A) GD Talk: The Gift of Dyslexia - how to address literacy problems

Learning difficulties seen in a positive light.
Any of the following: School and LEA administration, SEN staff, teachers and parents.

Duration: About 90 minutes.
Cost: Free or a nominal fee

A New Paradigm in Dyslexia

Ron Davis has discovered that behind the learning difficulties are generally gifts waiting to be harnessed.

Ron Davis' story

Dyslexic people are visual, multi-dimensional thinkers. They are intuitive and highly creative, and excel at hands-on learning. Because they think in pictures, it is sometimes hard for them to understand letters, numbers, symbols, and written words.

The Gifted Dyslexics

We can learn to read, write and study efficiently when we use methods geared to our unique learning style.

The cause for dyslexia lies in the tendency to think in pictures. People who primarily think in words (experienced like talking to oneself in the mind) do generally not develop learning difficulties. This is primarily because the teaching methods used in normal schools are designed primarily for the word thinkers.

This tendency to think in pictures is also responsible for a brain which has great processing power than the average person.

The problem
A problem with focus (attention) is the key common factor in all dyslexia related learning difficulties. By addressing this issue successfully, the symptoms of learning difficulties are eliminated, solving the problem once and for all.

The cause
A person’s learning style reflects their preferred thinking style. Thinking styles fall into two main categories – verbal or non-verbal. We all start life as non-verbal thinkers, and sticking to this thinking style puts us at risk of developing special education needs. Conversely, using this thinking style allows us maintain access to the high-speed creative thinking babies and toddlers use to learn. This is the main reason for the gift of dyslexia.

Dyslexia and focus

The solution

There are essentially two steps needed to address all the above special education needs: 

1. Learn how to focus – and how to notice when focus is broken; 

2. Identify and eliminate triggers which break the student’s focus. 

We teach a specific focusing technique, and use plasticine for a multi-sensory learning method to help us eliminate confusion. This allows the non-verbal student to read, spell, and write as well as a verbal thinker within a year – solving the problem for good.
A student, eight years or older needs at least 30 hour one-to-one work followed by ca. 50 hours at home. This ensures that there is no confusion about letters, punctuation marks, words, and mathematical symbols, and thereby we can maximise the dyslexic’s learning potential.

We talk about correcting learning difficulties, as there is in our view nothing to cure. By giving the individual a set of simple effective tools, their learning difficulties are overcome.

Our experience has shown a very high success rate in correcting the above learning difficulties. This is achieved with the Davis correction procedures, explained in detail in Ron Davis’ internationally bestselling book The Gift of Dyslexia and his new book The Gift of Learning.

The Mechanism of Dyslexia 
According to the research by Ronald Davis at the Reading Research Council’s Dyslexia Correction Center, dyslexics view the world very differently from others. You might say they are wired up differently. While most people perceive the world linearly, dyslexics perceive in whole pictures. Also, most people have a fixed point of reference from which they perceive the world outside them and around them. Dyslexic individuals have a peculiar capacity to move the reference point from which they perceive objects.

These differences can be very helpful when examining objects because the dyslexic can view objects from many perspectives very rapidly. However, it is a serious handicap when viewing two-dimensional symbols, such as letters or words. The solution to the problem of reading and writing is to somehow represent the symbol as a picture.

Many words, for example, are easy to picture such as house, car, cat and dog; others, such as a, the, and, or be are far more difficult to picture. Most teachers, even in special education programs, do not know how to help a person visualize the meaning of these words, which is why they have been called sight words - we just need to recognize them on sight. As the dyslexic individual tries to make sense of these symbols, they shift their perspective, or where they view from, and this causes letters on a page to move around, reverse themselves and even to disappear completely.

A series of events occur when a dyslexic individual attempts to read or write as a normal person would:

1) The person encounters an unrecognized word or symbol.

2) The person begins to examine the word from many different points of view. This causes words or letters to reverse, turn upside down or disappear as the person changes their focal point.

3) Incorrect information is collected about the word or object.

4) Mistakes are made in learning or reading.

5) The mistakes cause emotional reactions and frustration.

6) Compulsive solutions are adopted, such as intense concentration.

7) These compulsive solutions can mask the confusion, without addressing the underlying problem - thus inhibiting the learning process and leading to frustration and low self-esteem.

The Davis methods have proven successful in dealing with dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, hyperactivity, ADD, AD/HD and Aspergers syndrome.

Comments on The Gift of Dyslexia lecture given in 2014 by Axel Gudmundsson at Anton Van Wouw school in Pretoria, SA:

"Excellent talk. Thank you. We would like you to become part of South Africa's first and only dyslexia association (RADA)."

- Sandra Stark

"The talk was very interesting and showed me a new perspective on dyslexia and its causes. I think it would be a good idea to perhaps give a seminar at a Speech & Language Therapy conference, since we often treat dyslexia. Thank you for your time and knowledge."

"Thank you so very much. My boys (one dyslexic, one ADD) are making much more sense to me now."

- Hannie Visse

"Thank you so much for your insight, the information that I acquired has shifted my focus entirely and opened my eyes to a new world. Thank you."

- Tamara

"Very good presentation. I still swap b&d (had to think now). I understand better myself and my child."

"A very interesting and fascinating talk – leaving me wanting to know a lot more."

- Robert Thomas Stark, Educational Psychologist

"Thanks, the concepts of orientation and disorientation as applied to the subject was a real eye-opener."

- Francis van Ravenswaay

"Thank you! Most informative. It seems simple to implement. Wish my sons (now 19+24) had it taught to them. Will contact you for further training. Also curious to know what – and if – the Department of Education knows about it."

- Milandre Vlok (lecturer in Early Childhood Education at UNISA)

"I understand my son much better."

"Very interesting!! Feels like I've heard the “tip of the iceberg” and would like to learn more."

- Rejanne Kruger

"This talk reaffirms what I have learnt over 34 years of education as an educator and principal. Thank you!"

"Thank you for an eye-opening talk. Broader understanding of dyslexia. Keep up the good work."