Monday, March 24, 2008

Fishing for Dyslexics – Are you kidding me?!

Have you seen this sign around town? Just to be clear, I am not poking fun about the language-based learning disability dyslexia itself, which affects so many children and adults. It's this sign.

First, reading letters out of order is one possible (though not universal) manifestation of dyslexia. So who exactly is this sign meant for? Someone who may have trouble processing language, and they’re supposed to read it while driving by? And read and memorize a 10-digit phone number that isn’t 888-888-8888?

And why is Dyslexia in all caps like you’re shouting? I’d think you’d want to go for a more subdued and professional approach.

I wanted to know what was up with these signs – I see them everywhere around Columbia, Maryland – so I Googled them. It turns out they are advertising assessment and therapy for one of the many franchise clinics of the Dyslexia Institutes of America (DIA) (

So the way to attract potential patients is by posting road signs the same way you would advertise an open house in real estate?

If you are considering contacting them, I encourage you to check out their web site and ask for the staff credentials. Why? Here are the requirements to open a franchise (pulled from their own web site

"You do not need highly specialized training and are not required to diagnose or prescribe treatment for your clients. Each Clinic simply have on staff a director, either full or part time who is a certified teacher, preferably (sic) with experience in Special Education. As your service provider, we will prepare all client assessment results and therapy prescriptions for you. Your clinic will interview and test new clients, and administer and monitor their ongoing treatments.”

So at a minimum, they need to hire a part-time teacher, preferably with experience in Special Education. OK…what about training? Here’s what every new franchise receives:

“A two-week training period is provided for all new franchises. During this training you will learn management, operations, marketing, testing, and therapy procedures of the clinic. You will be given hands-on training and observation in therapy procedures and diagnostic testing. Manuals for operating the clinic will be provided for you.”

Wow, a whole two weeks and a manual. So you don't need 5 to 7 years of graduate school or an internship like a clinical psychologist. That's convenient!

If you’d like more concrete information on Dyslexia, here’s the web site for the International Dyslexia Association (IDA):

Let’s just hope someone doesn’t start franchising assessment & treatment clinics for depression and anxiety. I can see the signs now: “Depressed??? Worried??? Pissed??? Call Depression Institutes of America RIGHT NOW before something really bad happens.”


John Hayes said...

I often post about the dyslexia industry's failure to provide any guarantees. I call this policy
" Take the money and run"

I did a personal analysis of several dyslexia interventions and guarantees. When available I actually looked at the data provided. I found one common technique was to say results were guaranteed.If you think about it even negative results are results.

A way to have posite results guaranteed is to give an evaluation test for a base line and then give the same test after intervention to show improvement.
What isn't mentioned is that when you give the same test twice, dyslexics will also score higher when they take the same test again without any intervention.

Weight loss guarantees are also amusing when you think about what they really say. Lose up to 40 pounds in 6 weeks guaranteed. Any weight gain is within the guarantee as it is less than 40 pounds lost. The only way to be outside of the range of the guarantee is to lose more than 40 pounds. I guess if you lost 50 pounds you could ask for your money back as the product did not live up to its guarantee.

I am thinking of putting your post on my website under a heading of buyer beware. I sell visual dyslexia glasses to visual dyslexics that can describe a visual problem that makes reading difficult so I have dyslexics visiting my site,

I have a full money back guarantee for any reason for my product. I suggest that if your car doesn't increase its mileage by 30 miles per gallon when wearing my See Right Dyslexia Glasses they can be returned for a full refund no documentation required.

I think I will also ask the IL board of education if they do indeed accept the Dyslexia Institute of America accessments of dyslexia as stated on their web site considering the low standards they use when selling franchises.

John hayes said...

I did a whois search and their website has been up since jan 28, 2008.

They only paid for 1 year of registration for the domaine.That is usually a sign of short time commitment.

I am not as concerned about their assessment as that is supposed to be done back at the home location with the franchiser only providing the testing.

Of more concern is the franchiser actually doing the therapy with 2 weeks training.

Selling points to franchisers such as 15-20% of people being dyslexic, little competition, and clients staying for 1.5-3 years suggests that economic goals are top priorty.

Program requires home activities suggesting reasons why dyslexic is not seeing much improvement can be blamed on parent.

Improvements are based on taking the same test. This allows for skewed data where much of improvement is due to taking the same test twice and other improvemrnts being due to "therapt teaching to the tests".