Laughton King is a retired psychologist whose contribution to the progressive dismantling of what is commonly called ‘dyslexia’ comes from his 70+ years as a ‘dyslexic’ person, and from 35 years as a psychologist working with children experiencing learning difficulties. Laughton’s difficulties with reading meant that he did not rely on the insights and conclusions of academics and scholars. Instead, through observation of his own and other’s learning processes, he established his own understanding of this unfortunately common difficulty.
School was a nightmare for Laughton. He could not decipher the language of the teacher and was confused that other kids could. His classroom failings led to social and behavioural failings, and for these he was labelled and blamed. In turn, his acceptance of the blame led directly to deep, prolonged depression.
Laughton describes his eventual self-diagnosis of dyslexia at age 45 years as like emerging from a dark cloud but lacking any sense or understanding of its causes or functional dynamics. Subsequent observations of thousands of children, their families and their teachers eventually led to practical insights regarding dyslexia as a daily life issue in a person’s interfaces with society through the various stage of life.
Alongside his long career as a psychologist, educational psychologist and mediator, Laughton is the author of three self-published works that represent the evolution of his understanding of the dyslexic mind: Reaching the Reluctant Learner: A Manual of Strategies for Teachers and Parents (2006), With, Not Against: A Compendium of Positive Parenting Strategies (2008), and Dyslexia Dismantled
Laughton King shares his understanding of the dyslexic mind from his own lived experience as a dyslexic child, an angry adolescent, a therapist and eventually an author. When describing what it is like to be dyslexic, he is includes himself. ‘We think in pictures, we chase words around the pages of books, and we have trouble finding any sensible connection between squiggles on paper and real things they are meant to refer to. And this all happens in perpetual reverse gear. You guessed it, for us, school is not cool, and for most of us this makes life tough.’
At the heart of this book is a ground-breaking concept — the diesel/petrol analogy. As Laughton describes it, a dyslexic person is like a diesel vehicle. They run perfectly if you give them the right fuel, but if you put petrol in the tank (i.e. expect them to learn like every ’normal’ child in our current education system) they break down. This book helps dyslexic (diesel) thinkers make sense of their lives, and provides valuable guidance for parents and teachers.
There is nothing wrong with the dyslexic child’s brain. They do not need medication and do not need to be ‘rewired’ nor ‘recalibrated’. Laughton’s message to parents and educators is that once they accept this processing difference and understand the dyslexic style of thinking they can readily work with these children and help them achieve their own success.
Michael Absolum, Evaluation Associates | Te Huinga Kākākura Mātauranga,
This book is the story of the author’s life and that of all the others like him. It paints a rich picture of the myriad of people who think in pictures, and how they experience life and compulsory education. It gives vast insights to people who are dyslexic or diesel, their parents, their teachers and everyone who has a wish to develop an appreciation of difference, of how to be inclusive and affirming. It shows us how to recognise and value the contribution that ‘people who think differently ’make to the lives of the rest of us.
David Simpson, 40 years involvement in Waldorf/Rudolf Steiner Schools Internationally,
For any teacher [or parent] who truly wishes to fully comprehend each and every child who stands before them Laughton’s book [or title ] is a must read. Filled with case studies that surely will resonate, and appropriate questions to ask oneself, this book will guide the teacher or parent in any such investigation. [Today] It is too easy for teachers to simply pass children on to ‘experts’ for diagnosis and at times , damaging, labelling . It is the challenge for each and every teacher or parent to undertake this task and Laughton’s book surely and clearly provides guidance to help with this process. While the issue of dyslexia provides the main thrust of this book Laughton also provides valuable insight into the many other labels that are prevalent today. I would have found this book invaluable at the beginning and during my more than 40 years of teaching and mentoring of teachers .