Dyslexia – talents and difficulties

5 November 2008

The most important message for Dyslexia Awareness Week must be that dyslexia is a combination of talents and difficulties, all stemmimg from the tendency to utilise visual, multi-dimensional thought. The characteristics are far wider than many people realise and cover far more than just difficulties with reading.

The Davis Dyslexia Association International has a list on their website of the 37 Common Characteristics of dyslexia. For example:

·Excellent long-term memory for experiences, locations, and faces.

·Poor memory for things that have not been experienced.

·Strong sense of justice; emotionally sensitive; strives for perfection.

·High in IQ, yet poor academically.

·Learns best through hands-on experience and visual aids.

·Has poor self-esteem; uses ingenious compensatory strategies.

·Has difficulty telling and managing time, learning sequenced information.

The full list can be found at

These difficulties are compensated by creativity and intuition. For some dyslexic people, the talents naturally outweigh the difficulties, For others, they will excel when taught in a way that suits their thought process, by using hand-on, sensory learning methods.


Today I think only with scents

14 October 2008

I visited KewGardens recently and walked through the SecludedGarden. It has extracts from poems about touch, scent, hearing and sight to illustrate how gardening affects the senses.It is a beautiful place, you should visit it.

I love this one by Edward Thomas. He evokes the images just by writing about the scents!


To-day I think
Only with scents, – scents dead leaves yield,
And bracken, and wild carrot’s seed,
And the square mustard field;

Odours that rise
When the spade wounds the root of tree,
Rose, currant, raspberry, or goutweed,
Rhubarb or celery;

The smoke’s smell, too,
Flowing from where a bonfire burns
The dead, the waste, the dangerous,
And all to sweetness turns.

It is enough
To smell, to crumble the dark earth,
While the robin sings over again
Sad songs of Autumn mirth.

Collected Poems by Edward Thomas is published by Faber & Faber, ISBN: 0-571-11368-0


Dyscalculia and the link with dyslexia

1 October 2008

The University of Western Ontario has produced some interesting research out which finds that many people have both dyslexia and dyscalculia. This study supports the view that dyscalculia stems from a difficulty linking symbols (for example ‘3’) to the meaning (♥ ) and helps clarify why the symptoms of dyslexia and dyscalculia have so many similarities.

Or find out more about the Davis® Maths Mastery Programme here


Ritalin and a drug-free alternative

September 25

I suppose that I should feel pleased to see Ritalin in the headlines again but some how it seems that we are always hearing the same – it is oversubscribed and can have significant side effects.

It would be a more positive news story if some of the non-medication alternatives could be highlighted and discussed.The BBC web-page has comment with a number of people’s personal stories. No-one turns to medication lightly but it seems that too few alternatives are mentioned.

The Davis methods are a drug-free option. They need the child to be motivated and the methods can take time to fully bed down but the end results can be very significant.Click here for more information.


Reclassify dyslexia as a thinking style not a disability

September 23 2008

The Prime Minister was recently petitioned by The Learning People to reclassify dyslexia as a thinking style, not a disability.

Their petition drew attention to the complex nature of dyslexia and its composition as a mixture of talents and difficulties.

They wrote

“There is also mounting evidence that dyslexics can succeed at all academic tasks when instruction is appropriate to the dyslexic thinking style. As a society, our focus needs to be on catering adequately for all thinking styles, not writing some of them off as disabilities. We urge the Government to submit new laws to Parliament to reframe dyslexia as a thinking style, not a disability.”

(Extract from The Learning People petition)

It recognises that not all dyslexics suffer from the negative symptoms and clarifies that

“Where dyslexia has this (adverse) effect on an individual, that person is a disabled person for the purposes of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and thus is entitled to the full protection from discrimination that is provided by the Act, including from discrimination that arises from a failure to make a reasonable adjustment.

The Act requires reasonable adjustments to be made for disabled people not just in employment and access to goods, services, facilities and premises, but also in access to education, the functions of public authorities and private clubs. A disabled person who considers that they have been subject to disability discrimination, including as a consequence of a failure by an employer, service provider or other duty holder to meet their duty of reasonable adjustment, may take enforcement action through civil procedures.”

Sadly the response does not address the learning needs of people with alternative thinking styles, it just supports the existing laws as sufficient.

However, the petition has brought the issue to the attention of the Prime Minister’s office and that can only be positive.


Davis Dyslexia Methods Scoop Award

16 September 2008

I was at the annual meeting of Davis facilitators over the weekend. It was a great opportunity to meet up with colleagues from all over the country and to hear what they have been doing.

We were delighted to hear that the Davis methods have been awarded a Business Achievement award by the Telegraph group. Congratulations to Anna Stephens, in Lincolnshire, who received the award.It is good to see that the different approach to learning, as used by the Davis methods, is being recognised as a successful alternative.


Thank you

12 September 2008

Everyone is back at school now and it seems a fitting time to start up my website.

Thank you to everyone who contributed testimonials or gave their permission to use photos. I am pleased to have so many examples of your clay work on the site and hope you enjoy seeing them on the web too!


This is what some people have said: