Aug 022013

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Q: Could you please tell me more about this Davis method? I would like to learn more about it. Can you give a Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review?

Disclosure: This Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review is based solely upon my understanding of the program based upon the The Gift of Dyslexia book and telephone discussion with one provider.

Also, in my personal understanding of clinically diagnosable dyslexia, it is a neurological, cognitive learning disability where a person lacks phonemic awareness. The person also generally has processing and memory deficits that make reading words difficult.

Throughout this Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review, I will use the word “dyslexia,” because that is the term Ron Davis uses to describe the condition he treats. However, much of what is being treated by the Davis Program itself is more deeply rooted in visual perception or “minds eye” issues. These issues are not the same thing as the learning disability caused by a lack of phonemic awareness that is called dyslexia.

That said, visual perception issues often co-exist with the traditional learning disability called dyslexia that stems from a lack of phonemic awareness. I believe they exist together because the brain biology is closely related for the two conditions.

You’ll also see in this Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review that the program DOES include some components that address the phonological awareness issues in true dyslexia.

This information is important to you because the effectiveness of the Ron Davis Dyslexia Program will depend upon the components of your child’s INDIVIDUAL causes for his reading difficulty. SO, let’s get on with the Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review and talk about the different components.

Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review: Program Introduction

The Ron Davis Dyslexia Program has different components as explained in Ronald Davis’ Book: The Gift of Dyslexia: Why Some of the Smartest People Can’t Read and How They Can Learn.

Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review: Orientation Component

First, the Ron Davis Dyslexia Program has an “orientation” component. This is where your child is taught to focus his “mind’s eye” at a particular orientation point. It is kind of like teaching your child to look at a cube from one side only. He can’t pick it up in his mind or “wander” around all sides of the cube. Anchoring your child’s viewpoint involves teaching your child to keep his ACTUAL point of view rather than visualizing other sides of an object.

Kids with visual-perception based reading problems or dyslexia are often “three dimensional” thinkers. They can visualize all aspects of an object in their minds. They can pick up and turn and object around in their minds without ever touching it.

With the three-dimensional thinking, the letters b,d,p, and q are interchangeable. Kids with dyslexia are able to orient the “object” in any direction. They can turn or flip the letters in their minds and they all become the same! Other similar letters are flipped too. M and W, u and n, s and z, etc.

That is why many kids who have the visual-perceptual issues with their dyslexia have a lot of reversals in their writing. To them, the orientation of the letters doesn’t matter.

Therefore, the Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Orientation piece is about teaching a child to remain focused on the target as it IS. They have to learn to see it as it is, not as it can be seen from some other angle. I don’t know if my explanation makes sense, but I hope it does.

Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review: Cross-body Patterning Component

Second, the Ron Davis Dyslexia Program includes cross-body patterning or doing activities crossing the mid-line of the body. For example, catching a ball with one hand while standing on the opposite foot, then alternating with the other hand and foot.

Cross-body Patterning helps build neural pathways in the brain that help the two hemispheres work together. I will confirm that our neuropsychologist also recommended cross-body patterning as a way to overcome developmental coordination disorder.

In the Ron Davis Dyslexia Program, the cross-body patterning seeks to build better integration of the two hemispheres of the brain. The brain processes involved in three dimensional thinking, recognizing letters, organizing and sequencing for reading, using the language center of the brain, etc. requires good communication between the two halves of the brain. Doing cross-body patterning exercises helps build the connections or communication between the two halves of the brain.

Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review: Clay Letter-work Component

Third, there is the learning with clay aspect. In this activity, your child works systematically through the alphabet. He learns the most-frequently used words by building them out of clay. Your child also learns the associated phonemes for the alphabet until he has achieved mastery of the letters and the words.

Although this clay work does address phonemic awareness to a degree, and it is a great multisensory activity, the clay work does not provide the same level of intense instruction as some other phonemic awareness programs. Less intensity equals slower progress.

For some kids with severe phonological awareness deficits, it is my opinion that better progress could be made with a proven Orton-Gillingham based program for overcoming dyslexia.

Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review: The Book

The Gift of DyslexiaRon Davis Dyslexia Program Review” is a very uplifting book and describes the Davis Method in the back. Although the “mind’s eye focal point” works best for children who have visual perception and attention issues, I also know people for whom the program has not provided any measurable benefit. It might have provided a little benefit, but not enough that they felt it was worthwhile.  Those for whom the program does not seem to work well are those with the deepest deficits in phonemic awareness, working memory, and processing speed.

Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review Summary

Within the Davis Method, the clay work is an excellent multisensory method for working through phonemes and frequent words. However, the program (as provided in the book) is not comprehensive in addressing all of the learning needs for children with the severe learning disability called dyslexia. The clay work portion of the program, along with the cross-body patterning, is well worth the effort for most children who have neurological issues. The program is likely to help children who have classical dyslexia to some degree, but I believe it is most beneficial for those who have letter orientation issues.

We DID use the “minds eye” orientation exercises with our son along with the other activities. I didn’t pay for the Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Provider’s offering. so I don’t know what that experience would be like. Generally speaking, my son did enjoy the activities we implemented.

The clay work was too slow of a process, so it limited the number of letters we could work on each day. Generally speaking, I found the clay work to be an inefficient instructional method that was somewhat messy and took too long. As far as multisensory activities for practicing letters and sounds go, we much preferred other tactile materials such as soap in a pan, barefeet on carpet, large chalk on a traditional chalkboard, etc.

There is actually very little scientific evidence for the effectiveness of the Davis Program… All I could find was Anecdotal evidence provided by the Davis Dyslexia Correction Center. There are stories of the program working for some kids. For those whom the program meets their specific needs, the improvements seem to be dramatic. If interested, feel free to go read Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review “testimonies” of the program’s success.

I’ve not seen the Davis program recommended by psycho-educational evaluators or neuropsychologists in IDA meetings, L.D. Association meetings, Advocacy training, etc. or in any of the many evaluation reports I’ve read.

While the Davis Program may work for your child, it just as likely will not. It really depends upon the individual needs of your child. The question I would ask is, “How much of your child’s issues are centered around “maintaining a focal point” with a need for the types of remediation provided by the program?” 

A Davis provider/evaluator can “evaluate” your child, but the “evaluation” is narrow by industry standards. The evaluation relates primarily to the elements of the Davis Program. It is not a psycho-educational evaluation like you would receive at a neuropsychologist’s office. The Davis provider’s evaluation is primarily to see whether your child’s mind can “wander” around an object, how strong your child’s three-dimensional thinking is, and whether the Davis program itself will help your child with the issues the program addresses. It’s not a substitute for a learning disabilities evaluation.

As for the conclusion of my Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review, I’m neither for, nor against, the Davis Program. If it works for even one child, then that child should have the program. It may or may not be a great program for YOUR child.

My advice would be to go get a comprehensive neuropychological evaluation for your child. If your child’s evaluation results show there are developmental cross-body issues and/or visual-perception issues, then you might want to consider the Ron Davis Dyslexia Program as ONE program in your arsenal of solutions. I personally would not rely on the program as the sole solution unless the only symptom my child has was misorientations of letters and maybe some physical clumsiness.

Keep in mind, the foregoing Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review consists of my perceptions and opinions based upon my limited experience and knowledge of the program. My opinions are subject to change over time. 😉

If you’d like to leave a Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review of your own, feel free to leave a comment below. If you post a review, please be aware you are responsible for your own Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review content. Please remain FACTUAL, respectful, and maintain the privacy of individuals. 😉

Hope this Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review helps in some way!
Best Wishes,

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