Tag Archives: brain

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 Dyslexia-Friendly Workplace

It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a current or prospective employee based on their dyslexia, while the 2010 Equality Act means that all publicly-funded companies must implement a three-year rolling programme to address and eliminate discrimination based on disabilities.

 

This means that employers should make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to help dyslexic employees to work effectively, but what sort of adjustments are these?

 

There should be a written disability policy within the workplace and any company-wide information should be produced in alternative formats such as audio or in a larger font.  Employees should also be able to choose different coloured backgrounds, overlays and fonts to aid their comprehension. Employers may also consider bringing in assistive technology and software – which is something Vocendi can help with!

 

Aside from using technology, employers should also seek to bring in specialist one-to-one training or tuition for dyslexic employees in order to assist in matters such as time management., memory improvement, concentration and organisation.

 

However, before any of these can be implemented, employers need to assess the needs of their employers. This means finding out more about dyslexia and creating a culture of acceptance within the workplace. Employers should identify workplace problems and encourage a support among employees as well as making sure that communications are disseminated in a way that doesn’t exacerbate or ignore any problems encountered by dyslexic workers. Of course, a company should also look to create a dyslexia-friendly interface for customers too – or else risk losing business!

 

These adjustments needn’t be huge or overly demanding to make, but they can have a real benefit to a business. Not only does a dyslexia -friendly environment create a better level of service for customers and clients but can help bring out the strengths of the workforce.  These measures will also help reduce absenteeism, stress and staff turnover, creating a more dedicated and unified workforce.

 

Showing you care as an employer and making the right adjustments will not only improve how effective employees are, but can also improve company morale, motivation, and loyalty – not to mention keeping in line with the Equality Act!

Dealing With Dyspraxia

Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), commonly known as dyspraxia, is often seen as a childhood condition, but new evidence seems to show that it can also effect adolescents and adults too.

 

This learning condition affects motor coordination as well as being associated with problems with memory, planning, organisation and perception. Despite impacting between 5 and 10% of school-age children, awareness of dyspraxia is still poor, and things seem to only get worse as people get older.  This may be because by adolescence and adulthood many of those with DCD have developed coping conditions to deal with the condition. However, these coping mechanisms can easily lead to those with dyspraxia avoiding certain activities, creating a barrier to achievement and potential.

 

Where children will learn how to develop and strengthen the skills that DCD impacts, adults will tend to need a different approach to develop strategies and support to deal with the condition. Using assistive technologies can help those with dyspraxia to keep up in class (where written work may prove tricky), stay organised, and stay involved in activities alongside their peers.

 

Moving from the classroom to the workplace, and again we can see the importance of recognising and supporting those with DCD.  Where many of the motor-skills difficulties will be coped with, there will still be issues around the non-physical aspects of dyspraxia – such as organisational and planning problems.

 

However, with reasonable adjustments in the workplace, these issues needn’t be a problem. While the condition can spike when under duress, when learning new things, or when in distracting environments, this can be managed with a little forethought and with the use of the correct support – including technology. Some even find that an enjoyable physical activity such as cycling can help, while some individuals benefit from counselling and mental wellbeing support.

 

Despite being more-commonly associated with children, dyspraxia is a life-long condition, but it needn’t be life-limiting. With the right support and some understanding an individual can deal wioth dyspraxia and shine.

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!

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.

What Is Mind-Mapping – & What Can It Do For You?

You may have heard of ‘mind-mapping’ but not really know what it is. A Mind Map is a way of noting down thoughts, ideas, and concepts in a way that it much more visual than traditional written notes. Using graphics to represent ideas, rather than words, mind-mapping engages your brain in more ways than a regular linear text – making it ideal for anything from note-taking, planning, brainstorming, and study, to research, creativity, and problem-solving.

 

What Is A Mind Map?

 

The best way to explain what a mind map looks like is to look up a picture online (try an image search for ‘mind map’ – it should bring up plenty of examples). But, generally speaking, a mind map will start with your basic idea or problem in the middle of the page, with different ideas, concepts, or information branching off in various directions.

 

You can use colour on each sub-section, pictures, and other graphics to help make the mind map more visual, and don’t be afraid to change text size and style as you see fit. You don’t need to be a great artist, it is all about getting the information down in a visual way, so the more visual clues you can include, the better.

 

The best mind maps are concise, so keep your topics short – a single word or just a picture may do the job and keep your mind map effective.

 

Your mind map doesn’t have to be done on paper either, as there are a number of mind mapping software programs like MindView and Inspiration.

 

The Benefits:

 

The main benefit of mind mapping is that the way the information is presented is structured in way that resembles how your brain actually works. A mind map engages your brain in a number of different ways (cognitive, creative), which means that information is much easier to take in while also sparking your creativity.

 

While there has been a focus on mind mapping and neurodiversity, mind maps are a great tool for everybody – whether at work, in college, or even for working out plans in your personal life!

 

In fact, pretty much anything that you want to summarise, consider, brainstorm, or note down can be turned into a mind map – so why not ditch the text and start using mind mapping instead?