What Is Dyslexia?

The origin of the word Dyslexia dates back to the 1880’s in Greek:

dys: “bad/abnormal/difficult”  and lexis “word”.

Identifying signs of dyslexia can be a difficult task, but they are usually tell-tale causes of the child’s overall learning pattern. As dyslexia is mainly associated with difficulty to read, it cannot be reliably tested until the child begins with reading, usually between ages 4 and 8. (Abigail Marshall 2004: Parent’s guide to children with Dyslexia).

The main role-players in identifying dyslexia in children are Parents, Teachers, Speech Therapists, and … the children themselves!

Let’s start sharing knowledge:

  • Academically falling behind his grade level, despite appearing bright, highly intelligent and articulate?
  • Does not like reading?
  • Experiencing problems with spelling?
  • Knows his/her subject facts very well, but fails written tests?
  • Labeled as lazy, slow, careless, not motivated, isn’t “applying” him/herself and have a low self-esteem?
  • Frequently getting demerits for homework not done?
  • Experiencing difficulty to sit or stand still, seems not ever to give full attention, except in tasks of personal interest (like TV games or cartoons)?
  • Is taking mood stabilizing medications (Ritalin and others) or in a worst case scenario, already taking anti-depressants?

Below are 37 identified visible traits and behaviours of the dyslexics.

2-DSC_6782Most dyslexics will exhibit about 10 or more of the following traits and behaviors. These characteristics can vary from day-to-day or minute-to-minute. The most consistent thing about dyslexics is their inconsistency.


  1. Appears bright, highly intelligent but unable to read, write, spell
  2. Labeled lazy
  3. Isn’t “behind enough” to get attention
  4. High IQ, tests well orally, not written
  5. Feels Dumb; poor self-esteem
  6. Talented in arts, sports, engineering, business
  7. Zone out/daydream often
  8. Difficulty sustaining attention, hyper, daydream
  9. Learns best via hands-on, visual aids

Vision, reading, spelling:

10. Dizziness, headaches while reading
11. Confused by letters, numbers, words
12. Reading/writing shows repetitions, omissions
13. Feel or see non-existent movement when reading, writing
14. Difficulty with vision, yet eyes are good
15. Extremely keen sighted and observant, or lacks depth perception/peripheral vision
16. Reads/re-reads with little comprehension
17. Spells phonetically and inconsistently

Hearing and Speech:

18. Has extended hearing, hears things not apparent to others, easily distracted by sounds
19. Difficulty putting thoughts into words, speaks halted, incomplete sentences

Writing and Motor Skills:

20. Trouble with writing or copying, pencil grip, bad handwriting
21. Clumsy, uncoordinated, poor at ball sports
22. Can be ambidextrous, confused L-R

Math and Time Management:

23. Difficulty telling/managing time, sequential info/orders
24. Math- dependence on finger counting
25. Difficulty counting objects, dealing with money
26. Ok with arithmetic, but fails words problems/algebra or higher Math

Memory and cognition

27. Excellent long term memory
28. Poor memory for sequences
29. Thinks mainly with images and feeling

Behaviours, Health Development and personality:

30. Extremely disorderly, or compulsive orderly
31. Class clown, trouble maker or too quiet
32. Early or late developmental stages
33. Prone to ear infections, sensitive to foods
34. Extra light of deep sleeper
35. Extremely high or low tolerance for pain
36. Strong sense of justice, emotionally sensitive
37. Mistakes and symptoms increase with confusions, time pressure, emotional stress or poor health.

From the website Copyright ©DDAI reprinted with permission.

davis(Picture of Ron Davis taken with permission from

Ron Davis, author of The Gift of Dyslexia, was himself a severely dyslexic adult. He figured out how to ‘correct’ his own dyslexia before he ever came up with any theories about dyslexia. Until the age of 38, he had always accepgift of dyslexiated the official diagnosis of the experts as “mentally retarded.” Although he had a measured IQ of 160; he was told that he would never be able to read or write without an arduous struggle., and that there was something wrong with his brain. Which of course was not true!

Then he noticed that sometimes his symptoms of dyslexia got worse. Being an engineer by training, it occurred to him that if he could figure out how to make his dyslexia worse, he may somehow be able to figure out how to make his dyslexia better. His first clue was when he was at his artistic best, he was at his dyslexic worst. Then he discovered that many of his artistic friends were also dyslexic and through a trial-and-error approach he developed a reliable method for helping others to overcome their own dyslexia. About a year later, in 1982, he opened his first reading clinic.”

(Please read the full text of the article from which the above quote was taken with permission: The Theory Behind Davis Dyslexia Correction Methods, By Abigail Marshall © 1999, 2005. )

The key phrase from the above extract is: “… helping others to overcome their own dyslexia.”   Ron Davis has proven time and again that the only person who is able to correct a learning problem is the person who has it.  This is what the Dyslexia Correction Programme is all about: the dyslexic’s sense of responsibility.  We, here at Dyslexia Solutions South Africa, will help the dyslexic learner to assume responsibility for correction his dyslexia.  We give the learner the tools, skills, and methods, and in so doing give the dyslexic knowledge and practice to use the new knowledge.  With that, it takes only 5 days for the dyslexic to realise that he is not dumb, stupid, lazy and unwilling to participate in class.  From that moment the dyslexic takes control of reading, writing, daydreaming, hyperactivity, making sense of basic Math principles and starting to write neatly and with confidence.


Video source:


gift of learning1Today, there are Davis  programme providers in more than 47 countries and working in more than 30 languages.  Since 2013 Afrikaans is now also one of those languages!  All these Facilitators have completed an extensive program of training and practice over a period of up to two years in methods geared to the dyslexic’s unique thinking and learning style; teaching their clients in a 5 – 8 days private in a one-to-one setting how to learn to read, write, and study efficiently. Because the teaching method is one of Mastery, the knowledge stays with the child his whole life, and dyslexia should never bother him again.

Dyslexia Solutions Southern Africa, previously (for 7 years) based in White River in Mpumalanga, BUT NOW IN PRETORIA, has a licensed Davis Dyslexia Correction Facilitator, Jan Viljoen,  trained to teach clients how to use the Davis “tools” to learn to read, write, and study efficiently and to resolve the one root of the learning disabilities associated with Dyslexia, namely ADD and ADHD, while leaving the real gifts of dyslexia intact.

DSC_6715Let’s first say what Dyslexia is NOT:

  • It is not a disease; or sickness, and therefore can’t be “cured”, only corrected.
  • It is not the result of a brain injury or brain defect.
  • It is not in itself a disability”.

It has no link to different intelligence levels. Dyslexics aren’t all the same, but they do share certain traits:

  • They are mostly highly intelligent;
  • usually Their  thoughts are  visually multi-dimensional, thinking in terms pictures instead of words and do it very fast;
  • They have vivid imaginations and are great creators and innovators, hands-on learners; destined to become architects, engineers, authors, actors, comedians, movie directors, sculptors, painters;
  • They can utilize the brain’s ability to alter and create perceptions to suit them and to solve problems;
  • They are highly aware of their environment and curious about how things work;
  • They have a natural talent for strategizing and solving real-world problems;

So, if dyslexics are so gifted, what then is causing the learning disabilities?

Why do they so frequently get confused when reading, why do the letters not stay still?

What is the link with ADD/ADHD, and why do most find it difficult to grasp basic Math principles?


Please read on.

Verbal learners mainly think with the sounds of words, their thoughts are linear in time and follows the structure of language, with a sort of internal dialogue.

Most dyslexics are nonverbal thinkers – they mainly think in 3-dimensional multi-sensory pictures. When a sentence is read, a picture of what the sentence is “saying” is formed – not of the words, but of its meaning.

Sight words: However this talent can cause problems and confusions when reading words which are not attached to an image of the meaning of the word. Table, horse, mountain, most nouns, have images, but words like but, when, almost, for, from, is, if, the,  and about 200 such sight or abstract words with no picture attached in both English and Afrikaans are at the root of reading difficulties for a picture-thinker. The text quickly loses meaning – causing confusion, frustration, and fatigue and eventually total debilitating disorientation.

When confused, the dyslexic’s automatic response is to make use of his Gift of Dyslexia, examine the source of the confusion and problem-solve, create, invent, engineer, and escape by using their extraordinary 3-D multi-dimensional talent.

But this talent does not work well with 2-dimensional words (words on paper). The result of disorientation while reading is a distorted perception of the words – its appearance and meaning causing frustration, mistakes, loss of comprehension, and fatigue.

When reading, the dyslexic’s brain might blank out all words with no picture/image attached, and a sentence might look like this:

injured hunter looked wounded lion jump —- .

This is what is available to try and make sense of:

injured hunter looked — — — — — wounded lion — — — jump —- — —.

This is the original text:

The injured hunter looked over his shoulder and saw that the wounded lion was about to jump right unto him.

The table is set for confusions and ready to cause major disabling disorientations, leading to severe learning disabilities in reading, writing, spelling, comprehension, memory, and Math.

So then, let’s apply the Davis theory to Sarah’s predicament of knowing the facts almost 100% when doing an oral test, but only 27% when she has to write the same test:

Sarah is dyslexic!   What does it mean?

The cycle of confusion.

  1. Sarah is most probably a picture-creative-thinker, with a high intelligence, and a good memory.  She has no problem listening, comprehending and retrieval of learned knowledge.
  2. But when writing tests, she has to read the questions, and that is where her dilemma starts.  Sarah encounters many words in the questions that do not have pictures associated with  them.  So, she sees blanks, stripes and dots, or whatever, and skips to the next word, where the same happens, the next word might be a noun for which she can call up a picture, but now she is already in a state of confusion.
  3. The many confusions trigger disorientation, causing her to make false perceptions of reality, inaccuracies without her knowing it.
  4.  She makes mistakes, and at some stage the teacher, fellow learners, or Mom, will point out the mistakes, which calls up a nasty emotional reaction. No one likes to be making mistakes.
  5. But being in class, in a test environment, Sarah has no choice but to continue, and she reverts to compulsive solutions of which some has worked in the past. There are many, but the easiest solution would be to guess.
  6.  She is now very near to a total learning disability,  which will be called is uncontrolled dyslexia!

Our  Dyslexia Correction programme teaches Sarah to prevent confusions caused by picture-less words.  Orientation control will give her a way to deal with disorientation, eliminate false perceptions, and with the mastering of words and symbols  Sarah will be able to find pictures and accurate meanings for the non-picture words. Compulsive solutions will not be necessary anymore.

If you have not done the Free Dyslexia Screening Test, now is the time to do so.  Click the link below (it’s free!)

Free Davis Dyslexia On-Line Assessment