Tag Archives: autism

Dyslexia Is Not An Illness Or An Injury

Dyslexia is not an illness or an injury – it is not something that you can ‘get better’ from, but is a learning difference which means you need to approach some things differently. Nor does dyslexia mean that you are ‘less intelligent’ than someone else – but using the same judgments for those with and those without dyslexia creates an unfair playing field.

 

Perhaps to use physical terms (even though your brain is, in effect, just another organ) you wouldn’t ask someone with poor eyesight to just try to look harder or someone who was wheelchair-bound that they just weren’t trying hard enough.

 

Instead, just like wearing glasses, people with dyslexia may need some assistance with some tasks. Again, like those glasses you may use to help you see, so there is technology available to help those with learning differences like dyslexia to get along in a world that isn’t always designed to suit.

 

The law requires that workplaces make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to help those with dyslexia to do their job and the range of support available to students has never been better, yet there still remains a great level of misunderstanding about things like dyslexia.

 

If these types of difference are not recognised and acted upon then we will continue to see a society where those with dyslexia, autism, ADHD and other similar neurodiversities will be marginalised or simply treated as being ‘stupid.’

 

In fact, tests have shown this to be far from the case, and some employers are going out of their way to court neurodivergent employees in order to make the most of any differences in thought pattern and levels of creativity.

 

So, rather than seeing those with dyslexia as having something ‘wrong’ with them, like a broken leg that can be set and fixed, we need to recognise that dyslexia is merely a difference – just like your hair or eye colour, except that it is a difference with how your brain is wired. Not better, not worse, just different – with its own benefits and drawbacks.

 

Dyslexia is not something that we need to ‘cure,’ it is something that we need to accommodate in a world that all-too-often is just not designed with dyslexics in mind. Only when we do this can we unlock potential and fully appreciate the great benefits that neurodiversity can bring.

The Personal Touch – With Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology or ‘A.T.’ is specialist technology that helps support those with disabilities and learning needs. It can be either software or hardware and can be awarded through either Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) or Access To Work (ATW) schemes.

 

Designed to help students and employees overcome any difficulties they may have, for example with dyslexia, ADHD, or autism, Assistive Technology comes in a number of different forms depending on requirements.

 

However, since everyone is unique, Vocendi believe that any Assistive technology support should be matched to the needs of the individual, rather than seeking a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution, as is favoured by some other providers.

 

In fact, Vocendi offer one-to-one training sessions where an individual’s needs can be assessed so that the best solution can be found for each person. This holistic approach offers users a unique experience tailored for them rather than trying to cut corners to get as many people on board as possible without actually doing much to really help.

 

Vocendi make sure that our trainers have the rights skills and experience to offer this personal touch when it comes to Assistive Technology. With this in mind, we have implemented a competency framework to monitor and assess our team to ensure that service users have the best possible experience.

 

We believe that everyone has the right to reach their full potential and that far from being a burden, those who require Assistive Technology have a great deal to offer just as long as there is the help required to achieve this potential.

 

Of course, the Equality Act means that discriminating against someone in the workplace because of a condition like dyslexia is illegal and reasonable adjustments are expected to be made by an employer to prevent this.

 

The same can be said for those who are studying, with Disabled Students Allowance designed to help people be all they can rather than being side-lined due to disability or a learning difficulty.

 

You can find out more about our services and how they can help you right here on Vocendi.com – don’t settle for less, be all you can with Assistive Technology and support!

Lifting The Lid On Hidden Disabilities

As people, it seems that many of us are guilty of ignoring what we can’t see. This can be seen in how so many are happy to ignore the plight of the poverty-stricken, refugees, homeless, and others in similar situations. So long as it doesn’t impact on our daily lives, it seems that many people are happy to carry on as if these things don’t exist.

 

However, it is not just societal ills that people turn a blind eye to – but also things such as mental health issues and hidden disabilities such as dyslexia. While we wouldn’t berate someone in a wheelchair for not being able to climb a flight of stairs, it is all too easy to ignore the less-obvious disabilities and issues that others may face.

 

A large part of this is because conditions such as dyslexia are not immediately obvious, often went unrecognised, and were frequently misrepresented as someone not trying, or being ‘stupid.’ Of course, things have steadily improved over the years, but our ability to recognise and appreciate the effects of hidden disabilities still leaves a lot to be desired.

 

Fortunately, with anti-discrimination laws in place, it is becoming harder for employers and others in positions of power to discriminate against those with conditions like dyslexia, dyspraxia, and ADHD. In fact, employers are now required to take reasonable steps to accommodate and support those with these types of conditions.

 

It is not just in the workplace that there have been advances in supporting those with such conditions, but there is also a great deal that can be done to help students to thrive and reach their true potential despite of their dyslexia, ADHD, or other hidden disability.

 

Assistive technology has helped immensely, and is something that we at Vocendi take seriously, but it is not just a question of throwing technology at the problem. It is also about attitudes. As employers, teachers and tutors become more aware of hidden disabilities and how to support those with them, so we are all able to better see the potential of those who have them. Far from being judged by a condition, we can now look to the strengths rather than dwell on the difficulties.

 

Out of sight, out of mind may still be a real attitude problem in our society, but hidden disabilities needn’t and shouldn’t be brushed under the carpet or passed off as something else. It is all about education, knowledge and understanding – not for those with the condition as much as for those without.

 

Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist!

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!

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.