Tag Archives: creativity

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.

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!

Employers Recognising The Benefits Of Autistic Staff

An increasing number of employers are recognising the real benefits of employing staff who are on the autistic spectrum. Of course, it could be argued that we are all somewhere on the autistic spectrum, but those with autistic traits have been found to outperform those employees without in some areas – leading to employers seeking them out.

 

However, in order to reap the benefits of this relatively untapped workforce, employers may need to make a few changes. The manner of communication in the workplace may need to change, with a need for managers to be more precise and less ambiguous when communicating with autistic staff. That being said, this clearer, more concise communication style has been found to be favoured by many non-autistic staff too!

 

It may take extra effort to find the right staff, plus there may be a need to alter working methods to better suit autistic employees, but it has been shown to pay off. One tech company in the U.S., ULTRA testing primarily employs autistic people, looking for staff who have relevant skills such as analytical reasoning and pattern recognition rather than being hung up on previous experience. ULTRA co-founder, Rajesh Anadan said that his employees often outperformed those from other companies. For example, their staff found 56% more bugs during software tests for IBM than IBM’s own staff had!

 

Other tech companies have followed suit by actively seeking to employ those who are on the autistic spectrum, including Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard. Of course, not everybody with autism wants to work in science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) based careers, but character traits associated with autism have been shown to benefit employers in a wide range of different careers, including banking, healthcare, and consulting.

 

Companies are finding that with the right hiring processes they can tap into the reputed talents of those with autism, including focus, loyalty and a great attention to detail. However, to do this, an employer needs to work to support autistic employees – including making sure not to have interview processes that will alienate those with autism.

 

Given the right support, autistic employees have been shown to be a loyal and talented asset for businesses to tap into – creating strong workforces and offering great employment opportunities to autistic people.

 

Vocendi can offer training and support for autistic people in the workplace – just have a look around the website to find out more.

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?

 

Understanding Dyslexia

While a lot of people have heard of dyslexia, it seems that not so many actually know what it is or how it affects those who have the condition. Some people believe that those with dyslexia see things like words differently – that they are unable to read letters as they appear backwards or altered in some other way.

Continue reading Understanding Dyslexia