C) GD Talk: Maths made Easy

Axel Gudmundsson


Axel Gudmundsson, director of Gifted Dyslexic and Capella House School, gives a lecture about dyscalculia (maths problems) seen in a positive light - how they develop, how we can address them in only eight days, and even how we can prevent them. 


A problem with 
focus (attention) is the key common factor in all the following learning difficulties:
  • Dyslexia (reading and spelling problems)
  • Dysgraphia (handwriting problems)
  • Dyscalculia (maths problems)
  • Dyspraxia (balance and co-ordination problems)
  • ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)AD/HD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
  • Asperger’s syndrome (high functioning autism)

By addressing the issue of focusing, you can eliminate any of the above problems for people of all ages. Early intervention allows you to prevent them altogether.

We all know that mathematical ability is layered - one skill is built on top of another. The ability to multiply is based on the ability to add; and adding rests on the ability to count. What many do not realise, is that underlying all mathematics ability is a clear understanding of ten basic concepts. These include consequence (when a change is caused), sequence (how things follow each other) and order (when things are in their proper place, position and condition).


Various Learning Styles
Your learning style is defined by your thinking style; either verbal or non-verbal. We all start life as non-verbal thinkers. Those who remain non-verbal tend to struggle in our current education system, which is largely designed for verbal thinkers. What is really important to know is that this non-verbal thinking also gives them the high-speed processing ability which makes babies and toddlers the fastest learners of all. This is the key reason for the various talents and gifts that often accompany learning difficulties.

When teaching caters properly for both learning styles, difficulties in learning can be greatly reduced or even eliminated altogether.

The Davis Math Mastery Solution
There are essentially two steps needed to address all dyslexia-related difficulties, including dyscalculia:

  1. Learn how to focus, and notice when focus is lost;
  2. Identify and eliminate "triggers" which break focus.

We teach a unique focusing technique and then begin to eliminate what breaks the picture thinker’s focus. We scan through all the knowledge needed for mastering maths, looking for gaps in the student’s understanding.

When gaps are found (confusion) we simply fill in the gaps, using plasticine for effective multi-sensory, heuristic learning (learning through discovery, incorporating all the five senses).

We always begin by addressing literacy, which can take up to 30 hours one-to-one, but if there are no issues to address in the literacy skills, it can take much less time than that. The maths issues are then cleared up through further 20 hours of one-to-one professional intervention, followed by about 20 hours of work at home or in school.


Follow-up at home
Included in the eight-day math programme is the training of a support person of your choice, a three hour review session a couple of months after the initial programme, up to six hours of phone support, and all materials needed for you to follow up the correction at home.
Over the months following the programme, you use the clay at home to master the 219 trigger-words (if literacy is an issue), and when this is completed, the dyslexia part of the problem is fully corrected. For maths you will need to master the symbols and words used in mathematics. Mastery is achieved when we have full clarity about the meaning of a symbol, and have established a permanent link between the three parts of the symbol - the meaning, the shape and the sound. Once this has been achieved, the non-verbal thinker can use the symbol effortlessly and consistently for both thinking and communicating, whether the communication happens through sound (talking) or shape (writing).


The problem with traditional teaching is due to over-emphasising the verbal parts of symbols (shape and sound), and not making a strong enough link to the non-verbal part of the symbol (the meaning). In maths, this can be achieved through using "manipulatives" - concrete objects illustrating mathematical amounts and functions.

We address literacy and handwriting in five days (30 hours), but ADD, ADHD, and maths problems will add about three days to the time needed.  

There are essentially three options available to you in terms of addressing dyslexia using the Davis approach: 

1. Do-it-yourself programme:
You can buy The Gift of Dyslexia book and follow the instructions in the book yourself. This is obviously not as secure in terms of success as working with a professional, but it is a good first step anyway, as it would be a great preparation even if you do not succeed with the DIY work, and decide to move on to one of the other options anyway. The maths work is outlined in Ron Davis's second book, The Gift of Learning

 2. The Gift of Dyslexia workshop:
This is a four-day workshop, which is offered a couple of times a year in the UK and SA. It is designed to give more confidence in applying the procedures from the book. It obviously does not give the same skill and confidence as a professional Davis facilitator, who goes through rigorous training over a year, but a lot of people have reported good success from this option. Note, though that this option does not equip partici with the procedures needed taddress ADD, maths, or handwriting. The next Gift of Dyslexia workshop will be in Cape Town, 4 October.

3. Professional one-to-one Davis programme:
Dyslexia correction takes 30 hours (5 days) - ADD and maths add another three days approximately -  and there is about 50 hours worth of follow-up work you would need to do at home. If you go for this option, the first step would be a Davis assessment, which can be done over Skype if necessary. The cost of the Davis assessment is R 1 400.


Various options for you

There are a number of options available to you, depending on the level of involvement you are prepared to take on, and what you can afford.
We like to think that the Davis programme is actually available to practically anyone, as you are not really restricted by finances. All you need is the book, some plasticine, time and patience. Alternatively, you can sign up for a workshop to give you more confidence in applying the procedures in the book, or book in a professional one-to-one intervention.

We charge a daily rate of £460 in UK.
In South Africa, Axel charges R5,800 per day, and other GD facilitators charge R4,600 per day.

Davis Dyslexia help for all ages

Handwriting correction might take an additional day.

For prices, please see the panel on the top left.