Issue No.



Dys•lex´ ic Read´ er • •˜

Davis Dyslexia Association International

Summer 1996

Focus on Symbol Mastery

For all kids, modeling words with clay fills the gap between phonics and whole language instruction.

In the Classroom: At Home:
A kids-eye view Homeschooling with Symbol Mastery

Creativity Meets Invention at Inventure Camps Why a Drug-Free Program?
by Brian Grimes

My favorite word is the- my word is: the bird is in the cage.

Book Reviews:
The Super Science Book of Time Explaining Time
Dyslexia, My Life, by Girard Sagmiller

The new Davis Symbol Mastery kit contains

all materials needed for home use or tutoring, beginning with the alphabet and working through the small word list. The fold-out alphabet strip contains upper case letters on one side, and lower case letters in reverse order on the other. The checklist format of the manual helps students track their progress. This is the same kit provided to students enrolled in the intensive one-week Davis Dyslexia Correction program.

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Issue No. 6

The Dyslexic Reader

Getting on Point


This is not an impossible task, nor is it unduly expensive. The public elementary school in California which is featured in our cover story provides Davis Symbol Mastery to all the children in three primary grade classrooms. The teachers also use an excellent program called Total Reading, which gives intensive preparation Not “Behind Enough” in phonics, in addition to the school district’s whole language Again and again, parents reading program. In fact, Symbol complain that their children are Mastery provides the “missing link” falling behind, but the schools between phonics and whole can’t offer help because the kids language, adding an understanding are not failing badly enough. of word meaning and grammatical Schools vary with the labels used structure to decoding and word to describe the children’s recognition skills. problems. But whatever the diagnosis, help remains elusive. The rewards are clear. As an Virtually all experts in the field editor and a mother, I had the pleasure of reading the first-draft of learning disabilities favor early intervention. Educators also know handwritten comments of the first grade authors. In more than 40 that dyslexic children learn best pages, I did not see a single letter from multifaceted or hands-on, reversed! The kids almost always experiential approaches. In fact, those approaches are far superior wrote in complete sentences, with correct use of upper and lower to pencil-and-paper tasks for almost all young children, because case letters and punctuation. Some kids wrote prolifically, and some they are geared to the developstill have a lot to learn, but it’s mental needs of pre-readers. Schools should never deny help clear that they are all getting the education they deserve, right now. to all but the “worst cases.” Dyslexia is compounded by •Abigail Marshall, frustration. By third or fourth Managing Editor

y seven year old has extreme difficulty with reading and writing. The school district says he has ‘an auditory processing problem,’ but won’t test for dyslexia. We are desperate to find help....” “My daughter has just been diagnosed as a ‘Type 2 visual and auditory dyslexic.’ The school says she is not deficient enough to warrant help....” “My eight year old son has NOT been diagnosed with Dyslexia. But he tested several years behind grade level in language mechanics and math. The school labeled my son LD, but he ‘fell through the cracks’ because so many are worse off and need help more....”

Schools that Teach Failure


Davis Down Under

grade, the dyslexic child may have already given up trying. Schools that follow a “wait-and-see” approach may turn a mild learning difficulty into a lifelong barrier. The answer is for all schools to provide a multifaceted reading curriculum to every primary grade child. Each and every child should be exposed to methods suited to a variety of individual learning styles.

The Missing Link

on Davis will be traveling to Australia in September, 1996. During the first week of September, he will provide a 4-hour Symbol Mastery course in Melbourne. He will then travel to Canberra. From there he will go to Sydney, where he will speak at the Adult Learner’s Conference. In Sydney, Ron will also provide a 4-day training workshop, beginning September 13. From there he will travel to Brisbane, where he will lecture and may also present an additional seminar in Davis methods. The Australian tour and workshops are being coordinated by Kay Distel, of Sound Education, which specializes in the therapeutic use of sound and music.

Published quarterly by Davis Dyslexia Association International (DDAI). DDAI’s purposes are to increase worldwide awareness about the gifted aspects of dyslexia and related learning styles; and to present methods for improving literacy. We believe all people have abilities and talents that should be cherished and valued, and that learning problems can be corrected. Letters to the editor, address changes, and article submissions should be sent to 1601 Old Bayshore Hwy. #260C, Burlingame, CA 94010 For reprints or permission to republish an article, call (415) 6928995, fax (415) 692-8997 or e-mail Internet address: Subscriptions: US$25 a year, US$30 Canada/Mexico, US$35 other countries. Views expressed in letters and articles herein are not necessarily those of DDAI. All materials ©DDAI 1996, unless otherwise noted. Managing Editor, Abigail Marshall.

Dys•lex´ ic Read´ er • •˜

The Dyslexic Reader

Issue No. 6

Page 3

Clay is Fun!


A kids-eye view of Symbol Mastery in the classroom, by Mrs. Steel’s first grade class
The Symbol Mastery Pilot Program, under the direction of DDAI’s Sharon Pfeiffer, is now finishing its third year. This program is being conducted at Mission San Jose Elementary School, a public school in the Fremont School District in Northern California (Principal Sharyn Carroll). Three teachers, Larry Becerra (kindergarten), Donna Steel (first grade) and Kristen Fisher (second grade) provide Symbol Mastery regularly within their class curriculum. Mrs. Steel’s first grade is on a staggered schedule. Reading instruction takes place during the first and last hours of the day, when the class group is reduced to 15 students. Two days a week are “clay days” during which Symbol Mastery is done for the entire class period. At the beginning of the year, the first graders made clay alphabets and punctuation marks. They then moved on to the “small” word list, modeling words such as a, an, the and and. They also worked with some more challenging words, such as through and whether. This article is composed of the childrens’ written comments, compiled by Joan Stoelker, the “Project Write” teacher at Mission San Jose. The children’s “invented spelling” of new words has been corrected, but sentence structure reflects the original phrasing. The Symbol Mastery words were spelled and used correctly. Twenty-eight students wrote about their experiences; most also drew pictures illustrating their ideas.

he kids all enjoyed the art of working with clay. Many children also said they liked the exercise involved in using their hands to manipulate and mold the clay. Tracy: “I remember when I first did clay it was a little hard. What I like about clay is your hands have something to do. You can be a great artist with

Alex: “I can go at my own speed and I don’t get bored.” Jason: “We don’t have to make the picture that Mrs. Steel wants us to do. We can make any picture that we want. Then we can write it in our journal.” The kids also understood and appreciated the purpose of Symbol Mastery: to help them understand and remember the meanings of words. Jazmine: “Clay teaches us the meaning of the word. I like to make the picture with the clay.” Irene: “Some times I had a very hard time with some words, but a lot of times I know the reason.” Jaimie: “We tell the definition to the teachers when we’re done. It is fun.” Chloe: "I like the word and. Mrs. Steel puts up a word. We make a sentence. I made Mom and Dad." Kaylee: “My favorite word is a. I did a puppy can run.” Leila: “When I grow up I want to be a clay teacher.” Although it was conceived as a preventive intervention program, to reach kids at risk for learning problems, the Symbol Mastery program is viewed by the children as an enrichment activity. Clearly, it benefits not only the “slow” readers, but also the children who crave more stimulation. Unlike textbook instruction or worksheets, Symbol Mastery was never boring, even when the assigned task focused on the most basic words.

clay. Your fingers will never get tired of clay. It’s so much fun, I play with it at home, too.” Annie: “Clay is hard. I have to smooth it with my hands. When I’m done I raise my hand up.” Andrea: “Clay gives us good exercise for our hands and good strength for our body.” Sonya: “Clay makes me feel creative. It keeps my hands cool. Clay keeps your hands busy. When I do clay it makes me feel good.” Megan: “Clay makes me feel like an artist.” The children also enjoyed working at their own pace, and being given freedom to explore their own ideas.

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Issue No. 6

The Dyslexic Reader

Homeschooling with Symbol Mastery


MASTERY is ideal for a parent who chooses to work at home to help a dyslexic child overcome school problems. But it is also wonderful for homeschooling, or for after school activities and enrichment. Here the use of Symbol Mastery is not

restricted to children who are considered learning disabled, but is a helpful tool for all learning. Some advantages of using Symbol Mastery are: It’s Adaptable for All Ages Symbol Mastery is a study method that can be adapted for and will appeal to students of any age. Several children in a homeschooling family can work with clay at the same time, on very different levels. A 4-yearold might be learning to roll and shape the clay, and starting on the first letters of the alphabet. His 7-year-old sister might be working through the word list contained in the Symbol Mastery manual. Their 10-year-old sibling could use the same techniques to master new terms encountered in reading a science book. It’s Self-Paced and Individualized With Symbol Mastery, the child moves at his own speed

and according to his own comfort level. There are no worksheets to complete or written tests. Further, it rests on a concept that should be embraced by all home-schoolers—mastery. Mastery means that the child will fully understand a particular idea or concept before moving on, whether it is an aspect of reading, math, or any other area of study. Once mastered, there is no need for repetition or drill. It’s Compatible with All Methods and Approaches Symbol Mastery also fits in with whatever approach to homeschooling is followed. A parent following a structured schedule of instruction at home would probably create a specific time and place for Symbol Mastery. A parent who “unschooled” might prefer to leave the clay, dictionary, and a word list accessible at all times, encouraging but not requiring the child to do Symbol Mastery at any set time. It’s Ideal for Beginning Readers Symbol Mastery is an ideal way to introduce children age 4 and up to reading concepts, and to provide a beginning reading vocabulary. It gives children an understanding of both the meanings of connective words and their logical relation to other words in the sentence. This increases comprehension skills. Symbol Mastery also provides an important bridge between reading methods based on phonics instruction and those based on a broad exposure to children’s literature.


ALL parents can be homeschoolers some of the time, even if our children are in school or daycare centers most of the day! Symbol Mastery at home can be used to complement school assignments, such as studying spelling words or foreign language vocabulary.

ften, teachers are frustrated when their dyslexic students seem unable to remember the simplest words from day to day. This characteristic has led many to the erroneous conclusion that dyslexics have “poor visual memory” and must be taught through constant repetition. With Symbol Mastery, children learn each word in a manner that is easily retained. Jocelyn Hardwick is a British teacher who recently started using this method with two very young students. She writes: I have the Symbol Mastery video and am using the clay techniques with Jake (8). Jake is very dyslexic I am sure. On a recent Monday, he needed the word they. He modelled four people and said “there theyare, theyare my friends.” On Tuesday he remembered it instantly and remodelled it. On Thursday it came up in his book and with a little smile – that’s what impressed me more than anything–he seemed to recognize it easily. That is not his usual reaction to print. Soon after that, Jake had a 3 week break in Greece, doing no reading. Upon his return, the one word he could read without a prompt was they!! You can imagine my amazement. I just asked him to choose a known book and have a go at it; I then just listened and watched and prompted many times so that he could enjoy the story and feel OK. The word they seemed effortless on each of the occasions it came up .

Symbol Mastery and Sight Words

The Dyslexic Reader

Issue No. 6

Page 5

The Book Report: 3The Super Science Book of


Chapman and Pam Robson

Time, by Kay Davies and Wendy Oldfield 3Explaining Time, by Gillian

man’s story of his life with a learning disability,

Dyslexia My Life: One
by Girard J. Sagmiller

had been counseling about a month when Ron Davis presented me with a new challenge. He felt that the client that I was working with that week needed to master the concept of time. Ron explained that time was one of the basic foundations for math. He went on to say that unless we have a clear understanding and have mastered time, we only have memory to help us in math. When our memory runs out, that is as far as we can advance in mathematics. Ron gave me this definition of time: the measurement of change in relation to a standard. My assignment was clear. The next day I was to help this student master time. I headed for the library, hoping to find some books with pictures that would explain the definition of time. With the help of the children’s librarian, I reviewed all the books on time. Only one fit my new definition—The Super Science Book of Time. All the other books were about how to tell time, but did not give an understanding of what time really means. This book helped my client understand that our clocks and watches are measuring the turn of the earth. The book also talks very clearly about measuring time, using time lines, the body clock, shadows, seasons, phases of the moon, tides, and other cycles. I found the book to be colorful and easy to use with students of any age. Another book I have since found to help advance the concept is Explaining Time, by Gillian Chapman and Pam Robson. I particularly like the pages showing the growth rings on a tree and explaining how this relates to events in historical time. The book is filled with lots of interesting facts and colorful pictures, and is written in an easy-to-read style. It contains many activities that would make good science projects. I have used both of these books with great success and highly recommend them. I feel with the help of these books, a visit to a planetarium, and becoming aware of nature, we can all have fun while gaining a clear understanding of the definition of time–the measurement of change in relation to a standard. Reviewed by Sharon Pfeiffer


irard Sagmiller defines a dyslexic as one who “has trouble processing data from the senses of the body dealing with two-dimensional (2D) items, and yet has exceptional talent processing three-dimensional (3-D) items.” Growing up in rural North Dakota, Girard experienced rejection, torment, embarassment and sometimes physical abuse from his parents and teachers who reacted to his dyslexia with frustration and anger. School was a succession of remedial classes, which provided continual embarassment but little progress. Through dogged determination, Girard ultimately slogged his way through college, finding salvation in his computer programming skills. But even after earning a master’s degree, Girard encountered frustrating barriers to employment or promotion, such as standardized written tests, and often suffered from the ignorance and prejudice of his co-workers. His autobiography stands as a testament to all the things that parents, teachers, and employers should not do or say to dyslexics. Ultimately Girard achieved sucess only by coming to terms with his own dyslexia, recognizing both its gifts and limitations, and moving toward a career and life path appropriate to his talents. Reviewed by Abigail Marshall

3Check Mark indicates book is available from DDAI.
See catalog insert for ordering information.

Softcover, $8.95. This book is available from G & R Publishing Company. For ordering information call 816-803-4679, or toll free 1-800-428-8309

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Issue No. 6

The Dyslexic Reader

hat is a dyslexic kid’s idea of summer fun? How about a summer day camp where kids dismantle clocks and telephones to see how they work? Inventure Place, a program created by the National Inventors Hall of Fame of Akron, Ohio, provides week-long summer day camps for kids ages 6-11 at 150 locations across the US. The program aims to increase children’s creativity and selfesteem as they learn art and science concepts and about the great inventors of the world. Besides dismantling small appliances, kids might design life support systems for the planet “Zak”, create new amusement park rides based on the physics of existing rides, invent new marble games and activities, or create chalk murals and sculptures based on the techniques of Picasso or DaVinci. The camps are usually conducted in neighborhood schools or museums. This summer, camps will be held at schools and museums in San Diego, Seattle, Chicago, Boca Raton, Baltimore, Boston, New Jersey, Long Island, New Hampshire, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Akron. A typical camp has five different age groups of children. During the week, each child rotates through six different modules, each consuming one hour a day. Inventure Place has developed 24 different modules in all, each geared to inspire creativity through a multi-disciplinary approach. Modules integrate science, math, language arts, social studies, and the visual arts. Every camp experience includes an invention unit called I Can Invent. These camps offer a valuable educational alternative to sports camps, computer camps, and scout camps. The Camp Invention experience appeals to children, and to their parents, because of its thematic hands-on activities that combine fun with learning. Here, every child can experience success.



In the What’s Bugging You? unit, children collect and study insects, and then create their own bug engineered to solve a specific problem. .

For specific information about the locations of Inventure Place administered camps, call 1-800-968IDEA or access the Inventure Place web page, http:// For information about administering a cluster of 8-10 camps in your area or to purchase a franchise license to run 1-3 camps call Inventure Place Camp Coordinator JoAnn Uslick at 330-849-6850 or e-mail at


For more information about the Total Reading Language Arts Program (page 2), contact the Total Reading Association, P.O. Box 54465, Los Angeles, CA 90054, Telephone 1-800-525-7905. For information on implementing a l classroom-based Davis Symbol Mastery program at your school, contact Sharon Pfeifer at DDAI, Telephone 1-415-692-8995.

Other Resources Mentioned in this Issue

INTERNET USERS TIP: You can find more educational resources at the DDAI World Wide Web site by going directly to h t t p : / / w w w. d y s l e x i a . c o m / l i n k s . c g i

The Dyslexic Reader

Issue No. 6

Page 7

Why A Drug Free Program?


by Brian K. Grimes, Director, Reading Research Council
e are often asked whether a person can do the Davis Orientation Counseling Program while taking prescribed medications such as Ritalin or Prozac. These medications are sometimes prescribed for conditions such as ADD, ADHD and depression. The answer to this question is that we prefer the program not be done while medications are being taken. Of course, we always ask our clients to seek the advice and permission of their doctor before discontinuing any medication. Some medicines (particularly those that affect the central nervous system) hamper a person’s ability to use creative thought, or to visualize or picture things using imagination. This becomes significant when doing Orientation Counseling as well as the Fine Tuning sections of our program. During these times, individuals are using multi-dimensional thought and perceptual abilities that are quite natural for them. Psychoactive drugs will inhibit the individual from using these talents. One of the main goals of Orientation Counseling is to enable a person to correct their perceptions and control their attention on their own without the use of medication. A person under the influence of medication cannot experience the contrast and improvement that voluntary control of orientation has on their learning ability as well as their creativity. This doesn’t mean that it is impossible for a medicated person to do the Davis procedures. We simply prefer to reduce any possibility of the person being unable to perform these tasks and thereby not gaining the full benefits of our program. In many cases, our clients have traveled a great distance. Should they arrive only to be unable to do parts of the program successfully because of drugs in their system, it is unfair both to the clients and to the counselors charged with taking them through the program successfully. Thus, our policy is to ask the individual to refrain from using drugs for at least a week before starting Orientation Counseling whenever possible. Medications such as antibiotics and aspirin, when necessary to treat physical illness, are of course acceptable. Medicines such as antihistamines, codeinebased cough syrups, Ritalin, antidepressants (Prozac, Zoloft, etc.) should be avoided. If you have any questions regarding a medication, call us and ask about it, then consult with your doctor.

DDAI Certified Counseling and Learning Centers

California Reading Research Council Dyslexia Correction Center
Ron Davis, Founder Brian Grimes, Director Dr. Fatima Ali, Ph.D., MFCC Sharon Pfeiffer, Curriculum Director 1601 Old Bayshore Highway, Suite 260 Burlingame, CA 94010 Telephone: +1 (415) 692-8990 Fax: +1 (415) 692-8997

New Jersey Multivariant Learning Systems Corporation
Charlotte Foster, President P.O. Box 224 Basking Ridge, NJ 07920 Telephone: +1 (908) 766-5399 Fax: +1 (908)766-6010


Germany Albrecht Giese, Ph.D.
St. Georgs-Kirchhof 6 20099 Hamburg, Germany

Telephone/Fax: +49 40 280-4576

Brian Grimes, the Counseling Director at the Reading Research Council, has over 20 years’ counseling experience. He is certified by the International Association of Trauma Counselors, and has counseled for the Red Cross, US Navy and Department of Veterans Affairs.

Robin Temple Drs. Siegerdina Mandema Kerkweg 38a NL-6105 CG Maria Hoop, Holland Telephone: +31 475 302 203 Fax: +31 475 301 381 All DDAI-Certified Centers Can be Reached via the Internet through the DDAI web site at

Holland ZieZei Counselling Institute for Dyslexia

The Dyslexic Reader

1601 Old Bayshore Highway, Suite 260 Burlingame, CA 94010 (415) 692-8995


AGES: Adults and children from 7 years COST: $2,700 Includes the new Davis Symbol Mastery kit.

Upcoming Events

“Dyslexia & ADD: Their Causes & Correction”
Adults and parents of children with learning differences share experiences and learn more about their abilities at this informal discussion presented by the Reading Research Council at 1601 Old Bayshore Highway #260, Burlingame,CA (east of 101 between Millbrae Avenue and Broadway exits). Admission $5.00; free if you bring a copy of The Gift of Dyslexia. For information and reservations, call (415) 692-8990.

This personalized five-day (25-30 hour) program is usually scheduled Monday-Friday, 9:00AM-4:00PM with a break for lunch. It is an intensive, one-onone educational and therapeutic program. Conditions that can be addressed include: poor or delayed reading, spelling, math and handwriting skills; auditory processing difficulties; ADD; and motor coordination difficulties. By the end of the program, clients should be able to: (1) recognize and correct their own disorientations; (2) know how to eliminate confusions in words and/or symbols; (3) experience increased self-confidence and ability with reading and writing skills. If more than 30 hours is needed to achieve these goals, they will be included without additional cost. Also included are: reference materials, unlimited telephone consultations and support training for tutors, teachers and family members. The program and its history are described in The Gift of Dyslexia by Ronald D. Davis.

u Wednesday, July 10 u Tuesday, August 6

7–8:30 p.m. 7–8:30 p.m.

Learning Exchange Workshop by Ron Davis “Why Dyslexia is a Gift and How It Can Be Corrected” Saturday, August 3, 1996 10 am-1 pm 650 Howe Ave. Suite 610 Sacramento, CA (916) 929-9200 Course fee: $30-35

For more information about events and counseling programs, please call the Reading Research Council