Just the Facts
"Knowledge of a subject doesn't necessarily mean you can do anything with it. That would require a skill. Likewise, a student can commit something to memory with no knowledge whatsoever. A grade schooler, for example, might be able to recite the multiplication table perfectly but still be unable to solve simple math problems. Coming to know something implies the goal of using knowledge while being aware of facts or figures does not."
The above quote is from one of the pioneers of dyslexia and autism. His name is Ronald D. Davis, and he has one hell of a story. When Ron was young, his mother told him that, as an infant, in 1942, he was called a Kanner's baby. Doctor Leo Kanner coined the term autism in 1943. He believes that is why he was never actually labeled autistic; He's older than the use of the word, but not older than the research done by Dr. Kanner.
His mother told him that as an infant, any physical touch from her would set him off. Even when she was trying to nurse him, he would try to scream and suckle at the same time.
She was so afraid that he would choke that she had to feed him without touching him. Being his mother made her life a hundred times more complicated than that of other women. But despite everything, she loved her son.
Different or New?
Ron's father, on the other hand, was just the opposite. When he came home from WWII, he was surprised and ashamed to find that he was the father of a mentally deficient child. He never found a way to effectively deal with his feelings, let alone how to deal with Ron.
There is evidence of 27 broken bones Ron endured from the beatings his father gave him out of his ignorance, frustration, shame, and hatred. According to Ron, he doesn't have an actual memory of most of the beatings or of being an autistic child; but he does have a sense of it.
Nothing and Everything
Before Ron started working with autism or understood it, he referred to himself as having come from a void. His sense of the void was not existing as an individual but as both nothing and everything simultaneously. Ron states that there was no sense of being an individual, so there was no "me." There was no sense of identity. Without a "me," there was no basis for memory or knowledge.
Meanwhile, around nine, Ron began to individuate and develop out of the state of oblivion—out of the void. In hindsight, he saw an eleven-year delay in his early development. As Ron reflected on his life, he could see three phases he had to go through to become a human.
First, he had to individuate; he had to stop being everything and nothing and become just one thing, his body. Second, he had to develop an identity for what he had become. And third, he had to adapt to the world of being human and become socially integrated.
Who am I?
So there are three phases one must go through in the process of becoming human:
- identity development
- social integration
As a result, Ron believes all "normal" humans go through this same sequence naturally in the first few years of life. Although identity development and social integration are never totally completed, there has to be enough to allow the individual to exist as a human being. Furthermore, Ron feels that some individuals either fail to start or sufficiently complete one or more of these three phases, and therein we can find autism.
Ron explains, If you are "normal," you've already done it—you did it naturally, and you did it totally by chance. If you happen to be autistic, you haven't completed it yet.
To clarify, Ron states that his experience as a "Kanner's Baby" did not provide insights into finding a "solution" to autism. However, it did give a different foundation for looking at the condition. His history provided an understanding of the steps to emerge from the void. However, it does not provide direct information about how to do it. Nevertheless, it did give him something that may have been even more important. It provided Ron with a definite purpose for being alive.
Ron understood who he was and why he was here, but he wasn't through all his challenges. His dyslexia was so severe that he would have to learn by listening and with the support of others. Above all, he utilized his other senses, like hearing, tasting, and smelling, to gather information.
In 1980, at age 38, Ronald Dell Davis overcame his severe dyslexia when he found a way to eliminate common perceptual distortions quickly. (Someone with perceptual distortion involuntarily experiences the activation of an additional sensory or cognitive pathway in response to specific stimuli. An example would be perceiving colors when listening to music). For the first time in his life, he could read and enjoy a book without struggling. To his surprise and delight, he soon learned that the simple mental exercise he had discovered for himself seemed to work just as well for other dyslexic adults who tried it out.
Consequently, Ron found out that this ability to remove the distortion was not enough. It was also necessary to eliminate the sources of confusion that triggered disorientation. For dyslexia, that meant a system for building strong word recognition and comprehension skills geared to the dyslexic learning style.
As a result, Ron funded his research, and with the support of experts and clinical research, Ron Davis perfected his program for correcting dyslexia in adults and children. In 1982, Ron Davis and Dr. Fatima Ali, Ph.D., opened the Reading Research Council Dyslexia Correction Center in California, achieving a 97% success rate in helping clients overcome their learning problems.
In 1994, the first edition of the book, The Gift of Dyslexia, was published. Within a year, the text was in several other languages, and Davis Dyslexia Association International (DDAI) trained other professionals to provide the same program worldwide.
Ron came into this world with no connection to it or himself. He did not consider himself a victim of abuse or hate; he knew that people did not understand him. Ron was a very successful real estate mogul before he learned how to read. As a result of his ability to recognize the distortions in his learning behavior, he could share his knowledge with the world.
Reading is Fundamental
I, too, have dyslexia, and the fact that I'm writing these blogs today is my miracle. Growing up, I struggle to read. The words and the sounds did not make sense to me. My teachers quickly identified that I needed help. In the 1970s and 80s, they said I had a learning disorder (LD student). My teachers thought phonics was the answer, but it was not. Listening to music was another approach, but that didn't help either. Finally, I picked up a book in my senior year in high school and slowly learned how to interpret the words on the page.
The book's title was God Save The Child by Robert B. Parker, a Spenser series, first published in 1974. It was given to me by a friend's mom when I couldn't sleep during a sleepover. I was seventeen years old, and for the first time, I read for pleasure, not for school. Robert's writing skills helped me enjoy reading. His prose was light yet punchy, and his character development was engaging. I got interested and engaged as Robert pulled me into his character's world. The main character, Spenser, was a quick-witted tough guy who was not afraid of bullies. He also maintained a sense of duty and support for the underdog. While reading, I was moving from the words on the page to my imagination. For the first time, I left my thinking mind and created my perceptual distortions.
Consequently, I used the momentum of connecting with Parker's books and translated the method to college and my professional career. However, until this week, I didn't know that was what I was doing.
And then there Was None
Learning about Ron Davis helped me see that there is another agenda for teaching in this country. If Davis had this information in the 80s when I was in school, why didn't I have access to it? As a matter of fact, why don't all kids with learning disabilities have access to this information? The simple answer is money. Several big corporate entities are controlling the market. I know; how can this be? Google the top dyslexic organizations, and you won't find Ron's company.
My final example is Ron started working with children in San Francisco, which has the same population as Switzerland. In San Fransico, he has four practitioners teaching his method. In Switzerland, he has sixty.
More to Come
If you feel you are less than, I encourage you to shift your mindset to the fact that you are special. People tend to view the unique as different or wrong when in most cases, it is beautiful and helpful. Ron came into this world unaware, disconnected, and different. He now gives us the knowledge to understand and prosper.
If you know someone struggling with dyslexia or diagnosed with autism, give them Ron's information at Davis Training Worldwide.