynt gerdded i bob man am na allai ei fab reidio beic. Dywedodd iddo chwarae rygbi dros Gymru 53 o weithiau, ond mai'r digwyddiad yr oedd yn ymfalchïo fwyaf ynddo oedd pan ddysgodd ei fab, yn wyth mlwydd oed, i reidio beic ar ôl dilyn rhaglen Dore. Dywedodd Scott nad oedd mathau eraill o driniaeth a chymorth ar gyfer dyslecsia, na chafodd ef y cyfle i fanteisio arnynt ond a ddarparwyd i'w fab, wedi cael y math o effaith yr oeddent yn ei obeithio. Awgrymodd cyfaill iddo ym myd rygbi a gafodd brofiadau tebyg y dylai ystyried rhaglen Dore.

Cafodd rhaglen Dore ei harloesi gan Gymro, Wynford Dore, yn dilyn profiad erchyll gyda'i ferch. Mae dull Dore yn canolbwyntio ar y serebelwm, sy'n rhan gymharol fach o'r ymennydd sy'n effeithio ar emosiynau a'r cof ymhlith pethau eraill. Mae'r dull yn cynnwys ymarferion rheolaidd pump i ddeng munud o hyd a wneir ddwywaith y dydd, sy'n gweithio i greu llwybrau nerfol newydd yn y serebelwm. Mae hyn yn cyflymu'r broses o brosesu gwybodaeth ac o gymorth gyda sgiliau dysgu, iaith, emosiwn a moduro.

Gan ystyried profiad Scott o ddilyn y rhaglen 12 mis, a grynhowyd ar y teledu, a chan ystyried y cyflwyniad a wnaeth inni a'r gwaith ymchwil a wneuthum i gydag addysgwyr a newyddiadurwyr, yr wyf yn rhyfeddu at rai o'r ymatebion y deuthum ar eu traws ers y cyflwyniad hwnnw yn y Cynulliad, ac ers gwneud sylwadau arno ar fy we-log ac maent yn peri cryn syndod i mi. Mae rhai pobl wedi bod yn gwbl ymosodol yn eu beirniadaeth o raglen Dore.

O gofio'r ymatebion a'r adroddiadau cadarnhaol yr wyf wedi'u clywed gan bobl y tybiaf eu bod yn unigolion annibynnol, yr wyf yn synnu i raddau at agwedd rhai pobl. Mae un unigolyn hyd yn oed wedi hysbysu Pwyllgor y Cynulliad ar Safonau ac Ymddygiad o'r ffaith fy mod wedi cynnig y math hwn o raglen ac wedi ei hyrwyddo. Yr wyf yn siwr y bydd aelodau'r pwyllgor hwnnw yn ymdrin â'r mater yn unol â hynny, ond egwyddor y peth a natur ymosodol rhai o'r beirniadaethau sy'n fy synnu fwyaf. Maent am wybod pa fuddiant sydd gennyf yn y rhaglen, pa adnoddau ariannol yr wyf wedi'u rhoi iddi, a beth yw'r canlyniad ariannol i Scott Quinnell, neu i unrhyw gynigydd arall.

Fy mwriad wrth godi'r ddadl hon heddiw yw gofyn i'r Gweinidog ystyried, yn y lle cyntaf, ryw fath o waith ymchwil annibynnol, o leiaf. Ar yr wyneb, ymddengys fel pe bai canlyniadau cadarnhaol iawn i'w cael yn sgîl y rhaglen hon, nad oes iddynt sail feddygol—hynny yw, nid ydynt yn cynnwys cymryd cyffuriau neu dabledi. O'r dystiolaeth a gyflwynwyd hyd yma, mae'n debyg y gall hyn newid bywydau pobl yn wirioneddol mewn cymaint o ffyrdd.

Yr oeddwn yn falch o ganfod o rywfaint o waith ymchwil a gyflawnais fod awdurdodau addysg lleol Ynys Môn a Gwynedd hefyd wedi cyflawni gwaith ymchwil ar y rhaglen. Mae'n deg tybio na fyddai gan seicolegwyr addysgol o Awdurdodau Addysg Lleol Ynys Môn a Gwynedd ddiddordeb o reidrwydd yn y rhaglen. Yn eu crynodeb, dywedodd y cynrychiolwyr,

Dangosodd y disgyblion a ddilynodd y rhaglen... am fwy na blwyddyn welliant sylweddol o ran eu gallu i ddarllen Saesneg a oedd yn uwch na'r disgwyl mewn grwp.... o'r un oedran nad yw'n ddyslecsig er gwaethaf y ffaith nad oedd unrhyw newid yn y math o addysgu a gawsant.

Dywedodd y seicolegydd addysgol,

Rhaid dod i'r casgliad bod darllen a sgiliau sy'n gysylltiedig â darllen yn gwella pan fydd disgybl yn dilyn y rhaglen..., er nad yw'r rhaglen yn mynd i'r afael â sgiliau darllen neu iaith mewn unrhyw ffordd.

Mae Wynford Dore a Scott Quinnell yn cymharu hyn â'r syniad o fwced, gan ddweud y bydd y rhaglen yn helpu i flocio unrhyw dyllau yn y fwced, ond mai cyfrifoldeb y plentyn yw ei llenwi drwy ddysgu i ddarllen gyda'r sgiliau newydd y mae ef neu hi wedi eu datblygu.

Nid oes gennyf unrhyw ddiddordeb yn hyn, heblaw am fod eisiau'r gorau i bobl. Mae cymaint o rieni dryslyd a blin wedi cysylltu â mi o ganlyniad i adroddiadau croes ar fy mlog ac ar flogiau pobl eraill. Cyflawnwyd gwaith ymchwil yn Unol Daleithiau America ar yr effaith gadarnhaol y mae hyn wedi'i chael ar droseddwyr yn y carchar.

Mae Wynford Dore wedi ysgrifennu llyfr yn galw hyn yn driniaeth wyrthiol. Nid academydd na chlinigwr mohonof, ac nid wyf o reidrwydd yn deall yr holl gwestiynau a ofynnwyd, ond oni allwn fanteisio ar y cyfle hwn. Mae posibilrwydd yma o ddatrysiad yng Nghymru a all drawsnewid bywydau cymaint o bobl. Mae wedi gwneud hynny i Scott Quinnell; dywed ei fod wedi gwneud yr un fath i'w blant, sy'n cyrraedd diwedd y rhaglen. Ar yr wyneb, felly, gallai drawsnewid bywydau cymaint o bobl eraill.

Anogaf y Gweinidog i sefydlu grwp ymchwil o ryw fath i werthuso'r canlyniadau, ond i edrych yn agos iawn ar aelodau'r grwp hwnnw i sicrhau nad oes ganddo fuddiant personol mewn canlyniad penodol. Mae gan rai sefydliadau dyslecsia fuddiant yn y trefniadau presennol; nid oes gan eraill. Mae'n bwysig ein bod yn cynnal dadansoddiad cwbl wrthrychol i ddatblygu polisi ar sail hollbleidiol."

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