Why Drugs and Davis Don’t Mix

Abigail Marshall © 2005 DDAI.  

pills187wLicensed Davis Facilitators usually will not work with clients taking medications commonly prescribed for ADHD, such as Ritalin, Strattera, or Concerta, as those medications generally interfere with the individual’s ability to learn and apply the mental focusing techniques that are integral to the Davis program. Additionally, many medications prescribed for other conditions, such as depression or anxiety, may also prevent successful utilization of Davis techniques. In general, psycho-active drugs, stimulants, and serotonin reuptake inhibitors seem to stand in the way of a successful Davis program.

boy with clay modelIn order for a student to experience long-range success, it is also important to follow through after completion of the initial intensive week with a Facilitator. It is particularly important that individuals practice the various mental focusing techniques regularly, so that the use of these tools becomes natural and habitual.

Most Davis clients who wish to end their reliance on medication to control behavioral or attention focus problems are successful in doing so. However, to achieve this success, the Davis tools must be used consistently and regularly. This is not always easy; conditions that cause fatigue and stress may also prevent the successful use of the Davis tools on occasion, and anyone can have a bad day.

Thus, for the Davis program to be successful, it is important that the clients be truly motivated to change, and ready to assume responsibility for regulating their own behavior. It is also important that parents be supportive and encourage their child to use the Davis tools. It can be tempting for a parent to return to use of medication after the program, especially when the child returns to school; however, this can undermine the success the child has previously enjoyed with the tools. Not only do the medications interfere with the child’s ability to employ the techniques he has practiced successfully in the past, but it also sends a mixed message: on the one hand the child is told that he now has the ability to control his orientation and energy levels with Davis techniques, and on the other hand is being told he must take a pill because the techniques have somehow failed him.

Davis providers will evaluate each case on an individual basis. Although a Davis provider may refuse to accept a client because of concerns about medications, the provider will not make a direct recommendation as to whether to continue with medication. Rather, the issue of whether to continue with medication is one that each individual must determine in consultation with the prescribing physician.

In general, medications that are prescribed primarily to regulate attention level or behavior are the ones most likely to prevent success with the Davis program. In most cases, medications prescribed for physical ailments or illnesses such as asthma, hypertension, or diabetes would not be a problem. However, it is always important for the prospective Davis client to disclose fully to the provider any medications that are being taken — including nonprescription medications or natural, herbal remedies — so that the provider is aware of the possible influence of these substances, as well as possible issues related to the underlying condition being treated.

Davis Tools for Attention Mastery

Orientation or Alignment
Davis Facilitators use several mental focusing techniques, including Davis Orientation Counseling®, Davis Alignment, and Davis Auditory Orientation, in order to enable clients to exercise control over their perceptions and mental focus.
Davis Dial-Setting.
Dial-setting is a technique used to enable clients to become better aware of their own energy level, and to develop sensitivity to the energy levels of others around them. With this tool, the individual develops the ability to precisely regulate his own energy level, avoiding bouts of hyper-activity in inappropriate contexts.
Davis Concept Mastery.
Davis providers also use clay modeling to explore concepts like self, consequence, change, order/disorder, sequence, or responsibility to help their clients better control their own behavior and understand its impact on others.
Citation Information
Marshall, Abigail. (2005) A Drug-Free Approach to ADHD. Davis Dyslexia Association International, www.dyslexia.com

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  • Shelley BH

    Good afternoon, my grandson has a problem learning espically in his reading and constration, what are the best thing should i do to help him.

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      The Davis programs for dyslexia, math, and attention mastery all include tools for self-regulating and managing attention focus. This is the foundation for every Davis program. These techniques can be learned very easily, and with practice they will become integrated into daily life. For more information, see

  • Cheri B

    Wow! Today my son has reverted back to hours of loud rhythmic songs and hyperactive body moving. I think it is because he is waiting for a friend to play video games and is bored while he waits. He has probably used video games to control (or think he is controlling) how he feels or perceives things, as he is disoriented quite a bit whether looking at words or books or not. So he goes to his iOad or video games where he can control his world. ?
    The new neuro I recently had him retested with insists my son does not have Autism because he used eye contact. ?

    Anyway, my point is, when I calmly asked my son why he felt he was so active today he did something he used to do to calm himself… He RESET his own internal clock!! Exactly what you just said above!! No one has taught this to him, he just started doing it when he was younger. He slows himself down, truly imagines his internal clock speed inside of himself, and purposes this clock to slow down. However, he also immediately feels tired. He even said he felt a bit hurt in his feelings as if I was saying his activity was not a good thing. I reassured him how much I enjoyed hearing and seeing him today and carefully added that I haven’t seen as much of him since he has increased his video game playing time over this summer on video games, so I actually am enjoying his presence.
    But anyway, it was amazing to see him revert to this clock re-setting he used to do, and to read about this tool right above in this article!!
    Any advice on this?
    I’m still so unsure if he is truly Autistic and his issues aren’t as clear as your theory on dyslexia. where do I begin? He’s getting older and I’m running out if time, yet all these years of doctors, therapist and half way diagnosis have got us no where.

    Thank you for any help.

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      You might consider discussing your son’s specific needs with a Davis Facilitator who is also trained in Davis Autism Approach. The ability to make eye contact would not rule out autism, but you haven’t shared your other reasons for suspecting autism. You can find listings for all Davis Faciliator at https://www.davismethod.org/ or use the page at https://www.davismethod.org/cat/dai/ to narrow the search down to those who also can provide the Davis Autism program.

  • Howard O

    Good to see such a positive approach. I wonder if someone here can answer this: my daughter and I both tick 25 boxes on a 30 point self-check dyslexia scale, though we are both very strong readers and writers so perhaps not ‘typical’. But we are also both very creative, and accept this as a gift.
    We were treated for brief life crises with the anti-depressant Sertraline and, while it delivered a smoothing-out of mood, it gave us identical weird side-effects: visual processing of movement all out of sync, ‘explosions’ and flickering lights in the night, clumsiness, migraines, a lingering sense of ‘no hope’.
    We wonder if such medicines, or meds in general, actually get tested on minds physically identified as dyslexic? If we are one in five, then potential anomalous responses should be explored in the interest of millions of people.

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      That’s a great question — I have never heard of any drug manufacturer testing medications on dyslexic patients. However, the drug you mentioned has a very long list of possible side-effects — see https://www.drugs.com/sfx/sertraline-side-effects.html

      Any drug reaction could also be tied to genetic factors unrelated to dyslexia. Since your daughter shares half your DNA with you, it could be another genetic factor involved. I’d encourage you both to let your medical doctors know about the problems you have experience.

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