Research: BULL,

Listed in Issue 144

Abstract

BULL, Department of Education, Brunel University, Twickenham, TW1 1PT, UK, leona@mail.com, has carried out a randomized controlled trial of the ‘Sunflower therapy’ for children with dyslexia.

Background

The aim of this study was to determine the clinical and perceived effectiveness of the Sunflower therapy in the treatment of childhood dyslexia.

Methodology

The Sunflower therapy includes Applied Kinesiology, Physical Manipulation, Massage, Homeopathy, Herbal Remedies and Neuro-Linguistic Programming. A multi-centred, randomised controlled trial was undertaken with 70 dyslexic children aged 6-13 years. Children in both groups were assessed using a battery of standardised cognitive, Literacy and self-esteem tests before and after the intervention. Parents of children in the treatment group gave feedback on their experience of the Sunflower therapy. Test scores were compared using the Mann Whitney, and Wilcoxon statistical tests.

Results

While both groups of children improved in some of their test scores over time, there were no statistically significant improvements in cognitive or Literacy test performance associated with the treatment. However, there were statistically significant improvements in academic self-esteem, and reading self-esteem, for the treatment group. The majority of parents (57.13%) felt that the Sunflower therapy was effective in the treatment of learning difficulties.

Conclusion

Further research is required to verify these findings, and should include a control group receiving a dummy treatment to exclude placebo effects.

References

Bull L. Sunflower therapy for children with specific learning difficulties (dyslexia): a randomised, controlled trial. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 13 (1): 15-24, Feb 2007.

Comment

Sunflower Therapy Developer Mark Mathews BSc (Hons) DO MICAK. The research is seriously flawed for a number of reasons. A rebuttal paper laying out or objections to the paper in detail will be published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine in due course. 1. The assessments and reassessments carried out by Miss Bull were only about 3 months apart. The whole Sunflower Therapy course is normally completed over a period of six months to a year; 2. The WISK tests used to evaluate cognitive and literacy changes should be spaced at a minimum of six months apart to be of any statistical significance; these were carried out at a 3-monthly interval; 3. The children involved experienced large measurable changes in their functional neurology and physiology. These changes were brought about using a combination of natural remedies and treatments which build one on another. More than three months is normally required for the full benefits of these treatments to take effect. Miss Bull ignored these findings. The analysis of this data is the subject of another paper which will be published by Dr Janine Leach of Sussex University; 4. All the children involved in the study had already received special educational help and attention; 5. Miss Bull’s paper is not a true assessment of the Sunflower Therapy as such, as none of the children completed the therapy. Some of them had not even started the nutritional part of the program. It is encouraging to note that even though none of them completed the Sunflower Treatment program, significant improvements academic self-esteem and reading self esteem were apparent. Therefore, for the reasons summarized above, Miss Bull’s main conclusions should be regarded as incomplete. Editor’s Comment We look forward to seeing the completed study with all the data to be published in due course.

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