Sydney Dyslexia

A fine site


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Off Line until March 8

Just letting you know that I am off-line, no-mobile, no-email, no-words…for the next three weeks. The Silence Retreat in the Blue Mountains (Vipassana) starts today – and after ten days, another 10 days Bali should make sure I am whole again, if not holy.

I’ll be back after March 8, 2017 and ready to ‘rock-n-roll’.

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Dyslexia and the Zipf Mystery

And what has Zipf’s Law to do with Dyslexia? For one thing: I have noticed that the 100 most frequent words contain 95 non-picture words/trigger words as we call them. Words such as:

the, be (forms of to be), to, of, and, a, in, that, have, I, it, for, not, on, with, he, as, you, do, at, this, but, his, by, from (in the correct order from 1 – 25).

All these words are potential stumbling blocks for a visual learner, as the meaning may not be clear, may be misunderstood or these words simply get depleted by a mind that needs a ‘real’ word, one that conjures up an image. For example:

“My mother was afraid that it had been too noisy” (mother, afraid, noisy…are the picture words;   my, was, that, it, had, been and too are non-picture words)

The 80/20 law is also a fascinating aspect I had not contemplated before: e.g. 20 % of causes create 80 % of effects; 20 % of the population owns 80 % of land; 20 % of pea-pots contain 80 % of the peas and 20 % of your customers bring in 80 % of your income. Awesome.

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Client wins global invention award

From walking on water after the course in 2014, my client Andrew Babakian is now walking on Cloud 9, after winning a global award on Feb 3, 2017,  for his tech invention, earning his company a huge and lucrative deal – and being told by his professors at UNI that they are now going to be learning from him, not the other way round.

He credits our program for putting him on his track – that may be so, but it is Andrew who brought forth the creative genius that had always been a part of him. He got the confidence to apply himself and know that he has got way more gifts than challenges.

So very proud of you, Andrew!


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Adult Dyslexics

This is just a quick preview of my new logo, which pulls Sydney Dyslexia into one word, which reads ‘dyslexia’ when the first three letters get flipped. If you are dyslexic, you probably have noticed that already.

It will become the marketing and website of a brand new program for adult dyslexics, that will include other aspects that often stand in the way of progress with adults.

Having struggled for many agonizing school years and sometimes being traumatized, bullied or made to feel stupid, adult dyslexics often have many burdens to carry, addictions to overcome and emotional blocks to dissolve.

Therefore the new adult programs will include EFT, meditation, mindfulness and nutrition, all designed to improve their well-being, overall health and anxiety.

Of course literacy is very much a part of that program and will be introduced to a stable foundation of a calm and peaceful mind, that will embrace literacy with much more ease and make learning and memory an integral and fun part of the 5-day program.

Enquire for more information by calling 0402 686 327 (Barbara)


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What c-h-a-n-g-e ???

I was interested in reading an article in Sunday’s Sydney Telegraph about the new magical approach in getting Australia’s dismal Literacy and Numeracy results up into the ‘Finnish range’ (as in Finland being one of the top countries for literacy). Imagine my surprise, when the NEW system will be a radical focus on ‘phonics’ and sounding out words. The literacy testing of our 6-year-olds will be comprised of sounding out real and nonsense words. My question: and what is new about that?

The phonics approach has been their number one tool ever since I have become a dyslexic facilitator over ten years ago – and has not brought them the desired results yet. Wasn’t it Einstein who explained ‘insanity’ as ‘doing the same thing over and over in the same way and expecting a different result’?

The result of the testing will be easy to project: Children who are auditory learners (like most non-dyslexic individuals) will have no problem passing the test – and those who are visual or tactile learners (like most of my dyslexic clients) will have the problems they always have or had in our traditional school environment. What they see as novel and progressive is the young age they ‘catch them’ in order to intervene, bombarding them with phonics training to drill reading and writing into them. The problem is: if it works, with enough hard drill, then the joy of learning is gone. It usually takes away the confidence and love of reading, leaving children feel stupid – and they belong to a group of the most gifted and intelligent beings.

The article points out that the ‘whole word approach’ is one of the fads that didn’t work…and I agree. Unfortunately they don’t seem to consider that there are other ways to engage a creative mind, to help them learn by using their visual, creative, tactile strengths and help them discover, create and master their literacy and numeracy.



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Defiance and how to handle it

a very good response, although in my line of work, there is another aspect to what is often called ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) – and it may be the fact that there is so much discomfort and frustration already going on with learning difficulties, bullying at school and the anxiety that is caused as a result.

These children know deep down that they are not stupid, but cannot show it; their school grades are below their abilities and well meaning teachers and parents often try to pressure them to do things they find too hard, setting them up to reinforce their feelings as failures.

So playing up by being defiant gives them a sense of power back – and it seems even worth the price of getting into trouble.

But how to best help them? Playing the disciplinarian certainly won’t work, but neither will it do to become the ‘doormat’ for bad behaviour.

I have had a lovely client that said exactly that to me (or rather screamed): ‘You are not the boss of me!’ – and I had to fully agree with him. I was not the parent and the reason this child was so upset, was that he had felt ‘set-up’ to come and see me. There was a bribe involved (a puppy, he got before he came) that was continuously used as a pawn in the attempt to keep him somewhere he didn’t want to be. He had not been motivated to do a program, his challenges at school hadn’t reached a point where he was looking for a way out and taking responsibility to change his way of learning to study in a way that suits him.

In that case, I really should have sent the child home and wait for a time when he was ready to be in control himself. The reason we continued was the parent’s assurance that they don’t want to encourage rude behaviour by giving in to their child’s demands. Considering all the challenges and little daily bribes by his grandmother, the program was a success – at least in the short term.

I have found from another experience that a better way would have been to ask a child – no matter what age – if there is anything they would like to change or make easier. And if there is, would they like help. If so, would they accept the help from me? They need to be crucial in the decision making – and then need to be held accountable to that decision. Motivation and responsibility are crucial elements in change – and the change we are seeking is a life-altering experience. No alternative bribes are necessary.