Tuesday, 30 December 2014

What Do We Know About Brain Processing Speed?  ©Dyslexia Toby, 2014

Brain processing speed is a deficit common in many of us… it can be comorbid in dyslexics, dyspraxics, dyscalculics, dysgraphics, ADD and those with ADHD.

But if we reverse polarity and base testing/academia on the creative or visual usage of the brain such as art, drama, and technology You get would see very different results.

Most of us with slow text or auditory processing skill sets come out very high in the above order, and those linear left brained will be found lacking.

You find that when a person is out of his or her comfort zone you need to give greater clarity (over learning) to your requirements in the learning process.

As previously mentioned where the academic student is doing  non-core art or when the creative student is doing core studies.

Are you ever given, or have you given, several instructions to someone… Maybe your child or partner?
Have wondered why they have carried out part of the instructions, or maybe none of it?  Maybe you have been given a verbal instruction, like a phone number or directions to a venue and had to ask again?

How are you at remembering names? Not great… why is that!
Most of the children and adults we work with are extremely bright and have high IQ’s, but present with a learning support issue.

Processing speed is not presented as a key issue in many cases… the child with dyspraxia, for instance, might not get resource hours, as this tends to be given to those with dyslexia in the main.

Have you ever been told by your child’s teacher that they are always the last to finish an exercise? Perhaps you have taken a look at their course books and found gaps (take a look, it will tell you a lot!).

Does their writing deteriorate towards the end of their work?  We could be looking at an indication of them rushing to keep up with their peers.

Those with slow processing speed were, in the past, classed as stupid or lazy children.
Quite often being judged, as many are, on core subjects, whereas the opposite was true in the non-core subjects… why?
Children and adults with slow processing speed have gifts that others don’t have, like creating something from nothing.  They need to rehearse things a few times and then they fly.
As parents, have you ever wondered why your child (or pupil, if you’re a teacher) performs really well in school drama production, and yet they underachieve in subjects such as Maths or English?
With someone who has slow processing, rehearsing a play or over-learning is just what they need… how many times do they rehearse… 3-4, -5-6 times?  How many times are they shown a Maths equation or a piece of poetry… Once maybe twice?
There is part of the problem.
Have you noticed your child dragging their heels with homework or putting their books together for school?

Maybe you have asked them to do something whilst they watched television, and you felt like they were ignoring you?  You haven’t got their attention… try standing in front of the telly, and they will listen.
Have you ever sent them shopping and they come back without some of the items?  Visual  stimuli are great in helping them to get this right.  Make flash cards… For shopping, flash cards of items are easy to do… download pictures of lemons, eggs, milk, etc.
For school, lay out their books on the table and place a tag with the day of the week alongside the books they need, take a photo and print it.
Take a picture of them with their uniform on, for dressing.  
We can also introduce this with many other routines like brushing hair, teeth, etc.
I suggest to many parents to introduce colour coded weekly calendar of their timetable and this improves processing and reduces problems with forgetting books, etc.
A good way of getting the right books for the right day...Place their school books down on the table in day order...Mon...Tues and type the day in say 48 font (comic sans) and cut it out, place it on their books and get them to take a photo on their phone or yours.
Try and talk to your child’s teacher, and maybe they will give them the homework on paper or early in the lesson, as the end of a class or day becomes hurried and noisy.

I have seen a variety of approaches that can be eased with the use of technology.
Supporting areas such as these (some indirectly); in my last post there was an internal internet that the students could log onto; most teachers like myself used to log the homework and course work.
Indeed  if a student was off sick they could work at home or catch up later.
We as parents/carers and teachers need to look very carefully at our children and identify this and if we feel there is a problem get it diagnosed!
Governments and those at the top of the Education Departments need to be aware of all those that present with processing disorders, and include this where necessary; when it comes to giving extra time in exams and resourcing during term time.

We support so many students with dyslexia, often with improvement  end up over the bar, (might I say the bar is set too high in the first instance); students may still have slow processing speed.
So often we see this not being taken into account, likewise with many dyspraxics who get little or no resource.

Can you remember being back at school and the teacher writing down copious notes on the board and at a fair pace?  She or he had no problem with flow…why?
Well, for one, not many teachers would have slow processing speed, and they would have also written that many times before.
New teachers tend to go much slower as this is new to them too and they would write slower, thus the pupils with slow processing speed would have a greater chance of keeping up.

I would urge teachers to make a cross reference with a student who is struggling in the written subjects and excels in the kinaesthetic areas such as Home Economics, Woodwork or Drama.

Maybe the Home Economics teacher wonders why the child is great in practical (stimuli and repetition) and poor in the written/theory side of the subject (lack of stimuli and repetition).
Have you ever looked at your child’s Report and wondered why the Art teacher says great things and the English teacher appears concerned, or maybe writes in a negative way?
Homework will improve when it's based on what the child has done during the day.  Use a sand timer (say 15 minute stints) and allow them to have a very small break between subjects.

I think schools should move to giving fewer subjects each evening, but more of the same.  We will not only reduce the weight of the school bag, but also reduce the risk of forgetting a long list of homework and would also improve retention.

Short term memory work can make a big difference and making all of the subjects kinaesthetically based will help.

NB. This information is from personal experience and research and also partly sourced through the work of others. It is purely for improving the understanding of dyslexia and offering helpful advice. Dyslexia Toby © 2014

I hope you found this article useful… there are many more, including one on homework, on our Blog(www.dyslexiadublin.blogspot.ie)

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Fear and the Fearless… (Finding the middle ground) by Dyslexia Toby © 2014

We have to look at accrued and non-accrued experiences to understand why we have fear or lack of fear.
Part of our brain stores fear or lack (riding our luck) this area is known as the episodic memory. O had several experiences as a young child, and some of these are firmly parked there.
During my early years, I was bitten by a small dog at the age of 5-6 years old and that keeps me at more than arm's length until I know I can trust that particular animal.
I can remember going to this friend's house, they had German Shepherds (Alsatians); the father seemed to take delight in watching these dogs pin me into a shell in the corner.
I had another harrowing experience; being thrown in a swimming pool as a child and being rescued by a young girl, to this day I am not comfortable with water (not helped by me being dyspraxic). I have to be in touch of the side or shallow water that enables me to stand.
We can also have a fear of separation and loneliness, equally we can have a fear of being around people.
Certain levels of fear have to exist to keep us safe; however this cannot be so inhibiting that it precludes us having a life, we need to find that balance.
This balance becomes so much harder with those like me who have a learning need, we usually fall into one side or the other…fear or fearless.
 We start learning the minute we are born, when a child starts to fall its arms go out due to reflex action, quite often in children especially those with a learning need like dyspraxia would not have this reflex. It has to be taught. Early years is a good time to introduce friends and this can help overcome fear…but can also create fear, keep an eye on those they are playing with and make sure they complement what you would like for yourself and your child.
Children are vulnerable…they often don't see the signs warning them of imminent danger.
Introduce protective wear early so one there is no stigma, and you don't have to raise the fear levels by explaining why you want them to wear shin pads, cycle helmets or skull caps (rugby).
We need to socialise early too, get our children use to people and noise…much of the fear of going swimming is the noise created by the acoustics of the swimming pool, take them on quite days until they enjoy the water and then introduce noise.
Try not to ignore your child's actions, they could well be seeking the attention if the reaction is negative.
You need to get good at vocal-tone, we are no different to any other species that relies heavily on sound to interpret approval or disapproval.
To understand your child you need on occasions to go back to being a child, walk there walk and talk there talk, you will be surprised how different their world looks from down there.
Inquisitive does not always equal bold (behaviour) it is more often than not curiosity and exploration of their rapidly unfolding world.

Let's look at the memory areas that have an effect on fear, there are regions that work in tandem with others, like Symantec (memory) we know we were born in a certain place but from that age its taught and not learnt through experience.
It's our episodic that becomes our inbuilt sat-nav so we can, for example, find our way around places our episodic memory builds day on day and stores events both good and bad.
We need to be very mindful of this in creating fear where needed. Our reaction or lack of (inaction) can help leave a bad experience with a good feeling or a good experience with a bad feeling.
Let me give you an example! A friend of mine was busy chatting, and his daughter wanted to show us a new tune she had learnt, his reaction was to tell her to shut that horrible noise up.
This event could then transfer to fear; thus preventing her from performing anything in the future, unless the situation is quickly reversed and confidence built.
We need to take a long look at this in all our children’s lives as it is key to applying the fear or removing fear in all circumstances.
Apart from as mentioned certain innate reactions at birth fear or lack of fear is controlled by us as parents and teachers. Children arrive into this world for the most part Tabula Rasa (a blank canvas).
We must also point out that if your child is like me and so many others their processing speed could be or is so much slower, this takes far more repetition to create or remove fear!
You need to counter the negative effects of learnt behaviours. We can be achieved by slowly taking the child or person on a journey!
We might need to do this several times to allow the good or bad experience for this to reverse.
Let us take our possible fear of water or perhaps flying, you have to saturate yourself in good experiences. Let's say you are worried about going on a ferry; you would be mad to make the journey in the stormy season and the same with flying.
If your child experiences safety and danger, they will quickly learn to apply this in the correct context…but remember as in my other articles over learning is a must to overcome the slow processing speed.
We adjust our body to variations of temperature etc., so why do we not consider adjusting our minds to danger or the lack of danger.
Finally, it is possible to clear your mind of anything, it’s a time and opportunity thing.

We should consider this as an area of huge proportion, and I would recommend those with concerns seeking the correct professional advice.

Our articles are for guidance purpose only and are put together by our extensive team. We always suggest engaging the work of a professional in all circumstances.

Dyslexia Toby © 2014