Dyslexia / Dysgraphia
Difficulty Reading / Difficulty Writing
Many children diagnosed with ADHD also have difficulty with reading or writing. After ruling out problems with vision, including astigmatism (which can make you miss parts of words), far-sightedness, or other vision problems it is often labeled dyslexia and/or dysgraphia. The child may have difficulty recognizing letters, may write certain letters backwards or even upside down. Other learning disabilities may include difficulties with short term memory or number concepts.
The child could have a subtle eye muscle imbalance. Surgery might be needed, but some children will respond to special eye exercises. A developmental optometrist can help the child learn to "track" across the page better. The child may find it easier to read if a colored plastic sheet is placed on the page, or a piece of cardboard with a long thin "window" cut out is used to allow him to see only one or two lines at a time. A strategy as simple as just laying a ruler or piece of cardboard under the line of words will help.
A child who cannot write easily may be allowed to do his work on the computer, to answer questions orally, or to have a resource teacher write for him. Math and grammar exercises may be pre-written by the teacher or photocopied from the book rather than rewritten on paper. Usually the child with a diagnosis of dysgraphia or dyslexia will qualify for an IEP (individual education plan) and resource room services in school.
When a child goes on the Feingold Program, the first thing to improve is usually behavior; improvement in school performance generally takes longer, and for the child who has fallen behind his grade level, additional help may be needed.
While no research appears to have been done specifically on diet and difficulty reading or writing, parents (and Dr. Feingold) have been aware of the connection for more than 30 years. We cannot say that the diet has been proven to "cure bad handwriting," of course, but it is certainly worth a try - and since these symptoms usually accompany other symptoms (such as ADHD or migraines) likely to respond to diet, we would recommend at least a month on the Stage One diet to see what happens.