History of Davis Methods

Ron Davis

In 1980, at age 38, Ronald Dell Davis overcame his own severe dyslexia when he found a way to quickly eliminate common perceptual distortions. 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.

He soon realized that correcting perception 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.

After independent clinical research and working with experts in many fields, 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 book had been translated into several other languages, and Davis Dyslexia Association International (DDAI) was established to formally train other professionals to provide the same program throughout the world.

Ron Davis has now retired; his work is carried on by hundreds of Davis Facilitators offering services in more than 30 languages and more than 40 countries worldwide.  The basic ideas underlying the Davis Dyslexia Correction program have also been extended to develop specialized programs for Attention Mastery, Math Mastery, and Autism.


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  • Rebecca P

    I am wondering if the system teaches with manipulatives. The cost seems over the top and so I’m not sure it would be accepted by many in our school. Also could an assistant learn the method then teach more than one student simultaneously?

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Rebecca, the only physical materials required for the Davis program are clay, koosh balls, and dictionaries. However, the Dyslexia Correction program is designed to be provided in a one-on-one setting, not to a group. However, a teacher could work with a small group to do followup work after completion of the basic program with a facilitator. There is also a primary level classroom program called Davis Learning Strategies — this can be implemented through a two-day teacher workshop and a system of mentoring.

      Many resource and special ed teachers have reported success informally implementing the Davis methods, simply by following the instructions in The Gift of Dyslexia and perhaps purchasing a Davis kit along with supplemental materials as needed — for example, extra clay or dictionaries, as the kits only have materials for one student. However, materials such as dictionaries can be shared, and clay/koosh balls can be purchased from many sources.

      I am not sure why you think the cost is “over the top”? Are you referring to the cost for training a Facilitator through the point of licensing or the cost for an individual child to work with a Facilitator?

  • Theresa L

    I have an 8 year old in 3rd grade reading at about a 1st grade level. He has received the highest level of intervention in our NY school for 3 years (basically every day in small group or occasionally individually). They are telling me he has only received Orton Gillingham for 2nd grade so In 3rd they want to start The Barton method.

    I feel they have had their chance with the phonetics… My son HATES to read AND write. He has excellent comprehension. He is generally kind and outgoing.

    They say he has an inability “to attend” to the task of reading and writing and it’s ADD.

    My question is, if I agree to have him do Barton at school, how does he apply /can he apply the Davis tools he would learn from the 5 day course? And has anyone had success bringing Davis into schools so a teacher can do this with him instead of me at home?

    (I’m not sure I can get him OUT of the Barton Program unless I remove his 504 plan but a Mom can move mountains with God on her side!)

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      As your child is age 8, it would be a good idea to start by arranging a consultation and screening with a licensed Davis facilitator. The Davis Dyslexia Correction program can be given to children age 8 and older; but sometimes a facilitator will find that an 8-year-old is not quite ready for the Davis program and will recommend waiting until the child is somewhat older.

      Assuming you do go forward with a Davis program, ordinarily it would not be a good idea to mix Davis with any other sort of intensive intervention until follow up has been completed. Otherwise there is the potential that the other instruction will counteract the gains made with the Davis program, by reinforcing the very habits that the Davis facilitator has worked so hard to help the child move past. (These would be what Ron Davis calls “old solutions”, such over-reliance on beginner-level sounding-out strategies)

      Many parents have been successful in getting support from their school for the Davis post-program support– however, this is something that is best accomplished when the teacher who would be working with the child agrees and is willing to give it a go. So you may want to ask to meet with the teacher who would be working with your child to get a sense of whether that person is flexible; or you can find out from the school if there are within-school options other than the teacher who specifically uses the highly-scripted Barton method.

      A 504 plan is different than an IEP — the IEP is part that provides for educational interventions, while the 504 is geared to accommodations and adjustments. So if you do not feel that the school-based instruction provided by the school is helpful for your child, and the school is unwilling to make appropriate adjustments to the IEP, you can generally drop the IEP but retain the 504, which might provide for such things as modifications to assignments and extra time on tests.

  • Andrea W

    My daughter is 24 and was diagnosed with dyslexia when she was 9. She has worked hard and overcome much. She even recently graduated from college with honors. She wants to work in an office where there will be a significant amount of administrative work. The issue is she still has extreme issues with her spelling. I know the real world will not be as forgiving. Spell check is worthless but she has used the program, Grammerly. Are there any Apps or other programs to help with extreme spelling issues that she can implement into her work tasks?

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      The tools the Davis program provides can help individuals of any age overcome their difficulties. The Davis techniques help with spelling by stabilizing visual perception (so the person always sees the word accurately), building visual sequencing skills (so the person sees the letters in the correct order), and developing a strong visual memory of words that have been mastered with the clay modeling.

      That being said, it is fortunate these days that modern technology provides so many tools to help. I myself use Grammarly and find it to be extremely helpful in catching the many typographical errors I make — and digital assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa can spell words or provide definitions when asked. (I think other digital assistants like Siri, or OK Google can do the same).

  • Janet

    Is it possible to read and learn how to guide your child this program yourself? The program is too far from where we live and the cost is too expensive. I homeschool and have much knowledge about dyslexia as my Mother has dyslexia, but only learned and had testing in her mid 40’s. I’m looking to read and gain knowledge to guide my child and my Mother too.

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      The basic methods are described in detail in the book The Gift of Dyslexia, with scripted instructions as to how to implement basic strategies –including the Davis mental tools, reading exercises, and Davis Symbol Mastery. You can also choose to buy a home kit – which includes all physical materials needed for the program (alphabet strip, clay, koosh balls, dictionary); an manual with more detailed instructions, and videos demonstrating all of the Davis techniques.

  • Mustafa

    I have a daughter, who is 13 years old, and she has dyslexia, but also challenges with math. Very similar to the situation Mary Kate´s son is in (question posted 27th July 2017). My daughter she is in an IB world school and she is taught in English, but she is also learning Danish, since she might, probably, study at a Danish University. So, if she is going to receive the Davis dyslexia correct program in English, to what extent is it also effective to correct her Danish issues?

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      The Davis tools can and will apply to any language, but you would need to provide additional support on your own for the Symbol Mastery (clay word modeling) part of post-program support. The mental tools (orientation or alignment, release, dial-setting) will reduce stress and help eliminate perceptual confusion and errors in all contexts. The Davis Reading exercises can be done in any language, but of course she will need support from a Danish-speaker for practice in Danish. Similarly, you would need to work on your own to develop a good list of Danish trigger words for the post-program Symbol Mastery, but it is not difficult. The trigger words are generally the small function words of any language, typically articles, pronouns, prepositions, and auxiliary verbs.

      I think you will find this article helpful: https://www.dyslexia.com/multiple-language-learners/

  • Kathleen


    I have a 20 yr old son diagnosed with dyslexia when he was in middle school. The school provided him 1 on 1 training with the wilson reading program. Is the Davis approach something that will benefit him beyond the Wilson reading program? He is in college now.

    Thank you

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Yes, the Davis program is very different than Wilson reading. Wilson reading is a school-based program to teach reading and literacy skills — so it can help a student who is struggling to improve skill level, but it does not address the underlying dyslexia. Davis is a comprehensive approach to provide a person with tools to address the underlying causes of their difficulties, by giving them the ability to understand and control the mental processes that cause common symptoms associated with dyslexia. In other words, a successful Davis program will fix the dyslexia (or at least the part of dyslexia that causes problems — the gifts and talents that area also part of dyslexia are left intact).

      It would be best for your son to arrange a consultation directly with a Davis Facilitator before deciding on the program, however. That way your son could get his questions answered and get a better sense of whether the Davis program will meet his current needs.

  • Eduardo Reyes

    Que tal soy estudiante de la Universidad Pedagógica Nacional sede Teziutlán Puebla en México, curso el septimo semestre de la licenciatura en pedagogía y mi tema para realizar mi trabajo de titulación habla acerca de como tratar la dislexia en niños de primaria y me gustaría usar algunas bases de su método para esto: mi pregunta es ¿en donde puedo sacar un poco de información acerca del método?

  • Shellanda E

    I read the gift of dyslexia when I was 19 which was 20 years ago before the book I could only read at a grade 3 primary school level ( I had just been tested and given this book). After reading the book I found my reading improved and I was improving my reading over the year. A few years ago I went back to school as I had left in grade 10. I attended university and graduated a midwife 2 years ago which was something I never thought possible I even got distinction and credits.
    My son is 13 and I am thinking he is having some of the same problems I am on the Gold Coast in Australia but with him being 13 how well do they take to the program as I am sure he will do the five day intensive but the follow up is were I am worried he will lose him focus.
    Please can you advise me? And give me more information about the follow up.

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Shellanda, if your son is motivated, he will want to do the followup. A facilitator will evaluate him for motivation before accepting him for a program, and will also give you tips and suggestions to help keep him on track for the followup work. At age 13 he will need some encouragement, support and light supervision from you, but is old enough to do most of the followup work independently. That is, you probably won’t have to sit with him at the table all the time as he is modeling words, but he may need help with some steps and will need your feedback as he completes models.

  • Mary Kate H

    My 14 year old daughter was recently tested for dyslexia. Her spelling is at a 5th grade level, reading comprehension at 11th grade. She struggles horribly in math (Algebra 1), flipping signs, trouble graphing etc…. Are there any facilitators in Alaska? What recommendations/resources do you recommend?

    Thank you!

  • Ana Inés A

    Hi! I am a mother of an 8 year old girl that has recently tested for dyslexia. Is there an online course? We live in Montevideo Uruguay. My daughter attends The British Schools in Montevideo.
    Thank you!!

  • Julie M

    Hi I am a Dyslexia Assessor based in Stockport, UK. Can you tell me how I can become more familiar with your method of teaching as I need to make recommendations to parents on the best way forward for their children . With some children I suspect that a multi sensory phonic based programme isn’t going to be helpful but I don’t feel confident sign posting them yet to this method .
    Please can you advise.
    Thank you

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Julie, I would suggest that your first step should be to contact a Davis Facilitator in your area and arrange to meet. You can find facilitators in the UK here – https://www.davismethod.org/loc/uk-ireland/ — or you can visit the UK-based Davis Facilitators web site at http://www.unlocking-learning.co.uk/find-a-facilitator/. I think the nearest provider to you is probably the one in Manchester. I am sure that any facilitator would be happy to spend time chatting with you, explaining the program, answering your questions, and may also be able to provide the names of local clients who have completed the program. If you want to learn more there are a range of options, including attending a beginning workshop yourself. However, I think you will feel far more comfortable about making referrals if you have personally met the people in your area who would be providing Davis programs.

  • Zaz

    how long does it take the the Davis program to ‘cure’ someone?

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      The Davis program is not a “cure” for anything. Dyslexia is a not a disease, so it is not something that can be treated medically or cured.

      We use the term “correction” to refer to our program. The dictionary defines the verb correct as, “to make or set right.” Our goal is to provide individuals with specific tools and strategies to allow them to use their inherent mental strengths to overcome the problems and symptoms that accompany their dyslexic thinking style.

      Most Davis programs have two phases, beginning with a period of 5-8 days working full days, one-on-one, with a qualified Davis Facilitator. A standard Davis Dyslexia Correction program is competed over the course of 5 consecutive days. After the conclusion of the 5-day program, the individual does need to follow up with additional work and practice at home.

      The article Davis Program Average Reading Gains contains graphs showing the average improvements in tested reading level over the course of a 5-day program, among more than 400 consecutive clients at a single Davis center. As you can see, the level of improvement varies by age.

      Ultimately, each individual is different and each person also has the responsibility to continue to use and apply the tools the program provides.

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