Ron Davis, the author of The Gift of Dyslexia, was himself a severely dyslexic adult. Despite his difficulties, he became a very successful engineer and a sculptor. It was while sculpting in his studio one day, he realised that while he was at his artistic best, he was at his dyslexic worst. This did not agree with what he had been told that dyslexia was due to a structural problem with his brain. In 1981, he opened the Reading Research Council to continue to research his own dyslexia and subsequently develop the Davis Dyslexia Correction Programme.
The basic principles of the Davis approach is that dyslexic strengths and difficulties share the same root. This is the dyslexic thinking-style, which is primarily about thinking in three dimensional pictures rather than words.This can bring extraordinary talents and creativity- dyslexics often excel in areas such as: spatial awareness, strategic planning, music and dancing, engineering, building, drama and role playing, inventing, storytelling, athletic ability, artistic ability and mechanical arts.
But this ability can also be the foundation of a problem- picture thinking does not allow you to think in abstract words and symbols. That explains why many dyslexic children can read some long words almost effortlessly and stumble on the small words like: there, here, why, of, on etc...
There are more than 200 of these words in the English language and many of these words have more than one meaning( some have around 14 or more!). Every time they encounter such a word, they experience mental blankness. As these blanks accumulate, confusion sets in, causing disorientation( leading to distorted perception), as dyslexics struggle to make sense of the two-dimensional words in front of them.This manifests itself as the familiar symptoms of substitutions, reversals, transpositions or omissions when reading or writing letters, words and numerals.
For people who disorientate in learning situations, the threshold for confusion is a key factor in how often they do so. This explains why dyslexic's performance is inconsistent which can cause many misunderstandings, arguments and questions like: 'How it comes you can not read this word today and you could read it quite well yesterday?
Many people do not understand disorientation and, in scenarios like the one above, they would conclude that the child is simply lazy and lacks discipline.
Also, we can use picture- thinking and disorientation to understand why some children have comprehension issues in reading. Secondary school teachers need to be particularly aware of the cause of poor comprehension, because by the time many dyslexic children reach secondary school, they can read reasonably well.This makes it easy to rule out dyslexia because by then the dyslexic child has acquired an 'appropriate for their ability' level of reading.
Here is an example of how the inability to think in small words can affect comprehension. One of my year nine students tried to answer the following question: Find 25% of 35. Instead of only calculating 25 percent of 35 to get 8.75, he also did 35 minus 8.75 to arrive at 26.25. Ultimately, his final answer was incorrect and it would have been very easy for me as his maths teacher to think that he did not understand percentages. In reality, the only thing he did not understand was the meaning of the word 'of'. He misread it for 'off' and, therefore produced the wrong answer.
This example explains why many dyslexic students make many 'silly mistakes'.
This way of thinking is subliminal so dyslexics are unaware that this is what they are doing. They simply know that they are making mistakes and eventually will call themselves stupid, lose their self-esteem, feel confused, frustrated, anxious or inadequate and eventually give up.