The Gift of Dyslexia
Why Some of the Smartest People Can't Read and How They Can Learn.
This breakthrough book is changing how dyslexia is viewed - and how it is remedied - worldwide. The new revised and expanded edition contains added information to help with the mental techniques for orientation and attention focus, that are the hallmark of the Davis program.
This book is generally stocked in Exclusive Books in South Africa, and you can also buy it online on www.kalahari.com. In the UK, you can buy the book at most major bookstores, as well as on www.amazon.co.uk.
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The red/black book is the UK edition, and the blue one is the American edition. There is not any significant difference between the two books.
Expert Testimonies for the Davis™ Program
"Ron Davis is a revolutionary and profound thinker and has discovered what history will record as one of the great insights in the fields of learning and how the mind works."
- Thom Hartmann, author of Beyond ADD: Hunting for Reasons in the Past and Present, and many other top selling books.
"These [Davis] procedures have an excellent foundation in learning theory. They use each of the senses for learning and provide for concept integration."
- Joan Smith, Ed.D., author of You Don't Have to be Dyslexic
"After hearing so much about what kids labeled 'dyslexic' can't do, it's refreshing to learn from Ron Davis about the gift of dyslexia. Davis helps us reframe the learning abilities of kids who have trouble reading, yet who possess superior visual-spatial understanding, and he provides important clues as to how they can be reached."
- Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D., author of The Myth of the A.D.D. Child and In Their Own Way
The mechanics 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 linear 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, and have are far more difficult to picture. Most teachers, even in special education programs, do not know how to help a person picture these words. 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.
The author describes a series of events that occur when a dyslexic individual attempts to read or write as a normal person would:
the Gift of Dyslexia
- The person encounters an unrecognized word, symbol or object.
- The person begins to examine the object or 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.
- Incorrect information is collected about the word or object.
- Mistakes are made in learning or reading.
- The mistakes cause emotional reactions and frustration.
- Compulsive solutions are adopted, such as intense concentration.
- These compulsive solutions inhibit the learning process and lead to frustration and low self-esteem.
the Gift of Dyslexia is the ability to think multi-dimensionally. While the ability to see in pictures and to change one’s point of focus or reference point is a handicap in reading, it can also be a source of creativity and brilliance.
The author notes that many famous people have been dyslexic. The list includes Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Leonardo daVinci, Walt Disney, Winston Churchill, Hans Christian Anderson, Woodrow Wilson, Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, and many others. The question is whether these individuals succeeded in spite of dyslexia, or in some way because of it.
For example, Albert Einstein said he came up with the theory of relativity because he imagined himself riding on a light wave. This task requires a radical shift of perspective that might be much easier for a dyslexic than someone without the dyslexic trait. Recall that dyslexics can see perspectives that a normal person cannot. According to Ronald Davis, dyslexics also process information much faster than others. Both these traits would be helpful for certain creative endeavors.
Dyslexics often excel as engineers, plumbers, inventors and at crafts or artistic pursuits because they can manipulate objects in their head for the purpose of drawing them, designing them or repairing them.
Since the number of dyslexics is increasing, one wonders whether dyslexia could be an evolutionary change in which new brain functions are manifesting in more and more children. The problem for most dyslexics is they are labeled learning-disabled in school and are so frustrated they often don’t continue their education to develop their abilities.
Teaching dyslexics to read and write
Correcting the symptoms of dyslexia, according to Ronald Davis, involves several steps. At the California Research Center, prospective students are first given a perceptual ability test to rule out other conditions. Most who take the test are found to perceive differently, but are not brain-damaged in any way.
Correction involves explaining to the dyslexic individual how his or her brain works. A series of exercises can help the dyslexic person to 1) make a pictorial representation of all words and symbols, and 2) stabilize the point of reference. These two basic skills are usually mastered in about 30 hours of basic instruction, with a few follow up exercises. After the training, dyslexics often make dramatic progress in reading and writing. Some skip up several grade levels in reading within a few weeks.
The exercises are described in the Gift of Dyslexia. Learning to make pictures out of letters and words is most easily accomplished by modeling letters in clay. This is how Ronald Davis first corrected his own reading problem. Once a letter can be seen in three dimensions, it becomes far more understandable for the dyslexic. This technique is not new. One hundred years ago, Maria Montessori taught children to learn reading at a very young age by a similar method. She cut letters out of various materials so that the children could feel them, handle them and of course picture each letter.
Picturing words is the same process. It is important to picture the difficult words, however, such as a, and, and the. These are the stumbling blocks for dyslexics. We rarely even think about the definitions of these words, much less how to represent them pictorially.
Teaching dyslexics to fix their point of reference is done through a series of visualization exercises. These are also shown in the book. The exercises basically consist of helping one find the on-off switch that causes them to shift perspective. When they learn to control their perspective, words no longer jump around and reverse themselves.
Dyslexia, autism and idiot-savant are terms used to describe mysteries we know little about. Perhaps we need to shift our paradigm, and realize that these are far more than simple learning disabilities or brain damage.
Dyslexic children are not brain-impaired, but they need a different kind of instruction in reading and writing. Their learning disability, frustration and low self-esteem may be preventable and correctable through education that is geared to their multidimensional and pictorial mode of perceiving the world. It is hoped that the Gift of Dyslexia by Ronald Davis will inspire parents and teachers to reconsider their approach to dyslexia.