Neal Stephens became one of the initial “guinea pigs” of the renowned Dore Program more than a decade ago, and today he wears that distinction with honor.
Stephens, who grew up in Magee, Miss. and later earned a degree from Harvard in economics, serves as director of the Dore Program in Mississippi. He credits the unique learning system for enhancing his academic and professional careers.
“I was one of the first Americans to complete the program back in 2002 as a high school sophomore,” said Stephens. “As I began the Dore Program, I first noticed changes on the basketball court in my ball control, dribbling and movement around the court. As I continued, I retook the ACT, which I had already taken a few times in preparation for college, and my reading score increased enough to greatly impact my composite score.”
Fast forward to the present: “I continue to be a quick learner and am able to comprehend what I read so much more easily than I did before Dore,” said Stephens.
With an office already established in Jackson, Miss., Dore has now expanded to Hattiesburg by opening a new branch inside the Institute for Disability Studies (IDS) at The University of Southern Mississippi. IDS Co-Director Dr. Jane Siders said the partnership with Dore provides an opportunity for Southern Miss to be involved in ground-level research of a treatment procedure that shows tremendous success internationally.
“Success stories are coming in from parents and professionals in England, Australia, South Africa, as well as here in Mississippi,” said Siders. “This partnership will also provide USM students, Hattiesburg families and residents, school districts and other providers with an opportunity to engage in a treatment program – that although not a miracle cure -- is demonstrating excellent outcomes for clients.”
Dore’s mission involves getting to the core of learning difficulties, including poor literacy, concentration, coordination and social skills. The program’s exercises are particularly beneficial to anyone suffering from dyslexia, ADHD, dyspraxia, dysgraphia, autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. However, the program’s benefits also extend to children and adults already functioning at an average or above-average level.
Dore acts to stimulate the cerebellum – what might be referred to as the brain’s “skill development center.” The cerebellum plays a major role in the process of learning by making tasks automatic. An underperforming cerebellum can make tasks that some people take for granted rather difficult. That’s where Dore intervenes.
“The Dore Program is unique in that it focuses on strengthening the cerebellum part of the brain in a highly structured and specific way using individualized physical exercises,” said Dore Mississippi President Joe Stephens. “Most programs don’t involve movement and/or motion to enhance cognitive ability and executive function because it is not widely known how involved the neural processing of the cerebellum is in the learning process.”
The Dore Program was founded by businessman Wynford Dore for his daughter, Susie, who was diagnosed as severely dyslexic and eventually became depressed and suicidal. After being told there was no cure for dyslexia, Wynford hired a team of researchers to investigate Dr. Harold Levinson’s claim that the cerebellum is linked to the types of symptoms Susie was experiencing.
Dr. Roy Rutherford, a friend of Dore’s, suggested that an underdeveloped cerebellum may be the root cause of Susie’s symptoms. The program was subsequently initiated and Dore’s daughter ultimately demonstrated significant cognitive improvement.
Joe Stephens notes that more than 50,000 people worldwide have benefitted from the Dore Program which also has offices in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Taiwan, China and New Zealand. The Jackson office, which opened in 2009, features more than 120 current clients.
The Dore Program is geared toward clients age 7 and up. After receiving an initial, three-hour assessment, clients are presented with a drug-free regimen of physical and mental exercises tailored to their individual needs. The sessions are done in school, the privacy of a client’s home or office for 10 minutes twice a day. Clients are evaluated on their progress every 90 days by Dore instructors with program completion expected in 12-18 months.
IDS staff member Julie Cooke will serve as the Dore Program Specialist in the Hattiesburg office on campus. Cooke completed her own assessment process recently and has already noticed significant results from the exercises.
“I have seen a positive difference in my ability to control my center of gravity and balance in yoga class,” said Cooke. “We are so excited for the opportunity to share this great program with the Hattiesburg community and look forward to the positive impact this partnership will have on students, athletes and schools in this area.”
Those who complete the program assume the designation of “Dore Champion.” Proving that it is never too late to learn, a client in her last 50s finished the program with assistance from the Jackson office.
“We are making a difference in people’s lives that have previously seen nothing but hurdles in front of them almost every day,” said Joe Stephens. “I believe that we can help the large majority of them if we can find a way to get the Dore program to them.”
For more information about the Dore Program, call the Southern Miss Hattiesburg office at 601.266.4849; the Jackson office at 601.326.5550 or visit: www.doreusa.com