Dyslexic children advancing so fast

23:26, Nov 26 2013
Leon Schoenbeacher
Josh, 13, and Leone Schoenbachler at home in Frankton.

The discovery of a breakthrough new method in teaching dyslexics is already producing miraculous results for a handful of Queenstown kids.

Queenstown mum Leone Schoenbaechler was at the end of her tether a few years ago, after unsuccessfully trying every method available of helping her severely dyslexic son.

Josh, now 13, but diagnosed at five, was withdrawing from school and had been bullied by other kids. He was being blamed for a learning difficulty he had no control over.

"We tried school assessment programmes, the Ron Davis method, had Seabrook McKenzie assessments, Kip McGrath, you name it. It's cost us $20,000 to get to this point."

She took him to Auckland, aged 11, to seek help at private school, Wentworth College. It was there she met an elderly dyslexic woman, Zannie Danks Davis, and discovered a method of "decoding" words, devised by a dyslexic for dyslexics.

"He came out of her office spelling words. I burst into tears," Mrs Schoenbaechler said.


"He went up a year in reading, writing and spelling in just six months and skipped a year at school.

"His boosted confidence was the biggest thing."

Josh, who had been forced to give up competitive swimming to focus on his learning, was now flourishing.

"His gift for art has just blossomed. He's won a scholarship for music and thanks to his local church now has confidence to perform on stage. He's really becoming a leader - it's just so amazing," Mrs Schoenbaechler said.

Josh, a student at Kingsview School, said he now had "a massive ball of courage".

"When people kept bullying me, it affected my confidence."

It was a myth that dyslexia was "just mixing your letters", Mrs Schoenbaechler said.

"They have no short term memory and don't remember dates, times of the year. Time is not important to them. They also have difficulty focusing.

"School can be a horrible experience for them. Failure is a daily routine for these kids and many report abuse from teachers, parents and other kids," she said.

Now trained in the Danks Davis method, she is teaching other local students, whose parents are also gobsmacked by the results.

With just one hour a week of lessons they were all skipping levels rapidly at school.

"It's about using a spelling method to open the mind of words and it just sets these kids free," a delighted Mrs Schoenbaechler said.

Maree Wearing, mum of 8-year-old dyslexic Nicki, said the method made it so much simpler for Nicki to recall.

"She's just bolting through the levels of achievement."

In Nicki's words it was "like being set free from a box": "I feel really good and clever," Nicki said.

Rachel Baylis, mum of 10-year-old dyslexic Zoe, said she had to check if she had the right child when she read Zoe's last school assessment.

The Mirror