Sydney Dyslexia

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What types of Dyslexia are there?


Q: I was recently told by a speech therapist that the Davis Method does not address all types of dyslexia. Is there a kind of dyslexia that the Davis Method cannot correct?

A: Dyslexia can come with a wide variety of symptoms, which are often given different labels. Here are some of the names given to different types of dyslexic symptoms:

Dysphonetic Dyslexia/Dysphonesia/ Phonological Dyslexia/Auditory Dyslexia

These terms are applied when an individual has difficulties with word attack skills, including phonetic segmentation and blending, resulting in poor non-word reading skills and inconsistent spelling.

Dyseidetic Dyslexia/Dyseidesia/ Surface Dyslexia/Visual Dyslexia

These terms are used when the person can sound out words well, but reads very laboriously. Such individuals have difficulty learning to recognize whole words visually, and have problems deciphering words that do not follow regular phonetic rules. Their spelling is also highly phonetic.

Name-Speed Deficits/Semantic Dyslexia/ Dysnomia/Anomia These terms are often used when individuals struggle with tests of rapid automatic naming. These persons may also have difficulty with word retrieval, may hesitate in speech, or substitute the wrong word for what they mean (for example, saying tornado when they mean volcano). These individuals may also use generic words such as “thing” or “place” instead of specific nouns, or may resort to descriptive phrases such as “the eating thing” rather than “spoon” Double Deficit This term may be used when individuals have both the phonological and naming-speed labels.

These terms describe various patterns of symptoms of dyslexia, but do not provide any information about the cause of those symptoms. Davis methods can potentially address and resolve all of those symptoms, because our program provides the tools for learning that any dyslexic child or adult can use, no matter what diagnostic label is attached. However there is one type of dyslexia we may not be able to deal with,which is called “acquired dyslexia.” Acquired dyslexia refers to situations in which an individual who had no previous signs of dyslexia develops symptoms after a traumatic head injury or stroke. In that case, the person’s brain already had well-developed pathways for language and reading, but those pathways were damaged. The Davis Dyslexia Correction Program is focused on developmental dyslexia – the kind that is inborn or developed in early childhood. Our program is based on teaching our clients how to use their natural strengths and talents to overcome areas of weakness. This works well for those who are naturally dyslexic, but may not be as helpful for those whose problems stem from injury or disease later in life. However, some facilitators have reported success working with stroke victims, though the work requires much more effort and takes longer than a typical dyslexia correction program.

by Abigail Marshall (Dyslexia Specialist, author)


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Dyslexic Author, Sally Gardner


Sally Gardner is a famous dyslexic author. Her teachers labelled her “unteachable”, an educational psychologist told her parents she was “word blind.” But when she was fourteen, something “clicked” and Gardner suddenly began devouring books. Now, a very successful British writer and illustrator, she has authored thirty books and won various awards for her work.

In a recent article about her in the British newspaper, The Guardian, Gardner wrote, “At school I was the outsider, the odd one, the word-blind child who didn’t fit in. I lived in my head – a dreamer… a round peg in a square hole who was told I would be lucky to get any qualifications, let alone a job. My education was a comedy of errors… If it hadn’t been for my imagination and my ability to dream… I would have… probably ended up working in a supermarket, which would have been a disaster, because I was no better at maths than I was at reading.”

Gardner went on to say, “Dyslexia is not a disability – it’s a gift. It means that I, and many other dyslexic thinkers can portray the world through images because we think in images. I can build worlds, freeze the frame, walk around and touch. I can read people’s faces, drawings, buildings, landscapes and all things in the visual world more quickly than many of my non-dyslexic friends. I paint with words… Non-dyslexic people often challenge my dyslexia – they don’t believe I write my books, or they think I have a ghost writer. Many dyslexic people also look at me with doubt – how do I do it? A published author can’t possibly be severely dyslexic. Many of them have been made to think there’s no point in trying to be a writer, even if that’s what they passionately want to be. The key is not to listen to what they are told. If I had listened I wouldn’t have become a writer … After all, you can spell every word in the dictionary and know every grammatical rule in the world, but this does not make you a writer, nor does it give you an imagination; an imagination is something quite unique to every individual and it needs to be treasured.”

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Does Dyslexia change without intervention?

Does the condition change over time without any intervention?

I don’t know if the word “condition” is helpful here, as again it suggests that we are dealing with a disease. Yes, there is dis-ease here, but not a pathological one. I have talked to many adults who
have never received any help or intervention during school or after.
What I have found is that they have become masters of home-grown solutions. Often they tell me that they used to be dyslexic, but not anymore. No, they still don’t read much, and if they have to, they read a text several times to fully understand it. Or I have adult clients read a page, almost without a single mistake, but when I ask them what they read, they would tell me an entirely different story. They are almost surprised that I point that out, as normally people wouldn’t notice. So, great storytelling helps. Having a secretary helps. Having a wife who takes care of these “things” helps. Spelling is often an issue, writing as well, but their intuition, intelligence and resilience compensates for many shortcomings. Often intervention is only an option if there is a danger of losing the job, or they are seeking a higher position which requires them to write reports, or they have children who want to have dad read a story to them at night.

Generally, learning problems don’t disappear over time, without any intervention, but more coping strategies will be used and cover up the difficulties.

(from ‘the Right Brain for the Right Time’ by Barbara Hoi)

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This documentary features educators, activists and writers who emphasize the unlimited learning potential of education outside the classroom. Do you think that Class Dismissed will help viewers to finally realize that home schooling can be everything but isolating?

Yes, absolutely. I think the film does a good job of dispelling the myths that surround homeschooling and sheds light on various ways to make it viable as an educational and social model. I want the film to stir up dialogue around the topic of home education, persuade people to re-think their notions of what homeschooling is about and to consider other possibilities for learning outside the classroom. I envision Class Dismissed as a wake up call that education has been in crisis for a long time and it’s time to confront long-standing assumptions about what it means to be educated in the 21st Century.

After watching the film, I want the audience to feel moved to do something, to find out more about the information presented in the film, and to walk away with their hearts and minds opened to the prospect of new possibilities for themselves and their families.

[the film’s director and co-producer Jeremy Stuart]

“Watch out parents of America; this film gives any bullied, unchallenged, misrepresented, creative students all the information to advocate an alternative to a week where they are required to spend 40 hours in desks with an additional 20 dedicated to homework.”

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Working Memory and Dyslexia

My son’s teacher doesn’t believe he is dyslexic. She thinks he has problems with his “working memory.” What does that mean?

Working memory is usually measured by holding a limited amount of words/information in mind for a short period of time. As these tests commonly use letters or numbers, which is confusing and rather meaningless for picture-thinkers, dyslexics often rate very poorly in such tests. Sequence is another area of difficulty for them, so it is not really the working memory that is a problem, but the means of testing. If however the letters or numbers were replaced with real-life objects and if your son is dyslexic (or a picture thinker), then he’d rate very strongly in the area of working memory.

If your son is old enough, approximately eight years or over, there is a simple test to give you a rough idea. If your son is dyslexic, he will most likely think in images. Ask him to create a movie in his head, the complexity of which depends on the age of your son. I usually tell them a story, on how I get to work, asking them to follow my story in their mind.

E.g., I am driving my car into the parking station, where I leave my car, while I am working (make the first picture of the parking lot, what I’d see when I step out of my car), I then have to walk across a lovely green park, where I cross a Japanese-type bridge (make a second picture from the top of the bridge). After that I enter the tall building, where my office is. I press the button to the lift, when the lift door opens, take the third picture. I ride up to the first floor, get out of the lift and see a big square hallway with a peaceful looking Buddha statue (make that the fourth picture). I open the door and hang up my coat in a wardrobe (make the inside of the wardrobe your fifth image). I go up to the reception and greet the secretary (make the reception the sixth picture). The view behind her desk is stunning. Through the window I see the ocean, with big waves (seventh picture). I walk upstairs to my studio (the eight stairs are the eighth picture). I have a big whiteboard in my studio and write something on it (whiteboard is ninth picture). Then I tell them where they sit down on the big wooden desk, there is a lovely big pot-plant next to it. The tenth and last picture is of the pot-plant. Of course pause between the pictures as this takes time to process.

These very complex instructions are usually quite easy for a dyslexic mindset to follow and repeat afterwards. They are great visual aids to pin memories to. If, for example, they had to remember a list of things in the right sequence, this will help greatly.

It could be as simple as remembering mum’s shopping list: 1. milk (see milk spilled on the floor of the parking lot/pic 1); 2. Toast (throw crumbs of bread to the fish over the bridge in the park, pic 2); 3. Sausages (see sausages hanging from the ceiling of the lift, pic 3); 4. Cheese (see the Buddha in the hallway holding a big round cheese); 5. Salad (see big salad heads tumbling out of the wardrobe, pic 5); 6. Carrots (see your secretary eating a carrot, pic 6); 7. Oranges (see oranges floating on the waves in the ocean, pic 7); 8. Apples (see an apple on each of the 8 steps, pic 8); 9. Fish (see me draw a fish on the whiteboard, pic 9); 10: tea (see tea bags hanging off the pot-plant, pic 10).

The funnier the images, the better the memory. There are no wrong ways and the original story can be anything the child can relate to, including their morning routine on the way to school etc.

Even if they only remember six or seven of the ten, it’s a good working memory, believe me! I worked with a lovely nine-year-old girl last week, who was apparently struggling with working memory. I asked her to describe her way to school and pause, whenever I asked her to take a picture of the “freeze frame.” She ended up with ten gorgeous images (garage at home, church across the schoolyard, steps, locker, door, whiteboard, desk, lunchbox, lunch shelter and handball).

She not only recalled all ten “stations” without a problem, but could name the entire shopping list, that I had asked her to integrate into the images, three hours later, when mum picked her up. Mum and I were amazed. So much for a poor working memory!

I have learnt a lot from a guy called Jim Kwik. He stated that there is no such thing as a good or a bad memory, just a trained or untrained one. Unfortunately our schools are only telling us what to learn and not how to.

It is therefore up to us to teach our children how to improve their focus and how to use their minds and bring them into the new age of learning – where they know how to apply their unique talents to remember and recall all the information they need.