Davis Attention Mastery Programme

30 hours in person or online - followed by about 30-50 hours at home

When addressing ADD and AD/HD issues we often begin by addressing literacy, as there can be 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 ADHD. If there are maths problems as well, then we might need to add a few days, possibly taking the whole programme to twelve 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.

See more from our Californian colleague Angela about ADHD here.


The Davis approach to ADHD is holistic and non-medical, and it is in fact not compatible with most types of AD/HD medication.

If your child is on medication like Ritalin, then you would only consider a Davis Attention Mastery 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.

The Problem with the Labelling

The labels ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity) describes the negative aspects of the condition - the distractability and how that impedes learning and success in life.

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.

DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria for ADHD

  1. Symptoms and/or behaviors that have persisted at least for 6 months in at leas 2 settings (e.g., school, home, church).

  2. Symptoms have negatively impacted academic, social, and/or occupational functioning.

  3. In patients younger than 17 years, at least 6 symptoms are necessary; in those aged 17 years or over, at least 5 symptoms are necessary.

Source: DSM-5 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition; ADHD: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Inattentive Type Diagnosis Criteria

  • Displays poor listening skills

  • Loses and/or misplaces items needed to complete activities or tasks

  • Sidetracked by external or unimportant stimuli

  • Forgets daily activities

  • Diminished attention span

  • Lacks ability to complete schoolwork and other assignments or to follow

  • Avoids or is disinclined to begin homework or activities requiring concentration

  • Fails to focus on details and/or makes thoughtless mistakes in schoolwork or

Hyperactive/ Impulsive Type Diagnosis Criteria

Hyperactive Symptoms:

  • Squirms when seated or fidgets with feet/hands

  • Marked restlessness that is difficult to control

  • Appears to be driven by “a motor” or is often “on the go”

  • Lacks ability to play and engage in leisure activities in a quiet manner

  • Incapable of staying seated in class

  • Overly talkative

Impulsive Symptoms:

  • Difficulty waiting turn

  • Interrupts or intrudes into conversations and activities of others

  • Impulsively blurts out answers before questions completed

Additional Requirements for Diagnosis

  • Symptoms present prior to age 12 years

  • Symptoms not better accounted for by a different psychiatric disorder (e.g., mood
    disorder, anxiety disorder) and do not occur exclusively during a psychotic disorder
    (e.g., schizophrenia)

  • Symptoms not exclusively a manifestation of oppositional behavior


  1. Predominantly Inattentive Type:

Patient meets inattentive criterion, but not hyperactive/impulse criterion, for the past 6 months

  1. Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive Type:

Patient meets hyperactive/impulse criterion, but not inattentive criterion, for the past 6 months

Symptoms may be classified as mild, moderate, or severe based on symptom severity

  1. Combined Type:

Patient meets both inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive criteria for the past 6 months

The Gift of ADHD

Is Dyslexia and ADHD an asset in sport?

Think of the person you would consider the greatest athlete of all time.

Chances are that this person is on the list below - and most likely dyslexic or ADHD. Two thirds of the athletes on the list have been diagnosed as dyslexic or with ADHD.

The remaining third (the ones who have a question mark next to their label) have all demonstrated some characteristics of ADHD, but not been officially diagnosed.

As an example Lance Armstrong's mother has said that he was a "poster-boy for ADHD" and it might not be far-fetched to expect Usain Bolt - "the fastest man on Earth" to be hyperactive😉

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.

Michael Phelps with 23 Olympic gold medals

(photo: Sports Illustrated)

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.

Dr. Dale Archer, psychiatrist

ADHD is NOT a Disorder

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

ADHD as a Gift

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.

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.

Dr. Dale Archer, psychiatrist

Dyslexia has helped me in my business

The billionaire Richard Branson says dyslexia is at least partially responsible for his success and people with the condition are likely to have “the skills of the future.”

In a blog post, Branson said one of the strengths people with dyslexia often have is a vivid imagination, noting that Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Steve Jobs were all dyslexic.

“My dyslexia has shaped Virgin right from the very beginning and imagination has been the key to many of our successes,” he said.