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Fish Don’t Climb Trees – Sue Blyth Hall

6 min read

One of my favourite quotes is ‘we don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are’.

The recent article ‘Could your Child’s Reading Difficulty be Dyslexia?’ by Sarah Lyons is definitely one perspective.  I would like to offer another perspective from a dyslexic mother of a dyslexic son.

When my incredibly smart 5yr old who loved learning went to school, it did not go well.  He seemed to get through the Math, but very quickly fell behind with reading and spelling. He was taken out of class for more of what he couldn’t to already, home reading sessions were on the verge of ruining our relationship, and even the special school for dyslexics did not produce the desired results.  He was exhausted and his sadness was documented in the yearly school photographs. I was frustrated to say the least.

Luckily, I went to a talk on ‘The Gift of Dyslexia’, enticed by the positive title.  I learned the reason for his challenges and booked him into a one-week, one-on-one program straight away.  On the Friday, the last day, my now 10yr old told me “Mum, dyslexia is like a wound, in the past they gave me band-aids for it, now I can heal it myself.”   Wow… so obviously I had to learn how to provide these programs to other bright but struggling learners.  Along the way I discovered that I too have dyslexia… and I was so relieved; I really wanted confirmation that I had this wonderful way of thinking and learning. Yay !!!

Fish Don’t Climb Trees – Sue Blyth Hall - BC Parent Newsmagazine

Here is the way we see dyslexia.  We have a gift, a natural ability to alter perception. It works really well for us in the 3D world; we are the ‘out of the box’, creative  thinkers.  It is very likely that athletes, artists, designers, trades people, strategists, inventors, pilots and actors all use this gift without even knowing they are using it, and are seen as talented.  Unfortunately, 2D alphabet letters, numerals etc. do not need to be seen from different perspectives.  A lower case ‘d’ is a ‘p’ when perceived from 180 degrees; this subliminal perception causes confusion and a mistake occurs. 

Those who help students will obviously assume the student is seeing what they see when looking at the same page of text, and this is true in reality, but not necessarily true in terms of perception.  We can all experience powerful, altered perception.  If your car is stationary at the stop lights, and the car next to you moves, your perception can be sufficiently powerful to cause you to feel you are moving and you automatically put your foot on the brake of your stationary vehicle!

Secondly, there are two ways of thinking: verbally (the internal conversation) and non-verbally (the internal film and feelings).  I liken the sound thinkers to the ‘pc’ computers and the image-based thinkers to the ‘apple mac’ computers.  There is nothing wrong with either computer.  The challenge arises because the education system, and current remedial methods, reside in the ‘pc’ world, rendering the ‘apple mac’s as defective in some way.  The testing, segregating and labelling, plus more of what they couldn’t do already, result in the students’ loss of confidence and self-esteem.  Very often the children are convinced they are stupid when the complete opposite is true.

Thirdly, a picture-thinking ‘apple mac’ needs a picture with which to think.  No picture equals no thinking.  The word ‘tree’ will have a picture meaning, so will ‘desk, bicycle, house’… but what about a picture meaning for ‘the’, ‘if’, ‘of’, ‘as’, ‘so’, ‘their’?  It is possible to see the spelling of the word, but no image for the meaning. 

There are 217 of these words that make up half of what we read, no matter the grade level and then we can add in concepts. I estimate at least 2/3rd of the words we read have no image-based meaning.  We sort of collect/assimilate meanings and often use the words correctly, but we might not be thinking with the meaning.  For example, try to tell yourself what ‘on’ means… and you can’t use any form of ‘on’ (eg. upon) in your definition.  It’s tricky right?

Fish Don’t Climb Trees – Sue Blyth Hall - BC Parent Newsmagazine

So, my perception of dyslexia, as a dyslexic mother, with a dyslexic son and the benefit of being a Davis Dyslexia Correction® Facilitator of 24 years experience sees dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, some forms of ADD and ADHD as more of a glitch in the education system than a learning disability.  I believe that currently our teachers are not given the information or the tools they need to reach at least one-third of their students.  

While we work towards this, Davis Facilitators can show ‘apple mac’s how to control their perception, build firm foundations, navigate the 2D world to read and learn in the way they were born to learn. They do not have to be remodelled into ‘pc’s.

Fish Don’t Climb Trees – Sue Blyth Hall - BC Parent Newsmagazine

Thank you for attempting to see the world as we see it, on behalf of one-third of the population.

Sue Blyth Hall,

Davis Dyslexia Correction Facilitator,

Author of Fish Don’t Climb Trees

Founder and Chair of The Whole Dyslexic Society

TEDx speaker, March 2021:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPX-RYBkCow&t=2s 

For a different perspective on those who are really good at different perspectives, and the methods that can correct and prevent the challenges, you might like to visit these websites: 

www.dyslexia.com,      www.davislearn.com,       www.postivedyslexia.com www.fishdontclimbtrees.com,          www.thewds.org.  

 Suggested reading: The Gift of Dyslexia, and The Gift of Learning by Ronald D Davis and Fish Don’t Climb Trees

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