Sydney Dyslexia

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The Thing about Speed Reading

speed reading

Do you ever wonder if you should learn to speed read? It seems a very attractive notion to many dyslexic adults who are able to read, but don’t enjoy it or don’t get enough comprehension after their first reading (usually requiring them to re-read a text at least once or twice). Often it is not that they want to read more but they have to in order to achieve a goal, a degree or a new job.

I liked the article because the notion of speed reading does miss the point of reading. As he (R.Holiday) says so eloquently, no-one tries to speed up sex. Maybe reading isn’t quite in that category of enjoyment – but certainly can be enjoyable – and should be.

Enjoy the article:

How to Learn the Art of Speed Reading

By Ryan Holiday

Caught you looking for a shortcut didn’t I?

Don’t worry, it’s an understandable one. Reading is important. We’re all busy. It’s natural that we’d want to do more of it, more quickly. That’s why we google ‘speed reading’, check out apps that supposedly help us and ask other readers for their “secrets.”

But as I’ve said before, this misses the point. No one tries to have sex faster. Or wants to meditate more efficiently. No one tries to rush a baby out in less than nine months. Reading is supposed to be enjoyable, it’s supposed to take time, insufficient gestation is dangerous. It’s the thing you’re rushing to, not through.

There is no secret. Except there kind of is.

Note that when you add up the time costs of reading lots, quick readers don’t consume information as efficiently as you might think.  They’ve chosen a path with high upfront costs and low marginal costs. “It took me 44 years to read this book” is not a bad answer to many questions about reading speed.People like Shane Parrish and Maria Popova read hundreds of books a year. Famous figures like Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy were voracious readers too. Speed reading is the wrong word for what they do or did—but they are more prolific than most of us. How did they become better and better readers? I’ll let Tyler Cowen tell you:

“The best way to read quickly is to read lots. And lots. And to have started a long time ago. Then maybe you know what is coming in the current book. Reading quickly is often, in a margin-relevant way, close to not reading much at all.”

In other words, it’s a prime example of B.H. Liddell Hart’s old line that sometimes the longest way around is the shortest way home. To get fast, we have to be not fast for a really long time.

In chess, this is called chunking. A grandmaster is able to understand and recognize a position and a pattern with just a simple glance at the board. It is only after years of practice that they can do in seconds what takes others minutes.

It’s why when I want to learn about a topic, I swarm it. The first book I read about the Civil War was tough—I didn’t get any of the names, the places, the narrative of the war. The next one was a little easier, right, because those unfamiliar places were slightly more familiar. By the tenth book, I was finishing the author’s sentences. We get faster at reading because we know more and we know more because we’ve read a lot.

The same goes for any topic. Business books are easier to read when you’ve studied history and psychology—because those are the subjects they often lean on (also the more business books you read, the more you recognize the same handful of anecdotes and examples). History books are more digestible when you’ve read biographies, because you get a sense of the timeframes, the people, the background. The classics are less overwhelming when you’ve read the books based on them.

And this is true in any and all directions. And for more than just books. Envision, for a second, a master practicing a craft that you know is exceedingly difficult. Yet, it looks deceptively effortless. There’s no strain, no struggling. So relaxed. All reflex. No exertion or worry. Just one simple movement after another.

That’s what great readers do. They’ve mastered the art. More directly, they’ve mastered specific topics.

They also know what not to get distracted by, what to ignore and when they’ve come to a dead end. It’s ok to quit books that tread old ground or provide only superficial treatment. When the author is dead wrong or out of date, you have to move on too. This is how you speed up your total reading (by limiting the time you waste) but it won’t help specific books, obviously.

If I pick up a book about physics or a book of poetry tomorrow, it’s going to be slow going. Because I’ll be stopping to look things up on Wikipedia, it will occur to me that I have no idea what the last three pages were about and need to go back, it’s going to be frustrating and I’ll take breaks. There’s no shame in that. In fact, it means I am pushing myself. My mile time will be slower on a course I don’t know well, I’m going to struggle more when I try to lift more weight than I usually do.

The point is: If you want to be a faster reader, you know what you need to do. You need to invest in reading as a skill. Not in courses, not with charlatans or quick fixes, but invest in books and in putting time aside to make it a priority. You need to be willing to do this for a long time. Treat your education as the job that it is.

Think of it the way you’d think of saving for your retirement. The earlier you start and even minor increases in what you put in can have massive impact on the amount you’re eventually able to take out. It’s called compounding returns. That’s how reading works, that’s how knowledge works. It’s why some of the richest people in the world consider books to be among their greatest assets. They recognize those same forces are at play.

As I’ve said before, it’s obvious why people focus on speed reading. They want the results without the work. They want to get rich quick and bristle at the attainable way right in front of them: getting rich slowly. There is and never will be a substitute here. Put the time in, you’ll get the results.
You might even get them faster than you expected.




I had the pleasure of meeting a young genius on Friday. Tom is three years old and looks like a little professor. He’ll turn four in August 2015 and can read, count to 100, knows all the colours, names of all shapes and probably other information we are not even aware of.

His parents contacted me and drove up two hours from the south of Sydney to see me, as he had been diagnosed on the Autistic Spectrum. Mum believes he is hyperlexic and obviously gifted, but the Autism ‘label’ didn’t sit so well with her. (Hyperlexia was initially identified by Silberberg and Silberberg (1967), who defined it as the precocious ability to read words without prior training in learning to read typically before the age of 5)

After an hour of him being very well behaved, sociable, chatting (admittedly mainly about letters, numbers and words), I have to agree with mum: There is much more going on than Autism and although there is nothing wrong with keeping that label, it really just matters what is now done to help him to participate more fully in life.

Most symptoms or traits of an AS client did not apply to Tom (I changed his name): He is not sensitive to sound, light, smell, touch – and just a bit fussy about food (only likes his fruit and vegetables in dried form). He is not obsessive about anything, nor obsessive-compulsive. Although he likes his iPad, he is not fussed when it is taken off him. He interacts with older children and adults, especially if they are interested in reading, letters and numbers. Playing with young children doesn’t really interest him. He voices his opinion (a good sign to see oppositional tendencies, which isn’t always the case with AS)

As I have noticed that he is not always present in his body, I have suggested to the parents to:

1. use the NOIT (Ron Davis device to help people to ‘individuate’), so he will be more present in his body, which will facilitate his toilet training, one area that he is behind and which will help him to be accepted by a pre-school like Montessori or Rudolf Steiner which would be much more suited to his needs. Being ‘individuated’ will also facilitate his awareness of the environment and others in it.

2. see me in 9 week’s time to start adding life concepts that he is not aware of: concepts of self, change, consequence, time, sequence etc. This will be a process to be done in stages of the next year or more, following Tom’s guidance and readiness.

3. use his fascination with letters to integrate all the concepts and also create meaning with words that don’t have obvious pictures (meaning), as I have noticed that almost all his words are the nouns he can visualize, not the prepositions, pronouns etc. that make up  70 % of what we read.

I am looking forward to meeting that lovely family and especially Tom again.

To learn more about ‘hyperlexia’, I have found this article from the Wisconsin Medical Society quite helpful:

Hyperlexia: children who read early—identifying the subtypes

Hyperlexia— precocious reading ability in very young children—can present itself in several ways. In one group some “normal” (neurotypical is the proper term these days) children simply read early; they may be reading at a sixth grade level at age 3 for example with no behavioral or other concerns. Eventually their classmates catch up in reading skills, but such advanced reading at a very early age understandably draws attention. This form of “hyperlexia” is not a disorder; it does not require treatment. These children, usually very bright, go on to have very typical, successful lives. I refer to this group as Hyperlexia I.

A second group of children who read early are some with autistic disorder where the hyperlexia is in fact sometimes viewed as a savant-like “splinter skill” associated with the autism. These children have other signs and symptoms of Autistic Disorder and the early reading is but one facet of that more pervasive disorder. Intervention and treatment in this group is directed at the underlying Autistic Disorder. However the precocious reading ability can itself be a valuable treatment tool for teaching language and social skills and should not be marginalized or disregarded as unimportant or frivolous. I refer to this group as Hyperlexia II. Unfortunately, as I will point out, some clinicians and other specialists hold that when precocious reading ability is present, and when coupled with comprehension, language and social difficulties, it is always part of an autistic spectrum disorder. I do not subscribe to that view.

Instead, there is a third group of children, many of whom have been brought to my attention through “I’ve got a son or daughter who…….” inquiries from the savant syndrome web site at This third group of children who read early present with a startling precocious ability to read, well beyond that expected at the child’s chronological age. The hyperlexia is coupled with an intense fascination with letters or numbers. Yet in spite of the intense preoccupation and ability with words, there are, correspondingly, significant problems in understanding verbal language. Comprehension of that which is masterfully read is often poor, and thinking is concrete and literal. There is difficulty with, and paucity of, abstract thinking. There may be some behaviors and symptoms commonly associated with autism spectrum disorders as well including echolalia (repeating rather than initiating conversation), pronoun reversals, intense need to keep routines (obsession with sameness), auditory or other sensory hypersensitivity, specific intense fears, strong auditory & visual memory, and selective listening with the appearance of suspected deafness. In this group of children these latter “autistic” traits and behaviors are only “autistic-like” however, mirroring those seen in autistic disorder itself. However, in contrast to those in Autistic Disorder, these “autistic-like” symptoms fade over time as the child “outgrows” his or her “autism” as some parents have described that transition. I call this group Hyperlexia III.

The purpose of this posting is to describe these different types of hyperlexia and to point out the necessity for careful differential diagnosis among them because of differing treatment and outcome implications, along with alleviating some of the unnecessary distress and worry in parents when a diagnosis of Autistic Disorder is applied prematurely and in error to some children who read early.

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Nutrition Workshop at the Central Coast

Nutrition info dayFood Consciousness One Day Workshop

I highly recommend a workshop about food consciousness – held by three amazing ladies in Gosford, on

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Food plays such a crucial role in the development of our brains, in the correction of learning problems and generally in the health and well-being of our children – and adults for that matter. Many parents are trying to focus on one aspect of their child’s challenges, often forgetting the bigger picture, or going to the cause of things. Disorientation is one of the root issues of dyslexia and a diet filled with sugar or an addiction to carbohydrates makes it very difficult for any person to come into a state of orientation. A well-focused brain benefits very much from receiving the right ‘fuel’.

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Context Blindness and Concepts of Life

Although Context Blindness is rarely associated with Dyslexia, I have found quite a few children, who present not only with Dyslexia, but also with some of the symptoms and sensitivities of Autism. There is no reason to assign them yet another label, but instead use some of these interesting correction pathways to add to their box of tools.

Some children are more ADHD or ADD than typically dyslexic, in which case their fast processing rate and auditory processing difficulties caused them to miss out on basic life concepts. That causes problems at school, sometimes in Maths too (as these are the pillars for Maths as well) and often behavioural issues. Context Blindness may or may not be one of their challenges. However, the concepts are the same and always add great value and clarity.

Caetextia (Latin for ‘context blindness’) is mainly associated with Autism or Asperger Syndrome. Its proper definition: ‘context blindness’, a chronic disorder manifesting in the inability to adjust behaviours or perception to deal appropriately with interacting variables.

Context blindness can involve different aspects of life and learning. It may be related to physical perception of self and others, to changes, to the environment, to social interactions, perceptions of reality, to taking words literally, to making different judgments for different situations and many other examples where matters can be taken out of context.

It would be incredibly labor-some and downright impossible to ‘correct’ every possible situation that an Autistic individual could get themselves into, where they might encounter a mistake in context.  There is a much easier way and that involves going to the root cause of these misjudgments and challenges.

Ron Davis (himself Autistic and Dyslexic) has found a simple step-by-step program where basic concepts which are mastered in the proper order, can eliminate the effects of Caetextia.

Some examples on how these concepts are directly linked or responsible for these misconceptions:

1. Self: The Concept of ‘the Individual’. For Dyslexia: Most dyslexic children do not know the difference between “I” and “me” and creating self with all its current wisdom, knowledge and understanding. For Autism: An  example of context blindness and Self: John, a bright Asperger man, only ever combed his hair at the front, he had no awareness that there was a back of his head. Seeing things from different angles is one difficulty for context blind individuals. By creating and mastering ‘Self’ in clay, in all aspects of ‘Self’ as a body, a mind and a lifeforce, there is suddenly a 3D picture, an awareness of more than the mirror shows and these ideas are revisited in life situations from all angles until there is certainty around the ‘I’ (the person who is speaking) and the ‘me’ the self that is being interacted with. Not only does John now feel, touch and see the back of his head (on a model of himself, for example), but also every other context that is related to bodily functions.

2. Change: The concept of ‘something becoming something else’ is a huge one for some Dyslexic and most Autistic individuals. It first entertains the idea that time has to be involved, in order to have a ‘before’ and an ‘after’ event. By creating a scenario in clay, where one action is the ’cause’ and the second model is the ‘effect’ of that cause, we open a case of possibilities. Both models are separated by an arrow. (the arrow shows the ‘becoming’, the changing). Many AS children (and adults) see the effect, but living very much in the present moment, they often cannot relate that outcome to something previous. What has caused this?    Mary for example sees her mum crying. (effect). She has only once seen her mum in tears and that was when her grandfather had died. Not knowing why her mother cries this time (cause), she assumes that somebody must have died. But her mum had been cutting onions and that cause was hard to accept for Mary. She also was not aware that somebody can be crying because they are happy or frustrated.

Naturally, the concepts of ‘consequence‘ and ‘time‘ follow afterwards and deepen the experience even further. Over thirty concepts build a very solid foundation for any individual to navigate life with much more clarity and certainty. I have been using the basic six concepts for many dyslexic children as well, as they are often misunderstood or missing.

In the Book ‘Autism and the Seeds of Change’ by Abigail Marshall and Ronald Davis, all concepts are described in detail. Autism and the Seed of Change

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Skills for our children to prosper

“Reading Intelligently

Next on the list would be reading. Learning how to read well is much more than just learning literacy or learning how to interpret clusters of letters. Reading is the skill of consuming information and accessing stories intelligently. By “intelligently,” I mean analytically. On one level, you are taking in data, but on another, you are analyzing.

You can’t read at this higher level unless you have done a great deal of reading as a child. As I said, we encouraged our children to read first by depriving them of live television and videogames and then by finding books they enjoyed reading. It didn’t matter what sort of books, because our goal was to develop the skill of reading at an early age. Later on, we encouraged them to read good books. And eventually, they did.

Depriving your children of TV and video games may seem draconian by today’s standards. But it had a marvellously positive effect on our children. They all became active and voracious readers. And instead of wasting time shooting down aliens, they were living in their imaginations and learning.

Many parents use these modern contrivances to pacify their children. And pacify them they do. Watching TV or playing video games is a passive activity. But reading intelligently is active.

Nature has designed us in such a way that we learn more when we are in active mode. Allowing your children to passively consume most of their “information” is a terrible way to treat them. It’s a form of passive child abuse.”

This segment stems from an interesting article of a parent who ponders of the changing values of raising a child. Parents do seem to move from the urge to foster excellency in their child to not only a more realistic, but also a  more valuable expectancy pattern. They are happy if their child develops kindness, social skills, good manners, happiness, fulfillment and of course fundamental literacy and numeracy skills. Parents know that with basic knowledge and these fundamental character traits most children and young adults will find their way in society, their profession and they will continue to grow and develop. It is not our job as mothers and fathers to make them dependent on us – nor to make our own happiness dependent on their life’s choices.

to read the full article, click on: