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Dyslexia Dubai – Solutions with NLP

April 14th, 2013 by Tony Barlow

NLP and Dyslexia in DubaiIf your child is having difficulties in school with reading, writing or  spelling,  most schools in Dubai will ask you to take your child to a specialist for an assessment.

After the assessment you will get a detailed report of the findings and sometimes a diagnosis may have a name such as dyslexia, mild dyslexia, auditory processing deficit or other.

These assessments are important to find out where your child currently stands compared to their peers, identify where the issues are and rule out more serious issues if you have some concerns.

In terms of offering you solutions to whatever your childs issues are this varies from nothing to some basic advice on what to do next.


In this Article:

  • The flaws in the ‘learning difficulties assessment process’
  • What I’ve found using NLP
  • Breakthrough Solutions using NLP

What the Assessments are missing

I believe, although useful for the reasons mentioned above, a ‘learning difficulties’ assessment has certain flaws that need to be addressed. (see also ‘The missing piece in our educational system’)

  • These assessments are based on the medical model of ‘identifying symptoms’ and diagnosis. They are looking at the observable results on the outside and not at the thought process happening on the inside. This is the major flaw in my opinion, because inside the thought process are often the answers to why the student is struggling.
  • There is an underlying belief that if a child is struggling severely with reading, spelling or literacy there is ‘something wrong’ neurologically. Although this may be true in some cases the vast majority of students who come to me with a diagnosis simply have a problem with the way they are thinking, which can be corrected.
  • The assessments are looking for ‘what is wrong’. As Richard Bandler often says “When you are looking for whats wrong, you’ll find it, When you look for solutions and what works, you’ll find that to.”
  • A child who has been told they are ‘Dyslexic’ can sometimes develop limiting beliefs about themselves which can (not always) make things worse.
  • There are some benefits to the diagnosis, such as extra time to take tests, extra tutoring. Some people feel relieved when they get the diagnosis “Oh, this means I’m not stupid, I have a real neurological condition” and they feel better.


Ok enough of me ranting about what I think is wrong with the current approach. Lets move now to a completely different way of looking at Dyslexia from my own NLP point of view.

First of all, what are the issues associated with the label ‘Dyslexia’. Typically Dyslexia is related to problems: learning the alphabet, reading distortions, reversing similar letters such as b’s and d’s, spelling, writing etc. I’m going to focus here on reading distortions.


What do I mean by ‘reading distortions’. This is the classic dyslexia symptom. The person will report that the words are moving on the page, mixing, or jumping up as they read. Words may appear or disappear.

This may seem like a vision problem (and in some cases it is). How can the words be mixing and moving ! !  What is going on here ?  All kinds of solutions have been proposed. Space the words out more, put special colored filters on the page etc.

My first experience of reading distortions was as follows:

A 13 year old boy came into my office in Abu Dhabi complaining of reading issues and he already had a dyslexia diagnosis. I asked him to read from his school book and I noticed the following:

Some words he read just fine – which showed me he did have the ability to read, and his issue was only in the context of certain words.

Other words he would start to squint and was not able to read the word.

So I asked him, “When you come to a word and you are having trouble and you squint your eyes like that, whats happening ?”

“The letters are mixing” was his reply or “The words sometimes flip over or move around”.

I was curious to know why he could read some words just fine but not others.

What I discovered was, only if he didn’t recognize the word it would start to distort and move.

(I have had many other students where all the words on the page move and the same solution applies.)


So how can this possibly be ? How can words move on the page ? If you are familiar at all with NLP or Hypnosis you will have heard of a visual hallucination / distortion. This occurs when you see something that isn’t there (positive hallucination) or you don’t see something that is there (negative hallucination) .

It works something like this:

When you are looking at an object you are not directly seeing it. The light from the object hits your retina which sends the data to the brain. The brain then interprets the data and creates an image. In other words your brain is creating the image that you see, you are not seeing it directly.

Your brain is capable of changing the image, if it gets confused, it will fill in what it thinks should be there. The same thing can occur with sound (auditory hallucination / distortion)


Visual Distortion

illusionTake a look at the image to the left, is anything moving ?

I’m sure you’ve seen these types of visual illusions before. The image is perfectly still.

I’m giving this as an example of how your brain can change what your eye is seeing.

The brains response to the confusion is to hallucinate movement.
Auditory Distortion

In this video the man is saying ‘BAA’ the whole time.

Close you eyes and listen again to prove it to yourself.

When you see his lips moving as if he is saying ‘FAA’ your brain will get confused and change what you are hearing to FAA.

This is an example of an auditory distortion / hallucination. The brain responds to the confusion and changes what you are hearing (The visual overrides the auditory, Known as the McGurk Effect).


While the boy mentioned above was reading and reporting to me that some of the words were moving on the page. I recognized it as a visual distortion / hallucination and I realized it was similar to a person who has a fear of heights.

I had worked with several height phobics who would feel sick even when they imagined looking from a high place. So I asked them, “When you are looking over that 5 story building balcony, what happens?”  They told me that everything sways, moves or shrinks down suddenly. Of course nothing is moving or swaying it’s just a visual distortion and that’s what was causing the sick feeling. It’s nothing to do with the height its the internal response of the person ie. the visual distortion.

With this kind of fear that has a visual distortion component I use an NLP technique called a swish pattern which re teaches the brain to have a different response and its a very common technique in NLP.

You have the person imagine looking over the edge and just as the image starts to distort you have them move another image in from the side which is completely still. This is repeated around 10 times or so to condition a new response. Now, when the person looks over the edge there is no visual distortion and therefore no sick feeling or fear of heights.

I simply tried the same thing with this boy, I used the NLP swish pattern to stop the reading distortions and it worked !! and its been working with 95% of ‘dyslexic readers’  I’ve seen over the last few years. See this method in detail in the below article

CLICK HERE Correct Dyslexia reading distortions using the NLP Swish pattern.

This is something I am very proud of because as of this writing I don’t know of anyone else who is using this solution. The only method that attempts to provide a solution to dyslexia reading distortions that I have tried is the Davis Method. Ron Davis also talks about the brains confusion response but has a different way of stopping the distortions which has sometimes worked for my students.

If anybody out there knows of other solutions to reading distortions please let me know maybe I’m just out of touch but all I hear are ‘neurological’ deficit explanations.

Dyslexia Dubai Help and Support – START NOW

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Thank you for reading this article (Dyslexia Dubai – Solutions with NLP.) I really appreciate you coming to my site, I hope you are enjoying and benefiting from the information here. This site is designed to be the ultimate free resource for students / parents of struggling students.

Recommended book on NLP related to this article: ( Dyslexia Dubai / Solutions with NLP.)  Robert Dilts Phd. Co Developer of NLP.  Dynamic Learning.

Please leave a comment below because I’d love to hear what you think!

Thanks again, and good luck!

28 Responses to “Dyslexia Dubai – Solutions with NLP”

April 29, 2013 at 11:18 am, Julie Bartlett said:

Hi Tony, my son has great difficulties reading and learning spellings and I was considering taking him for a Dyslexia test. After reading you article I asked him if any of the words are moving while he is reading and he told me that yes they do and when he is reading smaller text it seems to get worse.
I am familiar with NLP but not enough to know how to use a ‘swish pattern’ to help him. I don’t live in UAE anymore can you help me ?


April 29, 2013 at 11:24 am, Tony Barlow said:

Hi Julie, Thanks for your comment. For my clients outside of the UAE I conduct sessions by online video call.
The session could be for your son directly (depending on his age) or for you so that you can help him.
I will send you my online intake for to fill out and we’ll get started. (Please expect a 1 to 2 week waiting period for a session)


October 12, 2013 at 5:33 pm, Sandra Scott said:

Hi Tony,

Our daughter has been diagnosed with dyslexia. She describes text moving as well. Her sight words move down to the bottom of the page and then back up again. She has been doing 2 months of Orton Gillingham training, which seems to be helping. She is now also experiencing non-text related visual hallucinations, such as faces peeking around doors at her, faces in the curtains etc. Do you think this might be new connections in the brain creating new sensations? Do you think NLP could help? Of course I am worried about more serious causes…. We are in Canada.


October 12, 2013 at 6:47 pm, Tony Barlow said:

Hi there, Let me ask you a couple of questions.
Sight words moving down and up.
Q: Does this only happen on some words, such as words she is not familiar with ? If she is able to read familiar words just fine but words she is not sure of move down and up then this is good news because it is a correctable visual distortion and probably rules out any eyesight issue.
Or do words move randomly ? Or is it the entire line or page moving ? Any pattern you can identify as to when the distortion occurs is useful.
Diagnosed with Dyslexia
Q: What other issues are there other than the visual distortions while reading, what are the specific issues, e.g. spelling, reading, letter reversals etc.
Q: How old is she.
Non text related visual hallucinations
Many kids have imaginary friends that seem quite real and some people can hallucinate visually very well, this can be considered a skill and a huge advantage to have in terms of creativity etc. But a disadvantage for some school tasks unless they are taught to control and bring the distortions under their command.
If you could answer the above I can give you a more detailed answer as to what you can do with NLP.


November 06, 2013 at 11:51 pm, Frustating Mom said:

My son is 12 and diagnosed has ADD. Psyhtrician said he has also dyslexia. But I don’t see he has problem with visual distortion. Only the problem of concentration. Can NLP solve this problem ?
Thanks Tony!


November 07, 2013 at 5:18 pm, Tony Barlow said:

Hi, Dyslexia can mean a lot of different things. The classic issue is mixing of words or reversing letters etc. But students who have for whatever reason fallen behind their peers in school will often come back with a ‘mild dyslexia’ or Dyslexia diagnosis.
To me a diagnosis of ADD or Dyslexia means very little as I have been able to reverse these types of diagnosis more times than I can count.
There is an article on my site here that goes into ADD a little more.

Please keep in mind that the traditional viewpoint on ADD, Dyslexia etc. is in my opinion flawed. I believe that the these students simply do not know HOW to focus their mind or HOW to use their minds to learn effectively or they have a missing step or to many steps in their mental process. (Of course there are extreme cases where there probably is a neurological deficiency) but most students simply need to be taught how.

Using NLP I have been able to teach students HOW to concentrate and focus their minds. Once the student knows how to focus, the other ADD symptoms of distractibility, Impulsiveness, Lack of organization etc. tend to go away.

The reason NLP can have such a dramatic effect is because no one else is looking INSIDE the thinking process of these students and showing them new ways to use their mind. Everyone is telling them to ‘concentrate’, ‘focus’ but doesn’t tell them HOW to do that.

I’ll be happy to chat with you further on Skype.
Thanks for your question.


March 21, 2014 at 9:06 pm, Lamia alkhalifa said:

Hi ,
My daughter is now 16 and is facing a lot of difficulties with exams she
Has been tested for ADD but not dyslexia … I was wondering if she might have it
Because she almost has all of the symptoms of dyslexia she studies so hard but gets confused when tested.
We live in bahrain and might visit Dubai next week, hope we can set up a meeting.
Thanks ,


March 21, 2014 at 9:15 pm, Tony Barlow said:

Hi Lamia,
ADD and Dyslexia symptoms are closely related. They are both to do with a lack of control over your own thought process, which I believe can be corrected.
I’ll be happy to meet with you in Dubai, if not I can help you over Skype.


April 28, 2014 at 7:25 am, Kamal said:

Hi Tony

I am an NLP practitioner and a dear friend came to me with a dyslexia problem and I want to help after I speak with you.

Can you pass on your numbers to me so that we can have a chat?


May 29, 2014 at 1:34 am, MARY said:

Hi Tony

My son get confused when he read small common words (read “a” the” how – who” substitute words from form – skip ending- he used to put letters out of sequence and reverse b& d, but not anymore after the eye exercise we done for him. When he writes the idea of the writing is like an adult but it need s to be connected – it’s missing something, Is that really dyslexia or Adhd ..everyone tells me something different please advice
I’m from Australia.Regards Mary


July 26, 2014 at 12:49 pm, Sadaf Barry said:

My 9 year old son was diagnosed as moderate dyslexic last year. He then attended a 4 week intervention program in Dubai at IngeniousEd. I would like to get fresh tests done this year. I don’t live in Dubai, but we often visit and can stay long enough for the testing/screening. How can i schedule a date and time for the purpose?


September 23, 2014 at 8:30 am, Ghada said:

Dear Tony,
I have a 7 year old child in RIS Abu Dhabi, since last year I have noticed that he is below average in writing and spelling, especially in sight words that he is familiar with in reading and are common to his age . I worked for 1 whole year with him ( grade 1) on phonics and sight words and we are on zero level this year, no advancement. His reading is very good but his spelling and writting are not that good. Letters always disappear from words , even familiar words. He also spell the word sometimes with the correct letters but the letters are misplaced . His numbers are still written with an opposit image direction.
I would truly like to discuss with you furthure his case.
Please email me


January 20, 2015 at 2:11 pm, Rene Pieterse said:

Do you do any dyslexia testing on Saterdays , as for we are from Saudi.


April 02, 2015 at 1:08 pm, Tony Barlow said:

Hi Sorry I don’t do any tests for Dyslexia, I can recommend someone for you if you like. I use NLP to help students with Dyslexia to improve.


April 02, 2015 at 11:48 am, Tania said:

Hi .
My daughter is 5and half . She difficulty with reading and spellings.( and hence writing too ) . If she memorises 5 words for a spelling test ; she fogets all she has learnt in a couple of days. She tries to read and spell using phonics exclusively. Very difficult for her to remember sight words. Is she too young to be tested and I should wait till she turns 6 ?


April 02, 2015 at 1:00 pm, Tony Barlow said:

Hi Tania thanks for your questions.
-If she memorizes 5 words for a test she forgets them in a couple of days.
This is fairly common among students who try to remember spellings by saying the letters to themselves such as h-a-p-p-y over and over, or they may write the spellings out a few times. This does not create a strong memory of the word. What she needs to do is to remember words primarily as mental pictures. The solution is to hold a mental picture of the word in your mind for a full 5-10 seconds, then it should stick. So you 1st need to make her aware that she can visualize in pictures. Then get her to visualize words.
Keep in mind that seeing a word on a page is NOT the same as seeing a picture in your mind. Even if you take 1 letter at a time from a word like dog, get her to write each letter with her hand in the air and make sure she is picturing it AWAY from the page, this is what makes it work, not just seeing the word on a page a few times. The only thing that can stop this working is if her mental pictures are not stable, she tries to picture the word and it moves or disappears, then you need to first teach her to stabilize things first.

-She tries to read and spell using phonics exclusively
This is an impossible task as 40% or more of English words don’t look like they sound, learning reading and spelling using phonics just makes it harder and is a total waste of time in my opinion. For example try to read the following words by sounding out the letters ‘one’, ‘two’, ‘caught’ It doesn’t work ! Spelling based on the sound of the word is an equally impossible task. Unfortunately schools still believe in the phonics system.
If you can tell me HOW she is trying to remember ‘sight words’ ? I can probably give you a solution. Because this is what she needs to be able to do and what all good readers do.
-Is she to young to be tested
Can’t answer this, I don’t do tests for Learning Difficulties. Although they can be important and useful in some cases, to know where your child stands, or to get extra time in school etc. they don’t offer much in terms of solutions and a diagnosis does not mean much in my book, as they don’t look at the specific thinking process a person is using and that is where the issue normally lies.
Sorry for the long answer, hope it helps.


May 27, 2015 at 5:34 pm, Liam Brett said:

> Just a quick thought on phonics, I do think it is a wonderful method for learning to read, two of my 3 sons have used phonics to learn to read, the third not old enough just yet. It is great to see them build words on the fly as they read. While you mention the words that do not look like they sound, these are built on exceptions or variations to the standard sound(s) of a letter or letter combination, these are taught as special cases and children very quickly become adept at cycling through the possibilities or variations in sound for the letter combinations in front of them, you might say it becomes automatic once the neural pathways are made, more than a little bit like nlp.

In general I find what you have written here very encouraging, I happened across it as I am researching Dyslexia as I have recently found out a friend of mine is ‘dyslexic’ and gets very frustrated that it is holding him back so much.

So much the world has dismissed behavioural/learning problems as something people have to just cope with or learn to deal with. As you say people who are ‘dyslexic’ are often ‘encouraged’ by someone, with maybe the best of intentions, telling them to concentrate. A good friend once described pity as the most useful emotion on the planet, what good is it if you feel pity for someone or something and do nothing about it. Though I had never thought about how to concentrate on something, I think pity with out action is just as useless as telling someone to concentrate without telling them how.

Thank you.

May 27, 2015 at 7:20 pm, Tony Barlow said:

Hi Liam thanks for the comment. I think that early on when first learning to read, learning the sounds of the letters and letter combinations is probably essential, as this will give you a chance with 50% of words that look like they sound especially early on. But as soon as possible move onto learning whole words, this is a shorter route in my experience, as recognizing whole words quickly is the end game. Although you can learn both ways.
The method that’s used doesn’t seem that important, but what the student is doing inside their thought process is. If the child is having problems that’s the place to look. Sounds like your kids are doing just fine.
I think you can be successful with just about any method that exposes kids to letters, words and reading as long as their internal process is effective. (The key being to associate the sight of words with the sound of words neurologically)
At the end of the day when you end up as a fluent reader, you are familiar with a large mental database of visually remembered words and immediately on seeing the word the sound pops into your mind. As you are reading this I’m sure that’s what you’re experiencing, you can scan quickly across the words and the sounds of the words just pop into your internal dialogue and figuring out sound combinations has long gone.
Cycling through variations of letter combinations unconsciously may be what is happening and this is an explanation given by phonics method advocates. What I think is equally likely is that when you already know what ‘train’ sounds like you can guess what ‘brain’ would be, so you could say the same for the whole word method.
So in summary, learning sounds early on, then quickly progressing to whole words asap seems to be the fastest route. Kids who carry on to long trying to sound out words tend to get slowed down.
Read through the following paragraph and it should demonstrate that (after you are a fluent reader) your mind is not deciphering sounds of letters and letter combinations as the phonics theory would have us believe, but your mind can manage to read with only a hint of what the word is.
Here we go:
I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg: the pweor of the hmuan mnid. Aoccdrnig to a rseearch taem at Nottngiham Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it.

On your other comment regarding ‘Dyslexia’ I’m sure you’ve found in your research everything from ‘It doesn’t exist’ to many other explanations. I should probably update my article as my view has shifted somewhat as I come across more students. There are many variations of Dyslexic issues and every person is somewhat unique. There are certain ‘Symptoms’ that look like Dyslexia that are very correctable using NLP such as the visual distortions mentioned in my article.
What annoys me is when the school systems and psychologists only look at the ‘symptom’ such as words moving on the page, or letter reversals and they assume its a neurological deficiency. There are so many students who can be turned around by adjusting their internal unconscious thought process using NLP. When I come across students with genuine brain deficiencies its very different and a much more difficult task to get any improvement. The problem is every case gets labeled the same so some kids suffer in school unnecessarily.
Ok I’d better stop talking now, I could go on all day. If you want the NLP perspective for your research let me know, I’d hate to think that you were only looking at the traditional educational system point of view.

May 28, 2015 at 3:03 pm, Liam said:

Thanks for your response Tony. I would certainly welcome your NLP perspective, I wont say on ‘dyslexia’ rather on reading difficulties and challenges. I am certainly not looking at the traditional educational system viewpoint as my friend is many years past the educational system which does not seem to have helped him very much in this regard.

Any information or guidance to reference material would be much appreciated.

Thanks again – Liam.

p.s. I vrey mcuh lkeid the jbmueld up stnenece dmeontrastoin of the pewor of the bairn we hvae been belsesd whit!


July 09, 2015 at 9:08 am, Faiyaz said:

My child is 13 year old and struggling in Maths, Arabic and French. Almost all other subject he performs below average. He had problems reading and writing from early stage. He always did spelling mistakes and even does now. Very early he used to write b instead of p and w instead of m or similar things. We worked on him for this and he improved. We take his studies regularly but yet he is not able to score. We always feel that he cannot understand the question or takes too long to understand a question or maybe cannot analyze a question. The end result is with all the effort and knowledge, he barely passes. His handwriting is very bad even after he was send for hand-writing improvement. We need help and want him to get evaluated so that we can proceed. We need to meet. Please advise.


September 06, 2015 at 7:44 am, Tony Barlow said:

Hi, thanks for your comment. I will email you to discuss further.


January 05, 2016 at 5:37 pm, Mrs obaid said:

From the readings I am suspecting that my son is suffering from dyslexia. However being a young adult and at college it has brought a very low esteem into him and I guess depressed us as parents. The college is the one who has alerted us that it could be dyslexia. Where can I take him for a testing. He is an 18 year old and his senior years he has been struggling with his exams with so much time and effort put in he is giving up.

Please provide me a listing of centers who can test and coach/train him if this is the case.


February 06, 2016 at 1:17 pm, Tony Barlow said:

I would be happy to work with your son and help him to get through his senior years in college.
I suggest that we set up a phone or skype chat so that I can find out more details about exactly what his problems are and how I could help.
Please contact me by email and let me know a time / day when either yourself or your son can be contacted.

December 11, 2015 at 2:55 pm, Mellisa said:

I am a teacher want to do a certificate course on handling dyslexic childrne please help


December 12, 2015 at 5:14 am, Tony Barlow said:

Hi Mellisa,
My online course ‘Coaching Students with NLP’ would certainly help you in working with Dyslexia, for which I do provide a certificate at the end of the course. If you need to be certified by a recognized Dyslexia organization I wouldn’t know what to advise you and would depend on which country you are in.


February 20, 2016 at 10:21 am, guillaine said:

Hi tony, my son is 5yrs old and has difficulty in writing letters like the letter “e”will look upside down J’ will turn on the right side confuses number 9 and 6 if i try to force him to write he just say ” i can’t”. And seems scared. He reconise letters only with pictures in kids books. When it says like Ani apple, buncing ben, clever cat if it’s’a single letter like “a” he wiill call it anni apple even i tell him no it’s’called letter “a” i don’t know if it his teacher method of tesching that’s’misslead him or he has issues. We leave in cape town( south Africa) i don’t know whrere or who to turn to. Please advice


May 15, 2016 at 6:19 am, Anais Gomez said:

Hi Tony, my son has 8 years old and he has dyslexia, we moved to dubai 8 months ago and he doesn’t know english, i need help him, Where Or how can i contact you? Thanks


January 16, 2017 at 6:04 pm, Nidhi Rao said:

I am a shadow teacher for a dyslexic child , want to do a certificate course on handling dyslexic child please help.


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