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Davis Attention Mastery Programme

How do you know if you have ADHD

Angela Gonzales ADHD tips

See more from Angela about ADHD here.
When addressing ADD and AD/HD issues we normally begin by addressing literacy, as there is often an underlying issue with literacy. If there are no problems with literacy, then we generally complete all the literacy work within a day or so, and in that case the AD/HD can be dealt with in about 5 days. If there are issues with literacy, then it is likely to take 8 days to deal with both literacy and ADD (or AD/HD). If there are maths problems as well, then we might need to add a day or two, possibly taking the whole programme to nine or ten days. 
If you wish to explore the Davis solution to your (or your child's) ADD or AD/HD, then the first step would be a Davis Assessment.


The Davis approach to ADD and AD/HD is holistic and non-medical, and it is in fact not compatible with most of the AD/HD medication. If your child is on medication like Ritalin, then you would only consider a Davis AD/HD programme if you wish for your child to come off the medication. This would need to be done in collaboration with the prescribing medical professional, and the Davis self-management tools will be used instead of the medication. The medication needs to be stopped at least a week before the programme, and the plan would be to stay off the medication permanently. It can take a couple of months for the full benefits of the Davis programme to manifest in a permanent change of behaviour (less impulsive, less distracted, more organized), but we generally see some changes immediately within the programme.

D) The Gift of AD/HD lecture

We offer free lectures for schools and other organisations about a range of learning and teaching challenges. If you would like us to come and give a lecture about the Davis view and approach to ADD and AD/HD, please feel free to contact us.

From Forbes Magazine, July 2014

How ADHD Puts Athletes In The Zone

While he has never been formally diagnosed, Dave [former NFL quarterback Dave Krieg], one of the most prolific passers in NFL history, who played for the Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs, Detroit Lions, Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears and the Tennessee Oilers, has been told by most of his associates that he must have ADHD. He clearly exhibits all of the traits, but contrary to current medical opinion, never saw it as a disability. Rather, he feels that ADHD gave him the edge to succeed in a sport where success depends just as much on mental agility as it does on physical ability.

He’s not alone. Michael Phelps [the most decorated Olympian ever], Terry Bradshaw, Pete Rose, Bruce Jenner, Justin Gatlin, Michael Jordan, Andres Torres, Greg Louganis, Chris Kaman, Cammi Granato…the list goes on. With so many medal-winning, record-breaking sprinters, swimmers, pro-ballers and Olympians diagnosed with the condition, there should be an ADHD Sports Hall of Fame.
Many people will find in the above list the person they would consider the greatest athlete of all time. Two thirds of them has been diagnosed as dyslexic or with ADHD. One third of them (the ones who have a question mark next to their label) have demonstrated some characteristics of ADHD, but not been officially diagnosed - for example Lance Armstrong's mother has said that he was a "poster-boy for ADHD".
Here is an interview with a Davis client in Canada:

An interview with a client of Dr Cathy Dodge, a Davis facilitator in Canada

Here is an inspirational TEDx talk by an ADHD student at one of America's leading art and drama colleges.

Dr. Kevin Ross Emery is a sought after leader, innovator, author, teacher, synergetic catalyst, speaker, and an expert in the ADD/HD field. He is not affiliated with Gifted Dyslexic or the Davis approach, but the views he shares in this short interview, are in line with our view.

Looking At ADHD As A Gift!

From Forbes Magazine, May 2014

What do business mogul Sir Richard Branson, Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad, and JetBlue founder David Neeleman, have in common? Well, besides being monumentally successful, they all have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), and, like other entrepreneurs and CEOs, some will even tell you that they are successful largely because of the “diagnosis”, not in spite of it.

The Problem with the Labeling

The labels ADD (attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity) are made to describe the negative aspects of the condition - the distractability and how that impedes learning. Another way to think of exactly the same set of symptoms, is to say that the person is interested in everything and anything they see, rather than the one thing you want them to be interested in at that time. If you look at it this way, you can see that the person’s high level of curiosity is the main quality - and this quality can be a great asset if managed appropriately.

By addressing the issue of focusing, you can greatly reduce the above problems for people of all ages. Early intervention allows you to just about prevent them altogether.

When we work with this kind of client, we first teach them to focus their attention in a very easy way, and then we start to improve their awareness of when they are focused and when not. We also begin to show them the different outcome from engaging in a task focused or distracted. But where we are pretty unique, is in addressing some of the underlying "life skills" issues that are needed for success.

Life Skills Concepts
We have found that certain concepts, which most of us take for granted can be unclear or missing from the mind of an ADD person. These concepts include consequence, time, sequence, and order/disorder. Confusion in these concepts will show up in the behaviour of the ADD person; they may be constantly late due to confusion about time, or constantly in trouble despite putting in huge effort to the contrary, due to confusion about the concept of consequence and the concept of order/disorder. They are likely to be just as puzzled as you are as to why constant reminders and experiences of unplanned and undesired outcomes are not sufficient to shift the behaviour. They may resolve time and time again to change a piece of behaviour, only to find them having "messed up again". Being someone who loves a person like that, we can generally not make sense of the sweet nature and good intentions of the ADD person, coupled with the often destructive behaviour. The good news is that this can be systematically dealt with, step by step. The life skills concepts can be mastered through The Davis symbol mastery, resulting in the person starting to apply these principles in their lives, and being able to identify the behaviour which creates the desired outcome.

Follow-up at home
Included in the five day 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 219 trigger-words, and when this is completed, any eventual dyslexia symptoms are fully corrected. For maths you will need to master the symbols and words used in mathematics, and for behaviour, you can use the symbol mastery to dissect an event or behaviour, and explore what caused it and how we can create an alternative more desired outcome.

Cost and commitment:
 Only your time - and your chosen support person’s. 
Duration: Approximately 50 hours, normally spread over several months.

Mastery versus learning
I hear and I forget.
I see and I remember.
I do and I understand.   
Mastery goes beyond learning. What we traditionally call learning often happens without truly understanding what you have learnt. When a picture thinker learns this way the learning normally doesn’t stick well in their memory. Mastery on the other hand, is for example what you do when you learn to ride a bicycle. When you have mastered the skill of bicycle riding, it will stay with you for the rest of your life. As literacy is a skill we need to aquire for life, this is obviously an important difference. We clearly need to master the letters of the Alphabet as well as the spelling of the most common words in the language.
More than half of all we read - whatever we are reading - is made up of what we call trigger-words. Teachers may recognise them as the high-frequency words, or sight words - so called because their meaning is not easy to visualise, and therefore learners need to recognise them on sight. These are the most common words in the language and we call them trigger-words because they tend to break the focus of a dyslexic person. The reason is that the dyslexic uses the meaning of the word in their thinking process - and the meaning of the trigger-words does not translate easily into a picture. Mastery of the trigger-words consists essentially of discovering their exact meaning and translating that into an image. We use plasticine for making the image clear and specific and then anchor it into our long-term memory using our unique focusing tool.
Training of your support person
By the end of the 30 hour programme, the client has normally already experienced a significant change in self-esteem and the areas that he/she decided to focus on, whether it is reading or spelling.

A support person has received a three hour training in supporting with using the Davis-tools. This now needs to be put to use by doing specific follow-up work which normally takes about 50 hours. If the client decides to commit 1 hour weekly to this work it should be finished within a year.

The follow-up work is imperative to the success of the programme, as the learning difficulty has not been permanently conquered until this work is done. If this work is not done there is a risk of the benefits experienced within the 30 hour one-to-one work may start fading away within a year or two.

When a client is in education, we encourage as much involvement from school as possible - even though the success of the programme does not rely on this.

Symptoms of ADHD
The year 2000 Diagnostic & Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) provides criteria for diagnosing ADHD.
The criteria are presented here in modified form in order to make them more accessible to the general public. They are listed here for information purposes and should be used only by trained health care providers to diagnose or treat ADHD.

DSM-IV Criteria for ADHD 

I. Either A or B:

A. Six or more of the following symptoms of inattention have been present for at least 6 months to a point that is disruptive and inappropriate for developmental level:


  • Often does not give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities.
  • Often has trouble keeping attention on tasks or play activities.
  • Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
  • Often does not follow instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions).
  • Often has trouble organizing activities.
  • Often avoids, dislikes, or doesn’t want to do things that take a lot of mental effort for a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework).
  • Often loses things needed for tasks and activities (e.g. toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools).
  • Is often easily distracted.
  • Is often forgetful in daily activities.

    B. Six or more of the following symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity have been present for at least 6 months to an extent that is disruptive and inappropriate for developmental level:


  • Often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat.
  • Often gets up from seat when remaining in seat is expected.
  • Often runs about or climbs when and where it is not appropriate (adolescents or adults may feel very restless).
  • Often has trouble playing or enjoying leisure activities quietly.
  • Is often "on the go" or often acts as if "driven by a motor".
  • Often talks excessively.


  • Often blurts out answers before questions have been finished.
  • Often has trouble waiting one’s turn.
  • Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games). 

    II. Some symptoms that cause impairment were present before age 7 years. 

    III. Some impairment from the symptoms is present in two or more settings (e.g. at school/work and at home). 

    IV. There must be clear evidence of significant impairment in social, school, or work functioning. 

    V. The symptoms do not happen only during the course of a Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Schizophrenia, or other Psychotic Disorder. The symptoms are not better accounted for by another mental disorder (e.g. Mood Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Dissociative Disorder, or a Personality Disorder). 

    Based on these criteria, three types of ADHD are identified:

    1. ADHD, Combined Type: if both criteria 1A and 1B are met for the past 6 months.

    2. ADHD, Predominantly Inattentive Type: if criterion 1A is met but criterion 1B is not met for the past six months

    3. ADHD, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type: if Criterion 1B is met but Criterion 1A is not met for the past six months.

    American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association, 2000.

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