Sydney Dyslexia

A fine site

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Philosophy at school

I have found this interesting, but almost more interesting that it hasn’t happened on a regular basis and on a broader scale? Isn’t that what life is all about, expressing, articulating, listening, allowing differing opinions, open minds and learning in that way social interactions that are probably not always happening on the home front.

Can only commend the principle of Malabar Public School for that initiative.

“They’re so much more articulate, you see it even when you’re having discussions outside philosophy, and you see it in their writing too, that ability to reason and the skills to back up their arguments,”


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Inspiring Dyslexia talk

Dean Dragonier has done a great job talking about the gifts and challenges of dyslexia, with some startling statistics:

35 % of all dyslexic student’s don’t finish high school

50 % of all adolescents in alcohol or drug rehabilitation are dyslexics and

70 % of young delinquents in juvenile detention centers are dyslexic too.

I was, however, even more shocked when he tells about a study that apparently found that dyslexic individuals (anyone who cannot read and write) feel the same sense of shame as people who engaged in incest! Apart from the fact that this is a weird comparison, it is quite alarming that this is the case and that we allow this to happen to any individual.

Dean also talks about taking part in a ‘learning disability conference’ and the very impressive professors had a ‘simple’ solution to teach dyslexic learners by introducing them to ‘social-emotional learning executive functioning methodology’ – in short sequencing, time management and emotional intelligence.

Well, I think that sequencing and time management are valuable tools to learn and add, but I have rarely met individuals other than dyslexic ones who portray a higher level of emotional intelligence, empathy and social interaction skills.

I’m seriously wondering whose Emotional IQ is needing attention.

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Sydlexia – a Journey

You may remember that a lovely young South African has made a website for me, using my original website name ‘Sydney Dyslexia’ to combine the words to ‘SYDlexia’ (and having the S and D dance and shift across a smiley face, making it DYSlexia or SYDlexia). The site has other neat little features like a variety of colourful backgrounds and an origami option.

Some origami posters can be printed off for free and a video on my website explains how to fold it in a way that the word of the animal is showing after the project is finished, instead of the letters in scrambled order – hence a metaphor for dyslexia.

Well, that little website has been given more attention than I had ever thought possible. Firstly it won gold, silver and bronze metals first in Dubai, then at the New Show in New York and recently in Cannes at the IT awards. As a result I have been getting a couple of clients from Dubai and Singapore, had emails to ask for permission to use the website as a teaching tool at the Chinese University of Hongkong Shenzhen, to print off hundreds of these posters and enter them into ‘origami folding competitions’; I had enquiries from Germany, Italy, Spain and Japan to write about it in magazines, blogs and e-zines.

I am constantly amazed and in awe, and even if I don’t need any more clients, it gives me a pleasure to see that dyslexia is being seen in a more positive light, to serve as an educator rather than a facilitator.

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Insight tonight

Just watching ‘Insight’ tonight, where they show again a program from last year, that has clearly evoked many emotions. What astounded me most was the statistic that showed a staggering 44 % of Australian adults not able to reach a literacy level to fully participate in life. More than 600,000 Australians have reading levels below band one!

Do you know anyone like that? I’d be seriously interested to help.

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Maths Concepts


“The Universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it.”

(Marcus Aruelius)

Recently I had the pleasure of working with a very intelligent and highly gifted adult, a man called Anthony. He is 28 years old and is already working in a senior position of a global tech company, where his creative solutions are valued. Anthony is Dyslexic and had done a Davis Dyslexia correction program a year ago, which helped him greatly. However, he still struggled with Maths, not the complicated formulas, algorithms or algebra – he said to me that he simply doesn’t get basic Mathematics.

For many people that would be hard to understand. How can someone work in a field where arithmetic is an advanced skill, yet Anthony told me that he cannot work out anything simple, like money. He’d give someone a $ 5 bill to pay for a sandwich, which costs $ 3.50 and he would not know how much change he is supposed to get. ‘You learn to hide this fact and hope people don’t take advantage of you, discover your secret or test you in anything basic.’ Anthony paid everything with credit card in order to not be caught out.

It was the concept of ‘change’ that turned his understanding around.

Change is defined as:

“Something becoming something else.”

 In a Math program we choose amounts to represent that something. Initially we talk about the many changes we see or experience in our lives, changes that take place without any interference or those that are consequences of our action or inaction. We talk about nature changing the seasons, the tides, the moon, the aging process and every evolution we may witness, like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. This is a time for questions. “Apart from humans and animals, what else changes, without us doing anything?” You want to make sure that some kind of flora will be named, like a seedling becoming a tree.

The concept of ‘change’ was the first big ‘aha’ moment for Anthony. He had created a small tree  with an arrow next to it, which was pointing to a larger tree to the right: something had become something else. For a moment there was silence, then the realization: “Change doesn’t mean ‘difference’ then?” In his mind, time had never played any role in change. That made so much sense to me – of course he would have had trouble with time, if ‘change’ was merely the difference between the size or the amount of two objects or people.

As soon as this realization had hit, money and getting change was easy to understand and to work out. Change, one of the main pillars of maths, had helped to finish the ‘building’, the understanding and ease around mathematics.

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Difficulties with Maths – Part 2:

FOCUS – Are you with me?

Where are you?’ – Here.

‘What time is it?’ – Now.

‘Who are you?’ – This moment.

These are the words from the final scene of the movie ‘the Peaceful Warrior’. It seems so very simple to be here and focused and present. However, it is not so easy to achieve. Most people who claim to be focused and present most of the time are actually not. How often do you catch yourself thinking about something else, worrying or fantasising about a possible future event, or replaying a past memory? Where are you then? We want our children to pay attention – to be with it.

It starts with our own attention and being there 100 % in the moment with them.

Before I start to work with a child, or anyone for that matter, I always clear my own mind. I breathe deeply and focus on my breathing, I feel how the breath comes into my lungs but at the same time I picture how it flows energetically into my entire body, fills it up and lights up every cell in my body, then releasing all the emotions and toxins that my body doesn’t need with the out-breath. Breathing deeply in through the nose and out through the mouth is one of the first things I teach my clients, too. It’s releasing their tension and enables them to start paying attention. I cannot teach that unless I am living it too. Being there with your child in the present moment is magical, it already creates a bond and synchronises your brain waves.

I then teach them how to be in the body. They slow down, feel the ground under their feet and the soles of their feet where they touch the ground. They feel the chair under their bottom and where it touches their own backside. Does the back of the chair touch the spine? Where are the hands? Are they on their knees, or on the desk in front? Can they close their eyes and still see things? What you can see with your eyes closed can be either an image from memory, a fantasy or anything in between that your imagination conjures up. We call the place where these pictures are seen or created the ‘Mind’s Eye’.

The perfect state for working, for starting any task that requires full attention, is to be aligned in the present time, aware of the body and with the Mind’s Eye just behind and above the head.