Thursday, 8 October 2015

Is It OCD (Dyspraxia, Dyslexia) by Toby Lee Dyslexia  © 2015

Many Dyslexics have a compulsion with time, efficiency and structure, are they all suffering OCD.
Probably not, short term memory deficiency often found in dyslexia and dyspraxia cause huge problems with short term memory.
Our processing needs to be repetitively poked with instruction if we are to get things right, such as shopping or information given off the cuff.
How do we give off the same traits as someone with OCD!
What is OCD!
Obsessive compulsive disorder is a neurological disorder and is often plagued by self-doubt and intrusive thought process.
This can lead to anxiety and in worse case depression.
The repetition can be brought about by self-doubt and lack of awareness.
The list of noticeable compulsions is lengthy:
Excessive hand washing and general hygiene (fear of contamination)
Obsessive hoarding
Constantly preoccupied
The need for symmetry (even numbers)
Nervous behaviour
Obsessively enquiring about going to and coming from places
Many with dyspraxia and dyslexia can be incorrectly labelled OCD
We each give off certain OCD traits due to the need to correct a short term memory deficiency (coping strategy).
If we don’t have structure and routine we forget so many things such as:
School Books, clothing, car keys, phones, people's names, etc
We tend by nature to be easily distracted, and this can affect us in regards to skipping our routine.
We need to make lists for various things.
Children often correct work that is okay, they always wear out their rubber long before a pen!
Dyslexics and dyspraxics are not time aware and will constantly ask the time (sand timers can help).
If someone gives an idea and its logical, it sticks.
We also very much are monkey see monkey do, we can pick up repetitive habits this way too.
People with processing issues such as those with dyslexia and dyspraxia can be brought out of any of the above, time and practice is required.
It’s also important for parents to avoid the chance of many of the above happening and this once aware be picked up before they become habit forming.

why not pop over to our new page and read more on the 3 Dy's @
All our posts are for guidance only and professional advice should always be sought. 
Toby Lee,  © 2015

Friday, 2 October 2015

How Does Dyspraxia And Dyslexia Affect Us In Relationships? by Dyslexia Toby © 2015

A strong, healthy relationship can be one of the best and most important supports you will ever experience in your life.  A good, strong relationship improves all aspects of your life, it helps strengthen and maintain a healthy existence, it settles and improves your mind and it can also help you maintain and develop connections with others.  However, if the relationship isn't working, it can also be a tremendous drain and strain.  Relationships are for the long haul and you should reap what you sow.
As has been mentioned in previous articles, we are made up of left, right and those with left and right brains… this is important to understand as communication between like-minded people is, for the most part simple, straightforward and often without problem.  However, communications between a left brain dominant and a right brained dominant can have its fair share of moments… equal left/ right brained should find communicating with others less problematic.
Dyspraxia and dyslexia can affect us in many of our relationship’s, families… friends, school peers and also loving relationships.  One of the key elements that can cause mood swings and distancing is so often the fear of being let down or letting others down, through poor judgement or negative criticism (often rings bells from the past), doing or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time (this is mainly down to lack of confidence).  We can also miss the point due to our slow processing speed, which leads to incorrectly picking up the wrong signals and we can also appear shy.  I had a huge problem with dancing due to co-ordination… this was a real inhibitor, as those that could dance always got the girls.  We also tend to be very trusting; we don’t always see the worst in others until it’s too far down the road and, coupled to this, we tend to fall in love very quickly.
I think this is down to the draw of being loved, attention and the initial lack of criticism; the wheels can very quickly fall of when the relationship settles down and our partners tire of our ways and then start to pull us up with regularity due the many things we struggle to do correctly.  This is hard and often brings us back to all the criticism we have had to face from so many throughout our lives.
It’s so important to get through conflict.  Some couples talk things out quietly, while others may raise their voices and passionately disagree.  The key in a strong relationship, though, is not to be fearful of conflict.  You need to be safe to express things that bother you without fear of retaliation, and be able to resolve conflict without humiliation, degradation or insisting on being right and this can be difficult with those of us who have dyspraxia.  We by nature have excellent memories, we don’t tend to let things bother us in the early stages and we store things, often quoting letter and verse at the person we are upset or arguing with.
Honest, direct communication is the mainstay of any relationship.  When both people feel comfortable expressing their needs, fears and desires, trust and close bonds are maintained and indeed strengthened.  Non-verbal cues, ie. body language like eye contact, leaning forward or away, or touching someone’s arm, are critical to communication and again this is an area that doesn't come as natural to a dyspraxic as it does to those who don’t suffer from the syndrome.
Touch has long been accepted as a fundamental part of human existence; however this can be a problem for those of us that have tactile processing issues.  Studies on infants have shown the importance of regular, loving touch and holding has a long lasting benefit to early brain development. These benefits do not end in childhood. Life without physical contact with others is a lonely life indeed.

This article seems to have an adult flavour to it, however I would like to point out that some of these points would be relevant to our children too.
Our articles offer guidance and we always recommend that those reading them should always seek professional advice on any thing that might concern them.

why not pop over to our new page and read more on the 3 Dy's @
All our posts are for guidance only and professional advice should always be sought.
Toby Lee,  © 2015

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Dyslexia. "Hidden secrets to improved spelling"!by Dyslexia Toby © 2016

Are dyslexics so different, not at all? If anything those with dyslexia tend to be far more advanced in lateral and creative thinking.
Reading, writing and the text in mathematics are our bogies.
It’s a kinda blend thing, "those silent letters and vowels that say one thing and mean another".
It's no wonder when we look at how complexed language is. English is a mix, the  coming together of two languages,an then tweaked to build waht we know as the English language.
Maybe we should look at the German, French, and English language.
So many words are derivative from those languages mentioned earlier!
Take voyage, the same in both French and English, there are so many more; Café, coffee, passage, etc.
German derivatives such as haus = house Hammer = hammer,minute = minute, motor = motor, auto = auto (automobile).
It is so important to be able to use graphemes and phonemes when constructing new words.
We also need to encourage learning through visual imagery, along with any word patterns.
We can see through the research that there are many facets in early word recognition and learning. We also see idiosyncrasies from the gentle introduction of the phonetic alphabet. Three and four-year-olds are introduced to addition, deletion and substitution of phonemes, this helps them to build new whole words with a similar structure and elements of shared sound. We fail to pick this up in the main until first class (age 6-7).
This later phase is the point where most with literacy deficit/dyslexia would fall away. This is the point when the intervention (support) needs to be deployed; this will help students keep up with their literate peers.

I so often hear of support programs concentrating on reading and comprehension, and not working on spellings, We need to run spelling alongside sighting of new words. It is well known that those with literacy deficit have a very quick mind and they can figure where a story is going. They replace the words they can't pronounce with another word. This is often missed by those listening to the story.
I believe that spelling is an integral part of word formation. There are so many silent vowels and consonants (thumb, Gnome, etc.) that leaving out letters due to local or national dialect makes it so much harder for the native or non-native speakers to learn.
If you speak to parents and teachers of other languages, you will find more problems where English is a second language. This can be said certainly with those who use Latin-based languages as their first language. The complexity of English is not mirrored to the same extent as other languages, most have fewer blended letters. Most languages share the same problem with vowels influencing other vowels.
Many schools teach through sighting words. We need to look at spelling with an holistic approach.

We encourage all of our students to sound out the words, this allows us to pick up incorrect letter sounds. They can also increase retention if they sound out words, we hear all of what we say!
We should also forget teaching rules that only partially apply like two letters go out walking, and one does the talking( works with clean, not with friend, etc.) or, i.e., before e except after c (receipt-c, leisure-no c). Children and adults with dyslexia only get confused with this as they apply it in the main! We can do far more research, and we will all find that the rules work for around 50-60%. Most dyslexics and indeed those with dyspraxia (slow processing speed) take things literally. If the rule can be applied 100% then by all means, use it.

Homophones tend to be very confusing for dyslexics; these should be gently introduced as confidence grows.
Teaching children to read correctly is so important; try shared reading, sit alongside. These techniques will allow you to pick up early problems. Reading aloud helps with the correct use of grammar and punctuation. When you work with your children get them to pause for short and long breaths, this stops them rushing sentences and again helps retention.
Encourage them to record their voices, this again will improve retention and test scores.

why not pop over to our new page and read more on the 3 Dy's @
All our posts are for guidance only and professional advice should always be sought. 
Toby Lee,  © 2016

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Dyslexia. One Way Dyslexia Toby © 2015

Children with dyslexia (dysgraphia,dyscalculia, dyspraxia)so often struggle with academia, full stop.
They however are very inquisitive; they also have very good long term memories. On the flip side, their short-term memories are very weak!
So what do we do! We focus on their long-term memory as a principle learning tool.
Many children incorrectly overcome the reading in some cases.
Why incorrectly? They skip or replace words depending on how the storyline is going.
Is this a problem! Yes. If we allow children to replace or skip words while reading, they will tend to skip words when they are reading important documents like exam papers or written instructions. Reading maps requires a degree of orientation, this is an area dyslexics are okay with, they have almost an instinctive knack of knowing where North is.
We need to look at the cause and produce an effect.
Many parents accidently overlook the need for work with reading as their children pick up books and read. It’s only when you stand behind or sit beside your child will you see how many words they skip.
Shared reading can also highlight problems!
Most of us have seen the talent in our children and dare I say it in ourselves; we are very practical people.
If people use a myriad of ways, we can learn most things and to a very high standard.
I wonder why few have picked this up during their time tutoring us.
The Germans have a very good second level model, they recognise the students strengths be it academia or creative.
The children are guided into specific centres that specialise in these areas of the curriculum; they are still given tuition in the secondary area.
They as far as I am aware have not linked this to a pattern of brain/learning types.
As mentioned earlier we need to accommodate the child in the style that best suits them.
We specialise in breaking problems down into manageable chunks and then repeat that same problem from several angles.
This style of learning promotes both learning and retention. We can all remember watching a program or reading a book, only to forget the whole thing. On the other hand we can remember the opposite, yes we glean every minute detail, why! We were not stimulated in the first instance and stimulated in the later.
You have probably seen your child stuck on homework and yet able to construct the most amazing things at home; why…stimulation!
Try and bring to his teacher/tutors attention the areas they have excelled in; pennies might drop.

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Toby Lee, © 2015

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Mainstream Schooling Versus Home Schooling by Dyslexia Toby © 2015

I would like to say that those with a learning need are  more likely to be home schooled with some exception.
In America, home schooling is more evident in numbers than it is in many other countries around the world.
There are well over 4 million being home schooled in the States….with high growth rates!
What are the pluses of having a mainstream education?
The main advantages are!
Qualified teachers with a good depth of subject knowledge at primary level and very often one well-qualified teacher in their subject area in senior.
I will happily stand corrected, but I believe there is very few home schooled at third level education.
The latter maybe explains why pupils and parents choose to home school in the first place, less of a disconnect in the students chosen the subject area, i.e. art, drama, etc.
There is evidence to show that those going to school are going to gain greater life skills than those who don’t.
They are more likely to become natural gatherers and team players due to their immersion with larger groups of students.
We could point to a compromise and maybe parents could consider grouping together like-minded home schoolers, this could overcome this problem.
They get to integrate with children over a range of ages.
If streamed correctly they would be at a level where they should attain a reasonable grade.
Exceptions to this would be the smaller schools that only have one or two classes per academic year.
In Ireland, there is now a move to continual assessment, and this should to be taken into account with those learning outside of the school environment and any other country doing the same.
Parents wouldn’t be allowed to mark/grade their children/students.
Children who attend mainstream schools get access to the latest changes in curricula.
Children in mainstream schools have to conform to a set start and finish time.
Mainstream students have set disciplines to follow, and missed lessons will be documented.
Exams are less daunting/intimidating as they are amongst their fellow peers during exams.
In many countries, there are regular inspections and grading of schools to make sure standards are high.

They can also engage in after school (extra-curricular) study.
There is no child parental conflict entering the learning environment.
However, we do know that conflict/politics is evident in mainstream schools.
Parents are relatively free to pursue their career and, therefore, fund greater opportunities.

Home schooling

Home schoolers get close one to one tuition.
Parents can plan a varied and exciting curricular.
Subject to finances they can provide greater resources.
Parents don’t move on until their child has fully grasped the subject matter.
They can instantly tell when they child has reached saturation and allow downtime.
Parents can balance the workload to allow for those with poor processing skill/speed (dyspraxics, dyslexics, dyscalculics and dysgraphics).

They are less likely to become bullied in their early years.
They are less likely to get involved various types of social disorder. However, they could find this forbidden fruit.
There is a lack of integration that has a knock on effect in regard to social skills in later life.
The above can also have an effect on employ-ability!

There was a study some years back, conducted by Eric Rudner in 1999 of over 20,000 students (not a cross section)

Parents had the choice to sign up or not as the case may be.
The test was slightly different in setting.
The schooled children took the test under the supervision of the school, and all home schoolers were supervised by their parents during testing.
The results showed quite a big gap between schooled and home schooled, in favour of the home schooled.
Scores were recorded with an average of the 75th percentile. Above average scholars.
Many have mentioned that the choice is a big factor in the scores and what is meant by that?
It is thought that only parents that thought their child would score well were put forward for testing.
If the test were random without parental choice, the figures would be more likely to stand the test of scrutiny.
However, a more accurate test albeit with a smaller number of students was conducted by Martin-Chang and her team. This was a smaller pick of students compared to Rudner.
The findings of the test showed that good home schooling with well-structured and planned lesson put the home schoolers between half and one academic year ahead

I would like to end by saying that some research can be vague and that the disconnect and lack of social skills must be taken into account for your child to benefit from their third level education.
However, lack of bullying and the greater sense of self-esteem is a plus in those that are home schooled.

Employability is another key factor to consider.
I think the underlying issue is the 15% (American figures used) of home schoolers go to prove that one size does not fit all. Schools could benefit from a more varied approach to pedagogy, and this would also be yet another indicator of the need for smaller class sizes.

There is also an opportunity, with good time table management to allow parents to home school in certain subjects like maths and English.

All this could be achieved by letting those children who struggle to leave school at midday or just opt out of school for one day a week.

All our articles are for information only and guidance… professional advice should always be sought.  Dyslexia Toby © 2015

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Exam preparation and recall skill by Dyslexia Toby2015 ©

We are fast approaching exam time and many students with a learning need will be worrying about the whole revision process.
There are many ways in which we can store and recall information; we will look at these later.
There are so many things that can affect the flow of information to and from the brain.
I would like to talk about the different areas we use to store and then have to recall information.
Many that have a learning need have great long term memories and poor short term memories.
Normally academic study does not suit those right hemisphere thinkers (dyslexia,dyspraxia,dysgraphia and dyscalculia)
How many memory banks do we have and when do we use them?
What about the functionality of our brain and how can we retain or improve our memory?  Lots more for us to look into.
Our memory kicks in the very minute we are born (Tabula Rasa)… well almost.  Instinct causes us to breath and cry; that first touch, glance or taste are the early entries in our memory banks.  Even fear is a memory of the past (episodic) that comes back and stops us in our tracks…been here before not too sure about this!

All of these are stored (history) and help us build our future.  It is almost like DNA…unique to us. People seem to feel that they know what’s in your head…sorry, only you know that!  Many of us would feel our memory falls short of what we would like it to be, when in fact it’s much better than we believe it to be.

The brain is the most complex part of our body and, without a doubt, the nerve centre; without this we are nothing.  It monitors sensors from all over our body and feeds back the signals required to complete every task we do every day.

The brain also determines where the information is stored and how it’s stored…long term, short term, episodic or indeed if it’s worth storing at all.

Remembering can be from any source…touch, taste, hearing, smell, sight, feeling or indeed a combination of all those things.
It might be a place you have passed before, like a processing plant, your visual kicks in and then your smell completes the link.
Fear is also based on a visit to the past in our minds.

Our memory is an integral part of the brain and is strengthened very much like a muscle.  Different parts are responsible for different things and the key to development from our early years is stimulation.

The process of memory begins with encoding, and then proceeds to storage and, eventually, retrieval.

We see the world in an encrypted fashion, rather like a series of codes (similar to your personal data on a credit card).  The brain uses a form of decoding known as ‘encoding’…this the very first step in memory creation.  Neurons work the busy highways of the brain carrying data back and forth.

 Most people with a learning need such as dyspraxia or dyslexia have very good long term or episodic memories but quite poor short term memories.
This is a key reason for many of their fears such as the dentist, scared of animals or flying.

So let’s talk about recall!  In Simplistic terms, it is the way our brain draws on stored information for immediate use.
Like taking on a task that you haven’t done in a while, maybe an exam or cooking a dish. Many of these require replicated information as opposed to combining subsets of information.
There are a few ways in which information can be drawn from long-term memory.

One variant is for things such as form filling, we read what’s in front of us and rarely link this to past events.
We are pulling parts of information in order to complete the task.

Collating. This is one area where we can use past events to construct a story; such as an essay. This is a very positive area to work on.

We also do well when it comes to recognition, especially when it comes to factual answers.
We tend to be not so good with fictional things; unless of course we can turn them into fact.

One of my ideas is to create the overlearning and turn all our information into long term storage.

We can do this by quite simply recording all the things we need to learn; this creates a whole range of immediate change to the way our brain processes.

We can also use another of our strengths, and that is to add visual images to most of the subjects we are studying.

Maths is one that requires both long and short term, and this just doesn’t suit those visual factual learners.

We need to take every opportunity to create visual stimuli in this area, draw 3d shapes and colour them in; make a colour code for formulae, etc
Go out in the yard and do area, helping with the cooking can help with volumes and weights.

Reading a book; watch the film after and compare the two and take notes; again record everything.

Just make the learning come alive and best of luck with those exams.

All our articles are for information only and guidance… professional advice should always be sought.  Dyslexia  © 2015Toby

Friday, 6 February 2015

Do we always think before we carry out an action? By Dyslexia Toby © 2015

We work with children and adults each and every day, and they are at their best when focussed and using the thinking area of the brain.
We must ensure as educators and parents that this is the case most of the time
We have several areas and invariably have to switch areas on and off for a variety of reasons such as waking and sleeping.
Our mind is the most powerful tool we have, its use is paramount to our survival.
What is the conscious mind?
We can think of many occasions when we need to be focused and use conscious thought, take maths, you are given a sum, and you process the information. It is possible that we have switched off half way through and arrive at the wrong answer, why.
How many times have you gone from A to B on foot, or maybe a car journey. You just can’t remember certain places you passed through (subconscious), and yet you remained safe and far from a danger to others.
Has your child ever said the don't like the taste of something and you know for sure they have never tried it.
Filtering and visualisation (sub-conscious) can play a huge part in so much of what we choose do or not to do.
Forgetting where you left your phone or purse, etc. for the very same reason, visualisation can help in finding the lost item!
Numbers are just that numbers and make very little sense, when we bring digits together to reduce or grow a number it requires focus for a short but very important period.
We would have a better chance as a visual factual learner to image things to attach to the numbers, such as family members or purchases.
Many with dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia that would have slow processing speed can lose the where with all during a very wordy sum, we need to be extremely alert when employing our logic and reasoning skill sets.
This would cause us to flick from conscious to subconscious, if we introduce stimuli into maths we will have less chance of our students zoning out (subconscious).
We can at very important moments drift into a subconscious state even though we are wide awake, dreaming whilst awake (day dreaming); this drift can cause us to make simple mistakes; such as tripping or spilling a drink or failing to take instruction correctly.
However, if we are fully switched on to all around us we are concentrating and for this reason using our conscious mind!
If a child in a class is distracted, maybe looking around our perhaps yawning this is a good indicator that they are moving or have moved into the sub-conscious (drifting)

What actions are controlled by our subconscious mind?
As mentioned dreaming, breathing and other vital body functions, we know from birth our brain starts to mature; however we have survival techniques; employed from our first breath and that continues regardless of our brain capacity.
I tend to have a regular breathing pattern while occupied or indeed sleeping if I decide to go swimming, something I still fear even though I can swim…my conscious takes over, and my breathing becomes very short and irregular.
This is one area where I would perform better if I left this to my sub-conscious.
I also find the same with things I am good at like playing golf; if I try to think about the way I need to play I make mistakes.
When we have certain thoughts (good and bad) we are often not in control (sub-conscious) of those actions, we can see this with instant regret after the event. Much the same can be said for those that have meltdowns, in many cases, born out of fear.
This can also follow as mentioned with bad memories; more so than pleasant experiences…I was thrown into a pool when I was a young child and that will live with me forever. We can on occasions remove some of the negatives in our episodic memory and move beyond the fear.

We can look at ways of making both of these areas strengths and not weaknesses (SWAT)
SWAT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats)
This is used very effectively within the employment sector and indeed by life coaches.
There is no reason we can’t utilise this technique in our everyday lives, be it children or adult.
Our strengths are often controlled by our sub-conscious and those techniques that we least favour can flick in and out of conscious and sub-conscious.
We can by over learning move things very successfully into our sub-conscious.
The brain has a unique balancing system; we can train in corrections that will improve most things we undertake.
Maybe we have made countless errors in say literacy/language, we can by repetition erase the error that the brain is happy to make by introducing the correction if completed numerous times.
We often use a similar technique to correct actions in others…meltdowns, etc.; shouting and conflict have the opposite effect (fight or flight).
Many of athletes use visualisation through the sub-conscious state to improve performance, and there are many ways we can learn this technique.

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 to offer helpful advice. Dyslexia Toby © 2014