The Gift of Dyslexia / Ronald D. Davis with Eldon Braun

This review appeared on my previous blog, Rat's Reading.

Sloane asked me to read this book and give him my opinion of it. Basically, Ronald Davis, a dyslexic, is pushing a program to enable dyslexics to be able to read and understand much easier than they could. The program consists basically of two things: change your point of view, and make things with clay. Change you point of view is not the term Davis uses for it. Orientation is his term. Supposedly, one should be conceptualizing oneself at a point behind and just above the head. By consciously orienting oneself to this point, a person can focus on words and numbers in their proper perspective. The second thing is to create models of letters and concepts in clay so that a person masters them.

Cover of The Gift of Dyslexia

Davis posits that dyslexics are visual thinkers, not verbal thinkers. Visual thinkers take in a word, picture, or sentence at once, and try to grok it whole. Verbal thinkers proceed linearly, character by character and word by word. Under his analysis, dyslexics cannot picture words like the in meaning. So when they see them, they become confused, disoriented, and dyslexic. While I don’t doubt that could be the cause for dyslexia, I think Davis’ analysis is not rigorous. Some non-dyslexics may proceed linearly. But I know plenty of people who are not dyslexic and do not need to proceed piece by piece over concepts.

The gift of dyslexia, according to Davis, is the non-linear, holistic thinking. Dyslexics are more creative, more curious, more intuitive, and more insightful than the rest of us schmucks. According to Davis that is. Frankly, I think that’s bunk. Some dyslexics are. Some aren’t. And I’d like to see some actual studies that back up Davis’ proposition.

When I read it, I kept feeling like Davis was trying to sell me something. His Davis Dyslexia Correction® method. Yep, he’s trademarked it. Got himself a whole bunch of counseling centers, all slapped with his name all over them. Prefixed individual parts of these methods with his name and a trademark symbol. And his big business is the training of the trainers. According to the book, the methods in the book are free for all who wish to use them. However, if you find the book isn’t helpful enough, they highly encourage you to see help from a certified and licensed Davis Facilitator or Specialist. All well within his rights.

But the fact that Ronald Davis is selling you something gives him great motive to butter everyone up. There is no way in hell that someone trying to help a dyslexic will be able to succeed merely after reading a book. It will take work and training. Because in the real world, nothing ever goes as smoothly as the textbook cases. Davis’ mission with the book is to try to get the reader to get their training through his business. So he butters everyone up with the thought that dyslexics are latent geniuses just waiting to be freed from the bonds of their difficulties. And every example he produces in the book shows incredible improvement in 2 or 3 days. Not to mention he loves throwing out examples of dyslexics like Einstein. To me, a truly helpful book would present a more unvarnished view. It would help people with the difficulties.

In any case, I have no basis for judging whether or not his methods work, although they probably are helpful. I did a few quick searches on the internet for sites critical of Davis and his methods. I found quite a few. Even further evidence to take his nostrums with a grain of salt.

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