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Are You Dyslexic?

Next week, 3 to 9 October, is Dyslexia Awareness Week – a time when the charities of the British Dyslexic Association, Dyslexia Scotland, Xtraordinary People, Dyslexia Action and more come together to promote issues relating to dyslexia.

 

This year’s Dyslexia Awareness Week is themed around the ‘Identification of Dyslexia,’ which had us thinking – how do you know if you are dyslexic?

 

Dyslexia is not only what is known as a ‘hidden disability’ but is also believed to be the most common learning difficulty and, while things have improved over the years, there is still a lot of misunderstanding about the condition.

 

As with any condition, dyslexia comes in a variety of forms and affects people to differing degrees, meaning that you could be mildly dyslexic and not have really even questioned it before. And what about the people around you – such as your friends and family – could it be that any of them are unknowingly struggling with dyslexia?

 

It used to be the case that children who struggled with reading, spelling or numbers at school would just be considered to not be very clever, rather than recognising that there was an underlying condition that was making these things difficult for them.

 

Of course, if the condition is not picked up and a child is marginalised in class there is every chance that they may decide school is not for them and start to play up rather than working. This means that many of these children were able to fulfil their potential and would have gone on to lead lives just believing they weren’t very good at reading (for example) without considering that they could have a learning disability – and equally importantly, doing something about it by getting the proper support.

 

Of course, things are much better than they were a few years ago, but there is still a stigma attached to dyslexia that would not be associated with other, more obvious, disabilities.

 

Recognising and understanding dyslexia is important and so it is good that there are a number of online tests that you can do to see if you may be dyslexic. A quick online search will locate several tests that you can do to assess if you may be dyslexic, which will then allow you to seek out the support you may need either at work or in your studies.

 

There are laws in place to prevent discrimination against those with dyslexia in the workplace, for example, but they are of little use if you don’t know you have the learning disability in the first place!

 

We are certainly looking forward to Dyslexia Awareness Week and seeing what advice and information is made available to us all!

New Year, New Studies, New Goals

It’s a new academic year which, for many students means heading back to school, college, or even off to university. Whether you are returning somewhere for another year or starting something afresh, you will want to be prepared to get off to the best possible start.

 

Getting Equipped:

 

The first step in this is making sure you are ready with all the things you might need to see you through the week. Pens, paper, and a sturdy bag to carry your stuff around in is a good starting point, while buying a few new things can also help you to feel like you are making a new start for the academic year – even if you are returning to a course you began last year.

 

If you are returning to a course, it is also worth tidying up your notes from last year. Throwing away any unimportant or unnecessary papers, making sure your work is filed properly, and even going over some old notes to make sure they still make sense may seem like a bit of a waste of time, but it will help refresh your memory ready for the new year, while also giving you a head-start for when it is time to revise later in the year!

 

Of course, it is not just about what you might need for your studies either, you will want to make sure you have a few other items too – tissues (winter is coming!), lip balm, your iPod, money for the bus or lunch, and those other little things that you need each day.

 

Timetables?

 

You will also want to make sure you know where you are going, which means getting your timetable organised. Knowing where you have to be and when takes a lot of the stress out of the day, but your timetable shouldn’t just be a list of where and when your classes are. It is also a good idea to keep track of your deadlines for essays and other work. Keeping a study diary is a good way to do this and make sure you don’t accidentally leave something until the last minute – or forget it entirely!

 

A study timetable can also help out your social life as it will mean you are more organised with your work and therefore able to sort out meeting up with friends and other activities too.

 

Extra Support?

 

You may also want to look for some extra support with your studies by speaking to your college and finding out about what they can offer you if you have a condition such as dyslexia. There is no need for this to hold you back from being all you can be and achieving your goals. You may be eligible for DSA or assistive technology which will help support your studies.

 

At Vocendi we can help with these type of things – from study support to assistive technology training – which means that you can step confidently into the new academic year.

Uncovering The Learning Myths Of Neuroscience

There are a lot of common beliefs around how our brains work – especially when it comes to learning. Some common myths are being peddled like facts, and it seems that if you couple one of these pseudo-scientific ‘facts’ with a picture of the brain people are more likely to believe them!

 

Unfortunately, some of these learning myths are believed by teachers and parents and therefore make their way into the beliefs of students too. Of course, understanding how our memories work and how we learn is useful when it comes to teaching and more effective study, but it seems that a few of the more commonly held beliefs are actually wrong, and have no real basis in fact.

 

Here are a few common neuroscience myths – and why they simply aren’t true:

 

  • You have A Favoured ‘Learning Style.’

 

This incredibly common neuroscience myth says that each of us has a preferred way of learning – whether visual, auditory or kinaesthetic – that is using your eyes, listening or a hands-on approach. The theory says that you will learn better if you use your ‘favoured’ learning style.
Despite there being no evidence to support this, it is apparently believed by 93% of teachers. While some students will have a preference for a particular style of learning this doesn’t actually translate over to getting better grades.  In fact, findings indicate that it is best to use a variety of different senses and learning styles to cement new information in the brain – creating neural pathways related to sight, sound and touch is more effective than just using one of these.

 

  • You Only Use 10% Of Your Brain

 

There is a myth going around that Albert Einstein declared that we only use 10% of our brain, leading some to believe that there is a great untapped potential within all of us. However, the theory is untrue – and Einstein never said anything of the sort!

 

Unfortunately, a lot of people still believe this myth, despite there being no evidence to support it. In fact, with advances in our understanding of how the brain works we know that this 10% myth is incorrect.

 

  • Right Or Left Sided Brain

 

An amazing 91% of teachers believe that the difference between the right or left sides of the brain create differences in individual learners who are described as using one side or the other. There is a belief that those who are left-brained are rational and objective while those who are right-brained are more creative. This was based on a study of epilepsy in the 1960s, but since then research has found that neither side of the brain is solely responsible for personality types. Students may decide that they don’t have the right sort of brain for a particular subject, which is, of course, nonsense!

 

  • Brain Training Games Make You Smarter

 

You have probably seen adverts for brain training games and how they claim to be able to help improve your memory, concentration or intelligence. Of course, playing these games frequently means that you will get better at them over time, but there is no evidence to suggest that this transfers over to making you better at other activities, such as learning in class.

 

There are some benefits to be had from these type of games, for example for those suffering from Alzheimer’s and of course, keeping you brain active can certainly help in these type of circumstances. However, a leading researcher into these type of games concluded that there is  “no evidence for any generalised improvements in cognitive function following brain training in a large sample of healthy adults.”

 

These neurological myths are surprisingly widespread but perhaps it is time to look at them with a more critical eye. For example, it is clear to see that makers of brain-training games will be keen to get you to buy them, so may make a few leaps of judgment in promoting them to the public. Here’s hoping that these out-dated myths fade away to be replaced by more solid, research-based facts!

Seeking The Strengths Of Neurodiversity

When people think of conditions such as dyslexia they tend to focus on the difficulties associated with them. However, neurodiverse minds have a great many strengths too – if you can only recognise them.

 

While some patterns of thought and neurodiversities can make certain tasks more difficult, they can equally be of benefit in other areas. For example, while it is something of a stereotype, high tech companies have been known to actively seek out and engage employees with autistic traits, having found that these employees can have a great deal to offer if given the right support and impetus.

 

Of course, to judge everyone with autism or dyslexia as being similar is wrong, but if global leaders like Microsoft can recognise the benefits of a diverse workplace then why can’t smaller firms follow suit?

 

This may mean implementing a few extra levels of support – such as text to speech software or even altering the working environment to better suit different employees, but these small changes and additions to can make all the difference and unlock the real benefits of a more neurodiverse workforce.

 

With different mindsets come different opinions and approaches to problem-solving which can reap rewards for the forward-thinking business. Indeed, it is not just about the strengths associated with a neurodiverse workforce but can be about the weaknesses too!

 

When we tackle something challenging we may be forced to find alternative solutions. This ‘thinking outside the box’ approach to a problem or situation can open up previously unseen avenues for development or growth – something that may have been missed if everyone was of a similar mindset.

 

As with any employee, the trick is to work towards the strengths of staff rather than trying to fit square pegs into round holes. This is not to say that people can’t develop (as we all can), but rather it is worth recognising and using existing strengths where possible.  While someone with Asperger’s, for example, may not be the best communicator, they can bring a dedication and a focus that is hard to ignore.

 

Just as out bodies are different so are our minds, which offers us all various strengths and weaknesses to work with or improve upon. Rather than seeing neurodiversity as an abnormality, we should recognise this as just another difference in how we are wired. Different doesn’t mean bad – it simply means different – and the sooner we can all recognise that, the better!

Advice On Cloud Storage For Students

Let’s face it, after weeks or months of work, the last thing you want is for something to go wrong with your computer and you lose that large essay or dissertation that you were working on. Backing up your files should be something that is automatic to students these days, but could cloud storage offer an effective solution to storing your work, as well as some flexibility with your studies?

 

Cloud storage is a system whereby your data is remotely managed, maintained and backed-up – allowing you to access your files online from anywhere via the Internet. This is ideal if you want to check something out from your files while you are on a café Wi-Fi system or over a friend’s house. It could also mean that you can do some study wherever there is an Internet connection – even on holiday!

 

Of course, the main plus point of using the cloud is that your files are instantly accessible from anywhere, and it is easy to just move files between your local and your cloud storage, offering an instant back-up to anything you have stored on your computer.

 

You can of course access your files from different devices, so long as they have the service downloaded to them to allow you access. Systems like Dropbox are widely used and could provide a quick and simple solution to accessing your files remotely.

 

However, be careful when moving items from your local and cloud storage – you will need to copy and paste rather than drag and drop the files – since moving them will delete them from your original location.

 

While there are some real advantages to using cloud storage as a student there are also a few potential problems that you will need to be aware of too.

 

You may have some concerns about data safety and how easy it might be for other people to access your files. While hackers may be a concern for some cloud storage users – particularly businesses – chances are there won’t be too many hackers interested in locating your files on Popular Culture In The 17th Century, or whatever else it is you are studying!

 

The main downside to what is otherwise a great storage solution for students is also its greatest strength – the Internet.

 

Being able to access your files from wherever you are using the Internet is a great thing – unless the Internet goes down. Not being able to get a connection or facing a fault with your Internet service on the day when that assignment needs to be in could prove to be a real headache!

 

That said, as an extra tool to help in your studies, cloud storage could offer you some extra flexibility to keep your life in synch with your studies!

 

Understanding ADHD

There is a degree of uncertainty about ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) – including exactly what it is, how you may come to have ADHD, and how best to deal with it.  Symptoms of ADHD include having difficulty in staying focused, problems with controlling your behaviour, and hyperactivity.

 

You have probably heard of ADHD, but did you know that it is actually made up of three main sub-types?

 

These are, predominantly inattentive type, predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type, and combined inattention and hyperactive impulsive type.

 

Predominately inattentive means that those with the condition are less likely to misbehave or have problems getting along with others, but it can mean difficulty in paying attention. This type is easilt overlooked or confused for simply not paying attention.

 

However, most people show the combined version of ADHD, but this can be managed in school, work, and in life in general with the right support. However, ADHD is no measure of your intelligence and does not mean that you are likely to have a learning difficulty, however the difficulty in focusing can have a knock-on effect in things like education.

 

ADHD is not something that you grow out of as you get older, although the symptoms can lessen over time.

 

In fact, scientists have uncovered evidence that ADHD may be a genetic condition, although the impact can be lessened through support and environmental factors, such as a good quality home life and positive personal development.

 

ADHD has nothing to do with diet or parenting, but is instead down to how your brain may develop, making it a neurodiverse condition.

 

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 Chapter 50 Section 1 Sub-section 1 states, “Subject to the provisions of Schedule 1, a person has a disability for the purposes of this Act if he has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.” This means that, in some cases, ADHD can be determined to be a ‘disability’ under the law.

 

Methods for dealing with ADHD include exercise as well as having structure and organisation to help lessen anxiety. Recognising and managing the condition is the first step in dealing with ADHD, but there lies the problem – especially for children who may be seen as just being ‘naughty.’

 

You can find out more about ADHD and how to get support right here on Vocendi.com.

Is Neurodiversity A Trigger For Mental Health Problems?

Could neurodiversity be a trigger for mental health problems, and are neurodivergent people more likely to suffer from mental health problems, and if so, why?

 

It is true that those people who are identified as being autistic are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression than those who are not seen as being so far along the autistic scale. Of course, it must be recognised that neurodiversity is not in itself a mental illness, but simply the way in which different people’s brains work differently. However, there seems to be a link between neurodiversity and mental health, which is most-likely caused by societal factors and circumstance.

 

For the more neurodivergent among us, it can be stressful to try and ‘fit in’ to a world that seems to be at odds with your way of filtering it. Being sensitive to stimuli like loud working environments, difficulty in reading other people, and so forth can cause anxiety. Meanwhile, having difficulty fitting in or finding a suitable job can lead to depression among those with autism and other conditions.

 

However, this can be helped by taking some simple steps to recognise the needs of neurodiverse groups and acting to make changes to suit them in their day-to-day lives, whether that is studying or at work.

 

It is time that we accepted our differences and realised that they are not faults, but rather something that can add to the diversity of human life. It is our differences that should become our greatest strengths as we work together, using our various skills to support one-another.

 

Rather than alienating the neurodivergent sections of society in an ill-conceived bid to make everyone ‘normal’ we should be ready to understand that neurodiversity is not an illness to be cured, but rather a different way of thinking that we can appreciate and accept.

 

With more acceptance, understanding, and support we would surely see a drop in cases of anxiety and depression among the neurodiverse – which is surely a win-win situation for everyone involved.