This is why when I now do Psychological Assessments of young children I am very focused on a fun enjoyable experience - a trauma free zone if you like.
I was 8 when I had my second Psychological Assessment and 16 when I had my third. I have lived with hereditary Profound Dyslexic Spectrum Disorder since birth and it still impacts of every aspect of my daily life - but I developed ways to cope.
I remember there were pages and pages of how I did not measure up to other children my age. There was never help given to my parents and I to assist me in working the way I needed to work. The only focus was on what I could not do.
Hence, this is why I started to develop my own methods of learning from 4. I was also acutely aware at 4 that I was completely incapable of doing what the School and Government Shrinks wanted me to so.
These days, I set children and families up for success no matter how “behind” the rest of the world perceives a child’s cognitive development and behaviors.
Every family I have dealt with personally, and that is thousands of people at this stage, are set up to succeed in the precise ways that their child is capable of learning and developing.
Personality is a massive factor in development. Some people are more independent that others. They may walk faster, they may be quieter. Some people are born chatterboxes and others do not speak until much later on. Some will not play by themselves others are loners. No one can be put on a scale and expected to fit.
Even children who have hearing impairments and a great big long list of conditions I deal with can develop better and learn faster with the right interventions. It does not matter what it is - no two children can rise to their challenges in the same ways.
How can a professional determine if a 4-year is up to task with cognitive development?
Most professionals rely on standardized test. Personally, I do a session with the child using my “toolbox.” This involves a whole series of games with everything from Playdoh to magnets. This allows me and my Team to test abilities across a whole spectrum without the child even being aware of it. All the testing is completed without the child feeling like they are being examined.
What if the 4-year old cannot do all the cognitive skills for his/her age?
Should a parent worry?
I do not deem tasks age appropriate. I strongly believe development is a little bit more complex and I think it is unfortunate that a lot of learning difficulties are determined on an age scale. This ends up making parents feel very bad about their child’s development. During my initial assessments, yes sure it is always very obvious to me what people cannot do, but it is equally obvious if they have fantastic visual pattern recognition or memory association skills. These can be used to develop the areas that are lacking. Just the same ways I achieved a First Class Honors Degree followed by a Doctorate when told as a teenager that University was “beyond my status.”
I think the system sets up parents to worry. But one of my key tasks in taking on any new case is to put everyone’s mind at ease and make everything doable. Families always walk out the door with a way, structure, plan an if necessary Team support to do everything.
How can a parent help a child develop these skills?
I set up programs for parents to use the everyday in their own home to help their children. I think one of the disadvantages of our technological world is that it is very removed from other people and parents. Yes, I do like to use some Apps but I like to develop skills using less remote games. Child cookery, for example, builds time management skills and the use of a radio in the background helps children filter information.
Dr. Naoisé O'Reilly Expression Developist™
Don’t use florescent lighting.
Don’t use energy saving bulbs in main work lamp.
Use 25W bulb - normal filament bulb in desk lamp.
In office space - even turn off the florescent lighting and use your own desk lamp!
Don’t have a white desk! Mine is red. IKEA have amazing colourful table top options. Or use a large desk blotter that is coloured with non-white paper. Surrounding ourselves in colour makes our workspace more creative.
Try to sit beside natural light.
Have natural light to the side of you while working on a computer - not behind you causing a glare on the screen. Also in front of you it offers little help.
Don’t sit in front of a projector. Get some serious distance! They are the biggest cause of eye strain / damage after florescent lighting. Like the sun - never look directly at projector light.
Turn down the light setting. Increase the colours and adjust the contrast so it actually suits you.
Some computers naturally set the light - check it as the day goes on that it is not automatically raising the brightness too much for you.
For large amounts of writing or report reading - invert the colours to white on black.
With Company work - create your own template form for word processing that is not white - this has been written on a personalised template and exported to a PDF when completed.
Pick a font that suits you - We purchased one especially for our work. It is called ‘Monolith.’ Tahoma and Helvetica are good choices. Times New Roman should be deleted from society as the worst font ever to read from. You are looking for a rounded font where the big letters and small letters look considerably different. The font colour we use is very dark purple instead of black.
Kindle and iPad settings are done separately.
Don’t use traditional paper.
Use squared / boxed paper for detail work or graph pads for layout and blank paper for ideas. Plan ideas out on larger sheets A3/A2.
Always use coloured paper where possible. Not white.
For study notes - it is good to use blank paper of different colours. Set up a colour system that helps you to remember ideas going together. You should then be able to see your page in your head when you need to recall the information!
Pick notebooks to use that suit you. Moleskine are great because the paper is off-white and offers paper choices. Escape school copy books where possible! Or stick coloured material into them.
On a white board the best colours are Blue and Purple. These are our most used pens ever!
If you are planning out ideas on a white board - buy your own set of markers. Evans in Mary Abbey, Dublin have a good selection or Eason’s (formally Read’s Nassau Street). Pick finger tips if that suits you.
Use markers to write ideas out instead of pens. They have quicker flowing ink and don’t slow down our thoughts. We think faster than we can write!
Don’t use black pens/markers. They are the hardest colours to read.
Coloured Post-Its can be great for mapping out ideas. They allow us to change the order of the ideas, form, structure effortlessly and then expand the ideas even more.
Pick stationary that suit you.
Don’t use hard roller pens and especially not biros! They are very hard to write well with.
Try Pilot Hi-Techpoint. They have two sizes 0.5mm and 0.7mm pick what suits you.
Try fine liners too as they slow our writing and it can be neater. Also loads of colours!
Dr. Naoisé O’Reilly
From my experience helping students across a whole spectrum of dyslexic conditions of all ages - dyslexia boils down to difficulties across 4 areas.
1: Visual Perception
2: Auditory Processing
4: Information filtering
This sounds a lot simpler than the endless technical jargon of psychological reports.
We see differently, we take information into our heads differently, it comes back out of our mouths and on to the page differently, we swap orientations and don't know our left from right and we become overloaded in certain situations and can't filter the information to focus on what is important. Dyslexia Spectrum in a nut shell. All you simply have to do is to work on these core skills and work in the way that suits the learner best - match their learning style to overcome the area or areas that hold them back.
Dr. Naoisé O'Reilly, Expression Developist™.
New Development Theory to understand patterns in Education and to change the Educational Blueprint™. From this a new approach to Education and a new focus on Expression was Developed, Expression Developist™.
New unique Methods and Proven Theories to understand the Individual elements to get Successful Results with all ages and Individuals in the shortest time possible. Applied at all levels in Education and all sized Companies, Situations and Individuals Globally, including Teams. This has led to Ground Breaking Results being Proven with Companies, in particular, recording huge increases in Profits. Featured News Story by 105 Media Organizations Worldwide including C.B.S. Money Watch in the United States.
Understanding the Individual Learning Styles and how they work in different situations. Understanding why People fall apart while under pressure... Which has lead on to another new Theory, The Pressure Cooker Effect™. This has been particularly significant when working with Individual Clients to help them fulfill long terms aspirations.
I have had a gut feeling over the last number of years that it makes no sense to me when I am contacted to take on cases with both a diagnosis of A.S. and A.D.H.D. For me it has felt like 'oil and water don’t mix.'
Over the last 6 years I have evaluated all the new students and clients of all ages spanning 5 to 75 years. I now see many strikingly clear patterns that explain my earlier feelings logically.
The first important point is that all A.D.H.D. students, regardless of age, exhibit what I see as multiplicity. This is the ability to take in information in all 4 learning styles. I wrote an article on this in 2012 when I first saw clearly why so many of the students who come to us struggle in conventional school. They simply don’t get to learn the material in enough different ways simultaneously and they get bored! It’s worth noting that we have never had a diagnosis of A.D.H.D. in any of our learning environments and that we don’t ever see the tell tale effects of A.D.H.D. behaviour. Another scary fact is that in conventional education we start to lose multiplicity from the age of 10 and in many cases it is gone completely by 15 - without intervention. We become the linear thinking people the system has created.
I recorded a short video introduction to A.D.H.D. and behavioural effects we see including Diffuse Focus™ where our attention is always being dragged away to hide what we can and cannot really do.
So, where A.D.H.D. students show multiplicity - A.S. students are slightly more linear and show a very different set of Purple Processing Scales™. These are the scales I have developed to understand how we take in information from our world and how we process the information to retain it.
There are marked differences in the visual and auditory Purple Processing Scales™ for Dyslexia Spectrum, A.D.H.D., A.S. and so on.
I have always felt that there is a 'lost in translation' element to A.S. You ask a question and get a very different answer from the one you are expecting because the question has been interpreted completed differently.
You have never met a quiet A.D.H.D. student and you seldom meet what is viewed as a disruptive A.S. one. A.D.H.D. students tend to be remarkably good at presentation and general chat, whereas A.S. students tend to be very quiet and reserved - until they find their confidence or their subject.
Auditory learners don’t just need to learn by listening - they also have to talk out the ideas and ask endless questions - hence they are often seen as chatterboxes in school.
This means that A.D.H.D. students naturally have a form of self-expression. Whereas A.S. students, with their different Auditory profile, can lack self-expression. This is why it is so important for us to help these students to write their inner thoughts and ideas. A.S. students can be seen to have such whacky ideas that their writing is not always received well in response to conventional school work and they can lack structure. Also, A.S. students, before they gain confidence, can appear to give you the answer in the shortest number of words - which matches their confidence in speech. We have developed ways to overcome these traits very quickly. Ironically, A.S. people can go on to be amazing writers - and with certain use of their Purple Processing Profile they can learn to spell much easier than people on a pure Dyslexic spectrum! Of course, there are many people coming to us that have an Auditory Processing Disorder (A.P.D.) who are wrongly diagnosed altogether. Understanding personality of course plays a vital role in all of my work. I don't think it is possible to separate out understanding of personality and understanding of processing. You have to look at both together. This is why at all of my initial sessions I am creating a profile for both, Purple Profiling™.
So, I was correct 6 years ago - there is a world of difference between an A.S. and A.D.H.D. diagnosis and they don't have the same Purple Processing Scales™ - which I have now proven! Expression is key to all of our successes.
Dr. Naoisé O'Reilly, Expression Developist™.
P.S. For the record, I don't even believe that Aspergers and A.D.H.D. exist in the ways the establishment view them. My new challenge is to start debunking these areas in 2015!
I always see ADD and ADHD as an affect of what is really going on with the students who come to me looking for help and support with their school work. This has helped me to coin a term over the last 4 years called "Diffuse Focus™" to describe what is really happening for them. I equally see these patterns of behaviour carried through to adult life with our business clients!
Dr. Naoisé (Expression Developist™)