What is Disorientation?

A natural talent that can be a liability at school

Dyslexics and people labeled as ADD have the ability to disorient. Here are the eight primary attributes of what we call "picture thinking."

1.They can utilize the brain's ability to alter and create perceptions (the primary ability).
2.They are highly aware of the environment.
3.They are more curious than average.
4.They think mainly in pictures instead of words.
5.They are highly intuitive and insightful.
6.They think and perceive multi-dimensionally (using all the senses).
7.They can experience thought as reality.
8.They have vivid imaginations.

Disorientation is a natural phenomenon. You experience it when you get dizzy and things seem to move on their own. A common occurrence is when you're stopped behind another car and it rolls backward. You will sense that your car is moving forward when it's not. You may press on the brake before you think about honking the horn.

When reading, dyslexics become disoriented when they encounter trigger words. This undermines conceptual understanding, and may cause problems with attention focus because of distorted sound and vision, time sense, and balance and motion. Davis Orientation Counseling© provides a solution.

Dyslexics spontaneously disorient to experience the world multi-dimensionally. They use disorientation to resolve confusion about real world objects and places by constructing a 3-dimensional mental model. This only makes things more confusing when looking at words printed on a page.

Tricky Little Words

Because dyslexics think in pictures, not with the sounds of words, they mainly have trouble with words that don't produce a mental picture. Ron Davis has identified 217 "trigger words." They are everyday words like "the," "of" and "for." During the program, students master these words by modeling their meanings and spellings in clay.

To get an idea of how dyslexics see the written word, try to read the paragraph below.

Now move your mouse cursor over the image! We hid all the "trigger words" that cause disorientation. To a dyslexic, they often seem to disappear from the page! (NOTE: if your browser is not javascript enabled, you will not be able to use the exercise above. If this is the case, please click here to see the same exercise in a text-based page.)

How Disorientation Undermines Conceptual Understanding
by Ronald D. Davis, author of The Gift of Dyslexia

Disorientation and distorted perceptions do more than create symptoms of dyslexia. The dyslexic or A.D.D. child uses disorientation for entertainment; he may be disoriented for hours on end creating an imaginary world of daydreams.

What we accept as reality is what we experience, so reality is what we perceive it to be. When disorientation occurs, perception becomes distorted. The person experiences a reality that is not experienced by others-a false, or alternate, reality. Because of frequent disorientation, many dyslexic or A.D.D. individuals do not learn the basic lessons of life as early as other children. Cause and effect do not exist in the disorienting child's imaginary, alternate reality world. Thus, the child never learns the concept of consequence.

Additionally, the child is also experiencing a distorted sense of time. A minute may seem very long or very short- but it is never the same. A person who experiences time uniformly will develop an inherent sense of how long it takes for a minute to pass. Most children have some awareness of time by age five; by age seven, they can sense the passage of five minutes. But the disorienting child will not develop this inherent sense of the passage of time, even as a teenager or adult.

With an inherent sense of time, we will also develop an inherent sense of sequence. We understand the way things follow each other one after another. If we have time and sequence, we will also develop an inherent sense of order as opposed to disorder. But without the sense of time, we can never progress through these steps.

How Disorientation Affects Attention

A child who is disoriented experiences the following problems:
· distortions in visual and auditory perceptions;
· a shift in time sense; and
· a reversal of balance and movement senses.

As we look at each of these, we can see how disorientation leads to behaviors associated with A.D.D., inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity.

Distorted Perceptions of Sound and Vision

A child who is experiencing distortions in sound either does not hear what people say to him, or hears their words inaccurately. So of course he responds inappropriately. He thinks he is doing what was asked, but others see him as exhibiting opposition, or acting without thinking.

Since his vision is also distorted, the child does not see the task at hand correctly or consistently, so he makes mistakes. Often, the child can stop the perceptual distortions and regain a sense of control by shifting his attention to something else. He got disoriented, could no longer see or hear the task, shifted his attention to something else in order to reorient, and never got back to finishing the task.

Time Sense Distortions

When a person's perception of time shifts or changes, his physical strength and stamina change. The child whose internal clock chronically moves faster lives two or three minutes while others are living only one. Not only does he have more time; he has greater strength and stamina. The world goes too slow for him and he goes too fast for everyone else. This can cause behavioral problems.

Impulsivity means acting before thinking. A child who thinks nonverbally -using picture thinking-is thinking many times faster than a child using verbal conceptualization. When the child seems to act on impulse, it's not that he didn't think things through. Rather, his mind raced so fast that it appeared he didn't have time to think.

Unfortunately, because of the child's habitually distorted perceptions, he does not grasp notions of consequence or orderliness. So his thoughts do not include awareness of socially acceptable constraints.

Difficulty taking turns is common because a child whose time sense is lacking will have little or no concept of order (vs. disorder), sequence and time. Being in line to take a turn on the slippery slide is being in a sequence, and there is an order of who goes next.

Without the concepts of time, sequence, and order, he cannot even be aware that the other children are waiting to go. With no sense of time, there can be no such thing as waiting.

Balance and Motion

The disorienting child can feelsas if he is moving when he is not. If he just tries to sit still, he is likely to feel sick to his stomach. So he counters the false sensation by starting to move. He becomes jittery, tapping his foot or bobbing his head. This actually makes him feel as if he is sitting still. He does not feel his restless motions; he is unaware of them until somebody points them out.

What Is The Solution?

A child cannot modify behavior he is unaware of, so the child must be given the tools of orientation. Then he can be taught to become aware of his internal time clock and energy level. After providing Orientation Counseling, a Davis Facilitator uses a technique called Dial Setting. This provides the child with an internal regulator so he gains personal control his internal clock. By having the child observe and become aware of how other's "dials" are set, the Facilitator gives the child a tangible way to match his own "dial" to the same level.

The Facilitator then helps the child to master the concept of consequence. Through Davis Symbol Mastery®, the child learns that everything that happens is a result of something else. Because of the child's past time sense distortions, he may have never before made the connection between his own actions, and the reactions of others.

Then the child masters the concepts of consequence, time, sequence, and order vs. disorder through continued clay modeling, guided by the Davis Facilitator.

It may take a little time for a child - or adult - to overcome ingrained habits. However, with Davis Orientation, the person no longer has distorted perceptions, and begins to experience the passage of time consistently. Soon he will be living in the same world as others around him, and will start to act accordingly.