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June 21, 2014

Experience with Davis Method of alignment for Dyslexia

Dyslexia is associated with a cognitive disorder related to reading and speech. One of the children I worked with last year appeared to have a form of Dyslexia. Ron Davis who himself had dyslexia has written a book called "The Gift of Dyslexia". He also offers a Davis Dyslexia Correction kit, that is pretty much in line with the book and has additional videos. Ron argues that Dyslexia is a form of disorientation and that it is possible to correct the disorder by creating an orientation framework that the person can knowingly switch to when they feel disoriented or confused.

S is an intelligent and responsible child. He, however, found himself struggling with reading writing and even the simplest algebraic equations. In such situations he either froze or made up his own situation/words, etc. His writing skills were quite weak and he often mixes up letters and their orientation even though he is in 7th grade. He was, however, able to type much quicker and with fewer mistakes than his peers. He took significant time to understand abstract equations, but was able to repeat procedures accurately once he has mastered them. He displayed great patience in what he did.

He noticed that he found himself in a state of confusion sometimes, especially when he felt under stress e.g. during examinations, or encountering large words.

Due to the factors mentioned above his teachers felt that S could have some form of disorientation/dyslexia. The school received materials related to the Dyslexia correction kit and Sanjeev with observation from Kavitha followed the Davis Orientation/Alignment procedure in the kit.

Sanjeev took permission from S to try out a procedure that might help him get clarity when he feels confused or stuck.

Sanjeev then along with S went over the feeling of release (fist closing exercise) to help him be at ease and be capable of remembering what a calm feeling feels like.
To assess which orientation procedure is to be used Sanjeev used the Perceptual Ability Assessment. This was done by visualization of a piece of cake in S hand, giving it characteristics and then viewing it from different vantage points. Sanjeev realized that S was very creative and added much detail to his cake, but the description of shape and cross section from different points of view were not consistent with what is normally expected.

This prompted the use of the Alignment by visualizing yourself standing behind when you are sitting down and creating a mind’s eye that looked from beyond and above you. This process is supposed to help to orient things from the traditional point of view and avoids confusion. Sha seemed comfortable with the process though he mentioned that everything seemed normal like before.

This followed an instruction on responsibility. Sanjeev clarified to S that no one can see that S has hands on his shoulders. In fact if Sanjeev was not in the room he would not even know that these exist. No one can knock them off or even move them an inch. Sanjeev can move S's real hands and that's not in S's control, but not his imaginary hands. Hence, S has sole control and sole responsibility of using his hands when needed. 

S knowingly uses the release technique, but does not seem to knowingly utilize the reorientation procedure that went with the release as often. All S's teachers, however, have seen a marked improvement in his reading and abstraction skills. He seems to have developed a knack of being able to catch himself when he is about to make a mistake and his ability to grasp new procedures is significantly faster. These have also resulted in improved academic achievement in the last year. It is, of course, a question even to us how much the alignment technique contributed to this improvement. 

This was last year. This year we were planning to document various techniques used with S and I was asked to retake the video. I asked S for permission to repeat the steps.

We added two steps after the discussion about responsibility:
1) We added a technique called Fine tuning. In this technique S closed his eyes and balanced on one foot while using his imaginary hands to maintain his balance. This helped fine tune how the hands feel on his shoulders.
2) This time around we put the orientation to test, by reading a text. Initially S only used release as he does and then also used orientation. The reading got significantly better by the third time (though familiarity with the text could also be argued, if we didn't see that he would get stuck at different places each time he read the text). S also felt that this time we did something different and he felt more in control. Interesting.

I'm sharing this video with his permission, in case it helps others with a similar condition.

Note: Much of the video is in Tamil.

1 comment:

Abigail Marshall said...

Thank you for sharing your positive experiences with the Davis method. It is wonderful that you are seeing encouraging results even though it appears that you have only tried a small part of the program with your student.

Keep in mind that the Davis orientation or alignment techniques are only a way of opening the door to allow the student to effectively use the Davis Reading Exercises to build fluency and comprehension, and to use the clay work (Davis Symbol Mastery) to master all of the small word that are stumbling blocks in reading.

When your student reads aloud after being oriented, the hesitations and stumbles are a good sign of which words might be causing disorientation. The alignment technique gives the student more awareness and control to recover disorientation, but by itself it cannot resolve the underlying causes of disorientation.

Unfortunately, if the child does not also complete the process through word mastery, the sources of confusion will remain. It is excellent that you discussed the child's ownership and responsibility to use his Davis tools -- but he may not have the ability to take on that responsibility if he hasn't been given the full set of tools.

I hope that others who see this video will seek help from a licensed Davis facilitator or consider purchasing a kit with instructional videos from Davis. That way they will have good instructions to implement the complete program, providing their student with all of the tools.

I am guessing that you are very busy at your school and probably only have limited time that you can spend one-on-one with each student, as is true at many schools.

So it is wonderful to see that you are able to at least implement part of the Davis program and share your results. I hope your student is motivated to also use the other Davis tools, if he has been given them or you are able to find the time to introduce him to those techniques later on.

-Abigail Marshall
Davis Dyslexia Association International