Questions Regarding the
Teachings of ACIM


QUESTION: How does a dyslexic person read A Course In Miracles?

ANSWER:  Dyslexia is the term for a specific learning disability (SLD) that makes reading very difficult. For some with dyslexia it makes reading profoundly difficult and even emotionally painful. This difficulty with reading has nothing to do with intelligence. Many brilliant and famous people have been dyslexic. Dyslexia affects millions of people, probably far more people than those of us who are not dyslexic would suspect. The problem presented by dyslexia is very significant to those of us who follow the spiritual path set forth by A Course in Miracles, because the path is deeply bookish. Walking this path effectively involves a great deal of reading with a high level of comprehension. I don't think there is any way to overstate the importance of reading to this path. Some of us may be dyslexic, and those of us who are not dyslexic may encounter ACIM students who are dyslexic. I have learned that there is a solution to dyslexia, and in this article I'm going to tell what I've learned.


I'll start by saying that I'm not an expert in dyslexia, and I have no formal training with regards to any specific learning disabilities. However, I have a remarkable story to tell about dyslexia. Since I'm not an expert, I'm simply going to tell the story. It's a story of guidance and of healing. It's a story of a young boy who was profoundly dyslexic and who UTTERLY conquered his dyslexia. It's the story of a solution that is accessible to everyone. 


The youth I'm writing about is my son, Luke. As is the case with many dyslexics, Luke is very smart. He has shown signs of being intellectually gifted since he was very young. In spite of his potential, in his early years in school he struggled and lagged badly. The disconnect between his intelligence and his academic experience was glaring. During the fall of Luke's third grade year, his mother (and my former wife, Cay) decided that we should have Luke tested for learning disabilities. I can never give her enough credit for taking the initiative at this point. I'm sure if she had not resolved upon taking this step it would have been years before I would have had the sense to do it.


We took Luke to a PhD psychologist who specializes in specific learning disabilities. At that point I didn't know anything about SLDs, and as far as I remember Cay didn't either. Neither of us knew that Luke was suffering from dyslexia. The only thing we knew for sure was that he was suffering with his schoolwork. The first thing the psychologist told us was that there are numerous different SLDs, and that there is a battery of psychological tests that can be used to make a diagnosis. In some cases the diagnosis can be quite accurate. Luke took the tests that the psychologist recommended. After about a week Cay and I returned to her office to get the results. She was very specific in her diagnosis. "Luke has dyslexia", she said. "I don't see a lot of cases of pure dyslexia, but Luke is the real deal. This is as clear-cut as I've ever seen for dyslexia."   


It was something of a shock to me to have a diagnosis with a clinical name on it, and at the same time it was something of a relief to have the clarity of knowing what Luke was up against. Talking with Cay as we left the office, we resolved to try to find a way to help Luke. For my part, I decided to start by educating myself on dyslexia. I quickly learned that a book about dyslexia had recently been written by one of the leading experts on dyslexia. That book, Overcoming Dyslexia, by Sally Shaywitz, was an overview of the field of dyslexia, written for lay person and especially for parents of dyslexic children. I bought the book and made a disciplined schedule of working my way through it. Although it discussed all of the most widely accepted approaches for dealing with dyslexia, to my mind none of them seemed very promising. None of the well-known approaches claimed to cure dyslexia. None of them included any cases of actually defeating dyslexia. They all involved a great deal of work and promised only limited progress. What I was reading about was methods for coping with dyslexia.   


The psychologist who tested Luke also had some methods for dealing with dyslexia, and we plunged into them with complete dedication. After a while Cay and I both felt that these approaches were lacking, so we switched to another PhD psychologist who also specialized in SLDs. She tested Luke and she also diagnosed him as being a pure dyslexic. She had her own approaches to dyslexia, which involved several hours every week of one-on-one reading coaching by another psychologist. Luke's reading coach specialized in dyslexia and had a masters degree in psychology. We put Luke in this program.


Luke continued to struggle. Although Luke's reading may have improved incrementally as he grew older, he was rapidly falling farther and farther behind his peers. I could not observe any progress from the several hours per week of coaching by the specialist in dyslexia. As Luke advanced through third grade and into the fourth, the emotional toll on him increased dramatically. There's a tremendous difference between a first or second grader being behind his peers in school and a fourth grader falling farther and farther behind his peers. I remember anguish-filled moments when my brilliant son would tell me that he was so stupid that he shouldn't even be alive.


I was still trying to educate myself on dyslexia, but I was running into my own roadblock. After I finished Overcoming Dyslexia, I bought numerous additional books on dyslexia. I would usually spend an hour or so reading at bedtime every night, so I kept my dyslexia books next to my bed. I made some progress but not much. Everything I read seemed dense; nothing seemed to offer a way forward with much hope. There was one book in particular that I could simply not force myself to read: The Gift of Dyslexia, by Ron Davis. The title made me furious. Seeing the daily emotional trauma that Luke was suffering, I thought that calling dyslexia a "gift" was downright cruel. Night after night, for at least a year, I went to bed telling myself I should read that book, but not being able to do it. Night after night I read on other topics instead of dyslexia. Night after night I felt guilty for not reading about dyslexia, for not educating myself further to the point where I could help my son.


We spent Christmas break of Luke's fourth grade year in Hawaii. My children were spending the first half of the break with me and the second half of the break with their mother in Tampa. I was their escort on the flight back Tampa. Since I was staying in Hawaii for several more weeks, my plan was to fly with them to Tampa and then turn around and fly back to Hawaii. As I packed up to escort my children home, the very last thing I did was to pack a book to read on the airplane. Stacked next to my bed were several books that I planned to read. I picked a book on child-raising and headed out the bedroom -- we were almost late for our flight. As I neared the door I was stopped by an experience that I will never forget. It was like a command thundered into my mind, a command that was very forceful and utterly unchallengeable. I felt as if a overwhelming physical force blocked my path, like I could not take another step forward even if I tried with all my might. I didn't try because very explicit words, words that I will never forget, exploded into my mind: "Don't take that book. Take this book instead." And as the words were spoken into my mind, my head was turned back to the bedside table and my eyes could see only one thing: The Gift of Dyslexia, by Ron Davis. I realized what was happening, switched books, gathered up my children, and headed for the airport.


I delivered the children to Cay in Tampa, took a shower, and returned to the airport. I flew to Los Angeles and spent the night there. The next morning I boarded a flight for Honolulu. Immediately after I took my seat I put on noise-cancelling headphones, pulled out The Gift of Dyslexia, and began to read.

After over a year ...


............. of telling myself every night that it was my duty to read it, after a year of not being able to force myself to read it, after a year of feeling guilty night after night for not reading it, suddenly reading it was effortless.  By the time I was into the second or third chapter I felt electrified.  There were points at which I was getting goose-bumps.  With the headphones on I was oblivious to everything that was happening around me, and I completed most of the book on the flight.  Davis's approach was radically different from anything that I had read by the recognized experts on dyslexia.  For the first time I was feeling the hope of victory.  When I felt the plane begin the long and gradual descent into Honolulu, I removed the headphones and began to pack my things.  At that point I heard for the first time the two ladies seated to my left talking.  They were discussing learning disabilities.  After a few minutes I interrupted.  "I don't mean to be eavesdropping, but I couldn't help hearing that you're talking about learning disabilities.  My son has dyslexia, and I'm wondering whether either of you know anything about it."  One lady said she didn't know anything about dyslexia.  The other lady said "I don't know anything about dyslexia, but my friend has a son who was dyslexic.  They took him to an institute in California, and a week later he came home having essentially conquered his dyslexia.  It was miraculous."  I asked her the name of the institute, hoping it would be Ron Davis' institute, but she didn't know.  I asked her if she knew where in California it was located.  "It's in the San Francisco Bay area, but I don't know which city.  I do remember that they have a book with a very distinctive cover."  I pulled out The Gift of Dyslexia, and she said "That's it!"

Having been on a spiritual path for a long time, I realized that the synchronicity was guidance.  If I had read the book at any other point in time, either earlier or later, I probably wouldn't have taken any action on it.  I would have just filed it away as another possibility, and the action I was supposed to take would have gotten swept away in the hurricane of "busy doings" that was my life in those days.  But this guidance was too clear to ignore.  First the force that  prevented me from leaving my room in Hawaii without the book, then the voice, and now the coincidence of direct personal confirmation at the very moment that I was reading the book.  In March of Luke's fourth grade year we spent a week at the Davis Dyslexia Correction Center in Burlingame, California.  After a week of training, they sent us home with the assignment to do daily exercises.  These exercises took about thirty minutes a day for about eight or ten months.

Before we started the Davis program Luke was reading far below grade level, and every word was difficult and traumatic for him.  While we applied the Davis program the progress Luke made was incredible.  From the time that we first received the diagnosis of dyslexia Cay and I had done guided reading with Luke.  Before we went to the Davis center these sessions were traumatic, tear-filled experiences.  Once he literally tore a book in two in his frustration and anguish.  There was nothing more hated and painful to him than reading.  Within a few months of starting the Davis program Luke became a reading fanatic.  Many nights after I mandated lights out, he would hide under his covers with a flashlight and a book so he could keep reading.  Luke was freeing himself from dyslexia, not just learning to cope with it.  The pace of his progress was stunning.

I had home-schooled Luke for the second half of his fourth grade year and all of his fifth grade year.  After the fifth grade Cay and I felt that Luke was doing so well that he could return to the regular classroom environment.  During Luke's sixth grade year the school system didn't give any standardized reading tests.  It was at the start of Luke's seventh grade year that we fully realized the miracle that had occurred  All of the students in Luke's grade took a standardized reading test.  The results were scored by grade level, with the highest level being "college".  Of course the standard was for seventh grade students to score at the seventh grade level.  This seventh-grader, who two and a half years earlier had been academically and emotionally crippled by dyslexia, scored off the top of the scale, "above college level", on his standardized reading test.

I imagine that many people reading this article will ask questions like:  "If Davis has determined both the cause and the cure for dyslexia, why is his method ignored by the traditional SLD industry, the traditional dyslexia establishment, and the great majority of educators?  If the Davis method is normally leading to results that are completely unheard of in the traditional establishment, why are they ignoring him?"  I'm sure that books could be written about why solutions get ignored by the professionals whose day-to-day work includes paying attention to, and then offering, solutions that emerge in their field.  Those aren't the sort of questions that this article is attempting to write.  I've seen the same dynamic at work in many areas of life -- important solutions emerge but are largely ignored.  The dynamic should be familiar to ACIM students, as ACIM itself presents a prominent example of that dynamic.  My purpose in this paragraph is to make this point:  the fact that the Davis method is not universally recognized as the solution to dyslexia does not mean very much.  It's just another example of real solutions being ignored.

The question that I started with was "How does a dyslexic person read A Course In Miracles?"  Stating again that I am not a trained expert in this field and can only relate what I have seen, I think the answer is:  "Both the cause and the solution to dyslexia are known now.  The solution is easily available.  Contact Davis Dylexia and overcome dyslexia like others have, and then reading A Course in Miracles will be easy and enjoyable."

Bart Bacon

* Bart Bacon received a BA in Physics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania. He served as an officer in the United States Marine Corps and was the founder and president of a money management firm. He has studied the ancient teachings of Jesus sinceBart at Estes Cone his youth. He first encountered ACIM in 1977 as a freshman in college when a friend loaned him the Manual for Teachers and has studied the course continuously since 1985. He has been an active participant in and supporter of the ACIM movement with particular emphasis on supporting translation of ACIM into other languages.

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