Dyslexia, the Big Picture

A Multidimensional Learning Style
by Ray Davis and Suzanne Hailey

If you were to close your eyes and imagine a tiger, you would not begin to create it from the tail and move to the haunches, then to the legs, shoulders, head, ears, nose, and add the stripes to figure out you have a tiger. You would see all the parts at once, and conclude "tiger." If most or all of your thinking is in pictures, you would become accustomed to figuring things out by looking at the whole object or situation at once.

Dyslexics are primarily picture thinkers. Rather than using self-talk (words, sentences, or internal dialogue), they specialize in mental or sensory imagery. This method of thinking is subliminal.

Most dyslexics are not aware that this is what they are doing. Since dyslexics think in pictures or imagery, they tend to use global logic and reasoning strategies. They look at the big picture to understand the world around them.

Dyslexics tend to excel in areas such as:

  • strategizing
  • creative endeavors
  • hands-on activities
  • solving real world objective problems

They tend to have difficulties in areas such as:

  • word-based thinking
  • sequential, linear, step-by-step reasoning

Thinking primarily with images, dyslexics also tend to develop very strong imaginations. They use a picture or feeling based reasoning process to solve problems rather than a verbal one. If they are at first confused (or intrigued), they will mentally move around an object and look at it from different viewpoints or angles. From this thought process, they develop many unique abilities and talents in areas such as:

  • spatial awareness
  • reading people
  • strategic planning
  • music/dancing
  • engineering
  • manual skills
  • artistic ability
  • building
  • piloting vehicles
  • designing
  • mechanical arts
  • drama/role playing
  • athletic ability
  • inventing
  • storytelling

This ability can also be the foundation for a problem. When disoriented, the individual will experience their own mental images as reality. Most people are able to experience a state of disorientation when looking at an optical illusion, or when exposed to misleading sensory stimuli, such as that created by virtual reality amusement rides. A dyslexic disorients on a daily basis as a reaction to confusion. Disorientation is what occurs when the dyslexic is using their natural problem solving skills. This natural mental response to any confusing sensory information manifests itself as the dyslexic learning style.

Dyslexics tend to have difficulty with unreal (two-dimensional) and symbolic objects, such as letters and numerals. In their effort to comprehend two-dimensional objects or symbols they may become disoriented. This manifests itself as the familiar symptoms of substitutions, reversals, transpositions or omissions in reading or writing letters, words and numerals. Disorientation is not limited to visual input. Many dyslexics commonly garble or mishear words or the sequence of words in sentences. Their internal sense of time can also become distorted and their motor coordination can appear delayed or clumsy.

This same thinking style is categorized under many different labels. Some of these include:

  • Dyslexia
  • Auditory processing disorder
  • Visual processing disorder
  • Reading disability
  • Language-based learning disability
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Attention deficit disorder

This thinking style can be the cause of a variety of different symptoms. At Reading Research Council, they refer to it simply as "the dyslexic thinking style."

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 accepted 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. There was something wrong with his brain.

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.

Facilitators, world-wide, have now been trained in methods geared to this unique thinking and learning style; teaching their clients how to learn to read, write, and study efficiently. One such place is Davis Dyslexia Correction Center located in Burlingame, California. DDCC is dedicated to exploring the positive talents that give rise to reading, writing, math and attention/hyper-activity problems. They resolve the root of the disability associated with Dyslexia, ADD and ADHD, leaving the gifts intact.