I was lucky enough to be invited to present at the Learning Ally’s Spotlight on Dyslexia Virtual Conference on June 5, 2020. There were many questions asked that I wasn’t able to answer – so here we go!
Where to find information:
• The Gift of Dyslexia and The Gift of Learning by Ronald D Davis – www.dyslexia.com
• Fish Don’t Climb Trees by Sue Blyth Hall – https://books.friesenpress.com/store/title/119734000009286590/Sue-Blyth-Hall-Fish-Don%27t-Climb-Trees
• Davis Learning Strategies – www.davislearn.com and a NZ school https://www.davislearn.com/docs/Severinsen-2018-NZ-report.pdf
• Journal of Reading Improvement 6 year study and research information https://www.dyslexia.com/research/
• My website www.positivedyslexia.com and The Whole Dyslexic Society www.thewds.org .
Can you tell the difference between verbal and non-verbal thinkers early on?
• Dyslexia is genetic, so first question is to the parents – do you or any of your other family members have dyslexia?
• If a person does not have an internal conversation they tend to speak all their thoughts out loud, and I have noticed that when playing, some small children say everything they are thinking – rather than those who filter their thoughts.
• I noticed that my son had no great desire to crawl, and looking back, maybe that was because he could use his gift of moving his point of perception to satisfy his curiosity – so why move?
• Many children with a 3D learning style enjoy Lego building, blocks, shape sorting toys, puzzles, crafts etc.
• Are they having a challenge with the typical learning instruction?
• Visit the 37 Characteristics of Dyslexia http://positivedyslexia.com/how-to-tell/ Watch out for our series of podcasts to be released in August 2020.
• Dyslexics think at a rate of 32 images per second – we all talk at about 3-4 words per second.
• Are all dyslexics 3D thinkers? I would say yes, but occasionally a child/adult will ‘turn off’ their 3D thinking and the images become 2D or non-existent. I would say all dyslexics prefer non-verbal thought which encompasses the kinesthetic thought. Research seems to point to about 85%.
Questions around Phonetic Reading Instruction and Comprehension
• For children who already have the challenges we visit the pronunciation of the alphabet letters when searching for confusions so they can be removed.
• Children who find their way to our doors have usually had phonetic/phonic reading instruction – in school/at home/with a tutor – and very little progress. For this reason there is no reason to include that type of instruction in our reading program.
• For children starting from Day One, in the Davis Learning Strategies, Spell reading and then Sweep Sweep Spell reading are introduced. They would receive their normal basic phonics instruction as per the school’s curriculum.
• For comprehension, we wait until the children can recognize almost every word at their target grade level before introducing Picture @ Punctuation (the comprehension exercise) because the children are too caught up in the technical side of reading to gain comprehension. However, I use amusing stories as much as possible, (Robert Munsch is perfect) so that when they laugh I know they have understood, rather than having to quiz them. If they want to know what they read; AFTER they have read the sentence, I read it to them, so they can picture the content.
• If they come to an unknown word, and they don’t know the meaning, I facilitate them gaining a picture meaning. If words are sufficient, but for true mastery we use the 3D medium of plasticine clay.
• I never ask them to re-read a text – I always use unseen text because often the children are very good at memorising a well known book; so they are not truly/fully reading – and if they know they should know a word, because they have read it before, and they don’t know it, that would make them feel they had failed.
Word Mastery – how long does it continue?
• 217 abstract words (the sight words – those without an image for the meaning) make up half of any text, so we require students to master them – fill in the blanks. There is no time frame attached to this. They know they will have removed at least ½ the confusions in any text when this is completed.
• They can master any words they like – the spelling list – the glossary of a text book – key words in a project.
• This can continue for ever – I still master a word if I truly need to understand it. Adults who take our programs master the trigger words and any other word they need to fully understand, especially for professional development.
• High School students might benefit from mastering key words, unknown words, being given visual explanations/examples of the information they are required to remember. Hands-on experience is difficult to forget and a 3D meaning, with the spelling of the word, and the pronunciation gives the student something onto which they can ‘hang’ more information.
• The actual printing skill is affected by altered perception. If I am asked to draw a horizontal line and my Mind’s Eye is at 45 degrees to my real eyes, it will be perceived as a vertical line, so there is confusion which typically results in a mistake.
• Written output is affected by the fact that we have an IMAX theatre going on in our heads, with no beginning or end, which is changing rapidly, and yet we are being asked to put that image into words, with correct spelling (which we might not have) and grammar (which we might not understand). If you were in an IMAX theatre and asked to write what you saw, how easy/difficult would that be?
• I have no experience of sign language – other than my son found it easy to learn. I would suggest that it is 3 dimensional, and a great alternative for an additional language.
What about Research?
97% of the attendees resonated with the information I presented.
Besides this link to relevant research https://www.dyslexia.com/research/ I offer this comment from a University Professor:
“The research may eventually catch up with what you do – or it may not if those who conduct it aren’t willing/able to ask the questions that are needed. We have this implacable faith in research and in science, and while good research and science are important, they are nonetheless always constrained by the knowledge and belief systems in which those conducting the research work. When you are way ahead of those systems, it takes time for them to catch up with you and part of that is having people be willing to ask the questions and do the research that allows them to catch up to you.”
This is INCREDIBLE information and have been waiting for the application of the
research. THIS IS IT; this is so interesting! We would likely say a dyslexic student is more of an audio learner, yet she is saying they are actually visual thinkers; so this is why numbers literally dance around in my head???; always makes me sad that people with learning challenges/differences feel “stupid; Holy cow…I am breathless; my mind is blown; it is all about perception isn’t it?! and we do need to think about what the child might be thinking/feeling; I guess you have not truly experienced dyslexia yourself (to a nay sayer); this is great information; fantastic; fabulous; enlightening; incredible; wonderful.
You are so inspiring. THANK you! You’re brilliant! My granddaughter will benefit from this today; absolutely the most beneficial information of the day and you are charming! Thank you so much; thank you so much my daughter now 25 has dyslexia and I wish I had more of this information when she was younger; AMAZING; this is AWESOME; this information is very eye opening; beautiful and eye-opening; fascinating; I’m understanding my own dyslexia better from her information; this is why reading is so tiring – I’m sorting out confusion; best presentation of the day; loved this presentation you had a lot of great things to share; amazing! Thank you so much! We love using the Davis method in our school; thank you! My son went through the Gift of Dyslexia program and it was a game changer for him; This is so helpful to my understanding; thank you for so many wonderful visual images to help my sound thinking brain to have a better understanding of the struggles my students have in our reading programs; I love what you said – a cognitive equal opportunity for all!”