To the editor:
I recently read a column by Dr. James Dobson, published in the Journal-World Sept. 24. A writer asked Dr. Dobson why his or her 6-year-old son couldn't read. Dr. Dobson offered a curious reply: Because the child's visual processing areas haven't undergone the process of myelination, a process that speeds the neural impulse.
Dr. Dobson stated that, "Since the visual apparatus in humans is usually the last neural mechanism to be myelinated, your immature child may not have undergone this necessary developmental process by his present age of six years." I checked briefly at my campus library, and found a flood of information to the contrary, briefly:
Girard, Raybaud, and Du Lac published work in 1991 (using MRI) finding that the occipital lobe (which houses visual processing areas) was visibly myelinated on the 15th day of life. This is significantly earlier than 6 years.
I found this, and a great deal more, contrary evidence in a mere 10 minutes searching the Internet and my library. I can only imagine that Dr. Dobson's review of the prolific research investigating the efficacy of speech-language-hearing interventions and classroom inclusion is just as shoddy.
Because of this, I would encourage Dr. Dobson to back his recommendations with a brief citation of published, peer-reviewed research instead of his unreferenced opinion - and I would encourage those seeking advice on matters such as these to consult their own libraries, educational professionals and researchers in the field.