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There are two basic kinds of learners: Verbal and Nonverbal. Intelligence does not play a role in this distinction—it is simply a difference in learning and thinking styles.

Verbal learners mainly think through the sound of words. In their mind, they hear their voice speaking to them. Verbal thought is linear and follows the structure of language. Thinking verbally consists of composing mental sentences, one word at a time, at about the same speed as speech.

Nonverbal learners mainly think in pictures. They identify words and objects by viewing them from infinite visual perspectives. They think with 3-dimensional, multi-sensory images that evolve and grow as the thought process adds more information or concepts. This thought process happens so much faster than verbal thinking that it is subliminal - explaining why dyslexics are often unaware of errors. "Picture-thinkers" experience little, if any, internal "dialogue" sounds, therefore, reading through phonics is nearly impossible, always frustrating, and sometimes painful.

Is the letter on the right "b" or "d"?

Which thinking style are you?

Are you a Verbal Thinker?

Are you a Nonverbal Thinker?

How does thinking style play a role in learning?

These videos are courtesy of fellow Davis Dyslexia Facilitator, Karen LoGiudice of New England Dyslexia Solutions in MA. Used with permission.

The Dyslexia Dilemma

A picture thinker can easily "picture a meaning" for words that represent objects and action verbs like: chair, pencil, run, and jump. However, they are unconsciously challenged when faced with certain abstract words like: the, was, if, and, were, in, on, as, or, that...and at least 209 others just like them (commonly known as “sight words”).

Those words are at the root of reading difficulties for a picture-thinker.


With no picture to process for each sight word, the reading material quickly loses meaning - causing confusion, frustration, and fatigue.

Consider, for a moment, that up to 60% of any written paragraph contains words that DO NOT allow a "picture thinker" to create a picture. Imagine, as a person who thinks in pictures, trying to obtain the real meaning of a paragraph when 60% of the words are words with which you cannot think!

Give it a try!

The ability to think in 3-dimensional, multi-sensory pictures is a talent that all Dyslexics share. It can, however, cause problems and confusion when it comes to 2-dimensional symbols and abstract words.

Nonverbal thought perceives from infinite views or perspectives and is "object" based:


Verbal thought is linear and sequential:


Professional services described as Davis®, Davis Dyslexia Correction®, Davis Symbol Mastery®, Davis Orientation Counseling®, and Davis Math Mastery® may only be provided by persons who are employed by a licensed Davis Specialist, or who are trained and licensed as Davis Facilitators by Davis Dyslexia Association International.

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