Information about dyslexia and the Cat Model, Q&A

The Cat model in brief
In the Cat model, we work with inner images and mental training. We assume that reading and writing is an internal process in each pupil. Our pedagogy, which has been thoroughly tested, teaches the pupils to use their senses in a way that resembles that of a person who has never had any reading or writing difficulties. You choose yourself when you want to practise, whether you’re at home on the couch, on the beach or in the car. You set your own pace and your own terms.

The first thing we teach in the Cat model is how you form a clear word image. This is explained in accordance with the latest research in a clear and concise manner.

How long does it take and how does it work?
The Cat model is taught in one day. After taking the course, the pupil needs to keep practising. It is usually enough to practise 1 to 3 minutes a day. There are three ways of learning the Cat model.
1) Private lessons: You learn with a teacher from the Cat model in private. This takes between 2 and 5 hours. After the course you need to practise on your own, 1 to 3 minutes a day.
2) Group lessons: Our most popular alternative. You and your child/pupil with dyslexia will be part of a group of a maximum of 10 persons. We spend the day working together. After the course, you need to practise on your own, 1 to 3 minutes a day.
3) Municipalities: This alternative is for teachers and other pedagogues who want to prevent dyslexia and help people with reading and writing difficulties.

Can you really overcome dyslexia in one day?
The Cat model is taught in one day and a lot of the time a result is notable the following day. The course lays the foundation for reading and writing correctly, but a dyslexic person has often missed years, sometimes even decades, of reading and writing, which means that he or she has a lot to catch up on. It takes practice, exposure to text, i.e. time to catch up on all the information that has been missed. It can be likened to a golfer who’s got the basic golf club technique wrong, or a tennis player who doesn’t use his racket right. A talented coach can correct the mistake but the golfer has to keep practising his swing and the tennis player has to practise his hits to make it work.

What kind of result should I expect?
Independent tests have shown that pupils who used the method doubled their reading speed and improved their spelling by 167 per cent after only 6 months. All the pupils in the test had been assessed previously and they had received special need education between the ages 3 to 6 years.
Participants have reported that they read with less difficulty the day after the course, and that they are able to spell words that they had never been close to spelling before. But, as stated in the answer above, it takes a lot to make up for what’s been missed. It means learning everything from scratch, but this time the right way around. If you practise 1 to 3 minutes a day it will take from a few months to a few years to learn how to read and write just like a person who has never had any problems.

Does it work for everyone?
The great majority of people can learn to read and write smoothly by means of the Cat model. However, we have certain reservations regarding whether it’s appropriate for someone to take our courses. The pupil must know the letters of the alphabet and it won’t work if he or she has neurological damage. If the pupil speaks and understands Swedish correctly (or another language), it is likely that he or she has what it takes to learn the Cat model.


In school we were taught to sound the words. And you speak about word images?
Sounding the words is not a very good strategy for learning how to read and write. Some have even pointed out that it can be an obstacle. Written language is a model of the spoken language, and just like other models it doesn’t tell the whole truth. We write GREAT and GRATEFUL. Why EA and why A? Many words sound like they ought to be spelt in one way but they aren’t. Even if there is a phonetic or auditive component in reading and writing, the word image has to be constructed correctly. After all, when you read, information enters through your eyes and not your ears.
According to traditional teaching methods dyslexic children cannot here phonemes, but despite this they are able to speak and understand a language normally. In Stockholm there is a special needs school for children with impaired hearing and children who have been deaf all their lives, and yet they are able to read and write well. The fact is that they very rarely misspell a word. It is evident that those children aren’t spelling according to phonemes.

Who is behind the Cat model?
The technique uses mental images, and that idea was originally formed in the USA in the 1980s. The same thoughts were developed and refined by Robert Johansson, who is the founder of the Cat model.
Why is it called the Cat model?
For a very simple reason. The word cat is the first word that we practise.

I want to find out more about mental images. Do you have any suggestions?
There are several researchers who have studied this. One of the leading experts in the field is Stephen Kosslyn, professor of psychology at Harvard University in Cambridge, USA. He has published over 200 papers on the subject of mental images. He claims that we process mental images in a similar way to how we process perceptual data. His theory supports the Cat model and our method for forming mental images. More information about Stephen Kosslyn is available on his website.

I would like to know more about the research that’s been done on the Cat model. Is there more information available?
A number of studies have been carried out on the Cat model and the methods that it is based on. There is one study by Thomas Malloy, professor of psychology at the University of Utah. There is another study carried out by F. Loiselle at the University of Moncton in New Brunswick, Canada, in 1985. The results of both studies support the method behind the Cat model. You can read Thomas Malloy’s study here (pdf document in English).
The Swedish website (”Everything about school”) carried out an independent study which showed that the pupils improved their reading speed by 70-108 per cent and their spelling by 167 per cent after only 6 months.
If you want to do research on the Cat model or find out more about previous or current research projects, please get in touch and we will tell you more.

You have carried out a project with the Swedish municipality of Dals-Ed. How did it go?
The Cat model and Per Ekemark, a special needs teacher in Dals-Ed, carried out a project which involved a number of pupils in the fourth and fifth grade. The pupils had already learnt the letters of the alphabet but they had great difficulties in reading and writing.
Annika Henke, a special needs teacher, has written a paper about the project. She has also talked about her experiences in an interview in ”Studio 1”, a programme on the Swedish Radio talk channel P1. In the programme, she says: “The project group (i.e. the group that was trained in the Cat model) has progressed significantly in comparison with the reference group.”
She also says:” There has been an incredible improvement in those who have participated in the training and practised”.
The test which was used before and after the training was the standard dyslexia screening test published by Hogrefe Psykologiförlaget. The results were positive and are shown below. The project in Dals-Ed is now going to be expanded. If you are interested in finding out more about the results of the study, please contact us or Per Ekemark or Annika Henke.
Swedish    English
kattgrupp    Cat group
medelvärde    average score
Stanine    Stanine
rättstavning    spelling
ordförståelse    word comprehension
läshastighet    reading speed
läsförståelse    reading comprehension

Who can take a Cat model course?
The Cat model is intended for those who are eight years or older. Nobody is too old. Many of our pupils have previously tried traditional phonetic methods, but without result. The only prerequisite is that the pupil knows the letters of the alphabet and that he or she has a parent/tutor who comes along to the course and takes part in the exercises afterwards.

Someone has said that learning the Cat model is like learning to ride a bike. Is that true?
Yes, to a certain extent it is. Once you have learnt to ride a bike you just do it without paying any thoughts to it. It is possible to learn how to read and write in the same way, so that you don’t have to think about it. The Cat model involves learning step by step and then practicing in order to finally make the process work automatically.

Is the Cat model only suitable for dyslexic people?
No, it is also suitable for people with slight reading and writing difficulties.

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