Ron Davis' Discovery - 40 Years On
Once home, Ron would retreat to play in his yard, molding object from a gooey mixture of red dirt and water. Eventually he started to make replicas of the letters from the classroom wall with clay, asking his older brother to tell him the names of each letter. He eventually learned all the letters of the alphabet, but that didn't lead to reading.
Ron had a knack for math concepts. As a young adult, he did well with an engineering-based career in the aerospace industry, where his strong mechanical skills and ability to manipulate mental images were assets. But he left his job when offered a promotion to an administrative position. He was hiding a terrible secret and couldn't risk exposure: he still couldn't read.
Whenever he tried to read, the words on the page appeared to be swimming. The letters would not hold still. The spacing would disappear and the shapes of the words would transpose and shift. There was no way to make sense of any of it.
He took on a new career path: sculpting. He loved to immerse himself in his art, but was stymied when someone asked him, "how can you do what you do?" For him, sculpting was easy, but describing his process in words was a challenge. As he thought about it, he realized that when creating his artwork, he would get lost in his creative mental space, losing track of the physical world around him. His senses were aligned to what he was thinking, in a world in imagery where language didn't exist.
As he thought about his creative space, his curiosity was sparked. If he could go in his mind to a place where language didn't exist, could he find a way to go where it did?
Exploring that question resulted in his discover of the root cause of dyslexia - disorientation. He realized that the mental state that fostered his art could also be the cause of his problems with sorting out words on a page. He needed to figure out a way to turn disorientation off.
Once he figured it out, he was able to read effortlessly for the first time in his life. The words held still, the spacing between the letters and words and line became stable. He was stunned and overjoyed when he hit upon the sweet spot in his brain that allowed him to experience what the rest of the world experienced when looking at text.
Ron shared his discover with a few of his artist friends who, like him, had always struggled with dyslexia. Surprisingly, the strategy Ron had developed to shift his own mental perspective into reading mode worked for them as well. In 1982, Ron established the Reading Research Council to research and test his discover with others, who like him, struggled to decipher written words even though they were highly intelligent, intuitive and creative.
Over time , working with other professionals such as educational psychologist, Dr Fatima Ali, the pieces of the puzzle were coming together. It wasn't enough to merely fix disorientation - the underlying triggers for disorientation also had to be explored and rectified. The Davis Dyslexia Correction Program was born by reverse-engineering the path that Ron had walked to get to where he was, leading him all the way back to modeling the letters in his backyard.
This article excerpted and adapted from The Ron Davis Story: How one man's discovery forever changed the face of Dyslexia. (Published by DDAI, 2020)