Most Educationists take the summer off. We use this time to refine and develop what we have learned in the last few Academic years. Like our students, we are always moving forward and learning. I will talk about this new Method in more detail over the coming weeks. But needless to say, I'm excited! I think the results we have had contradict everything that has been understood about empathy. In particular, I see this as a way for students to grow and develop their personalities without social anxieties and labels such as Asperger's Syndrome. I would predict that cases will never in future be given a diagnosis of Asperger's. I never set out to "fix" people. It has always been about creating the best versions of themselves but in recent years I have seen that our results mean that students no longer exhibit classically labeled conditions such as Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, ADHD, Asperger's Syndrome or a whole host of other challenges. They move beyond these labels and recognizable challenges.
I am genuinely horrified at the support this recent TEDx talk has received. I feel it is the biggest regression in education in 100 years. As someone who has successfully worked with thousands of students internationally, and got them all to high achieving results and a sense of belonging in academia, I cannot stand the idea that education is becoming elitist again. I have received Ability Company Status for making education accessible to all.
Academics make too many assumptions - which I have had my own personal battles with over the years. Despite it all, I have earned a Ph.D. and a First Class Honours degree. My students are always heartened by the fact that if I could do it - so can they.
TED and TEDx talks generally enhance our World and make everything possible for people. I am horrified over this talk because it is so small minded and exclusive in its nature.
Not everyone can pick up a book and read it to learn. Not everyone can see the book. Not everyone can spell to write or hold the pen. Do not be presumptive in thinking all visual impaired people are not visual learners. Many of them are! All of us who work with students on the autism spectrum know that they process the World very differently to other students. Their visual and auditory processing has marked differences.
My success stories with students have been down pure and simply to the fact that I encourage them to work in the learning style that suits them - despite whatever perceived disabilities they might have.
I myself am still very much unable to distinguished phonic sound frequencies and never learned to spell in the way it is predominately taught in school. I have learned to read and write through purely visual techniques. I have brought this gift to many others who are now avid readers - despite years of torture in school and feeling inadequate. I get excited when parents tell me their children will not sleep because they are reading too much or now teaching their siblings to read their way.
I hate the idea that kinesthetic learners can be great at sports in school and rubbish at everything else. This is not acceptable and even our most successful sports heroes still anguish over how badly they did in school.
Practical people are great at the practicals in school but only get half the marks in the subject because the theory defeats them. Our auditory learners are in constant trouble for talking and often labeled as disruptive chatter boxes. The number of students labelled as ADHD seems to be growing annually as these students struggle to fit into the constraints of school and find it excessively boring. I certainly do not feel we need to blame our parents for our genes or feel that education is unattainable in any way.
We have a duty to understand, care and incorporate these learners into our education systems - not blankly dismiss them all as not existing. These are many of the reasons why students with learning difficulties and impairments have been marginalised for decades.
A better outlook for me has always been that if we get it right for these people we get it right for everyone. I hope people will start to stop and think before they blankly share this very irresponsible TEDx talk. I have not even touched on the personality factors involved in education. Most enlightened Educationalists agree that one size does not fit all. TED is supposed to make us think about our fellow people we share the Planet with.
Dr. Naoisé O'Reilly
I have invested the past 6 years researching ADD / ADHD in my custom built multi-Award winning facilities with families from all around the world. I have some very strong views on medicating ADHD children and always aim to reduce medication levels.
Are Children Being Over Medicated for ADD / ADHD?
Yes. But the real challenges do not show up until children go through the transition from childhood to teenager. It is easy to medicate children. Some parents even tell me they are making their chid safer. The schools like quieter more containable children. But they are not looking at the real reasons for ADHD behavior. The big problem with medicating ADHD people is that they do not build proper emotional benchmarks and strategies. They very often end up feeling very unfulfilled in life as adults because they do not get into the habit of having lots of activities and interests to absorb their natural excess energy.
Extract of my work/words from ADHD book:
“The classic ADHD student exhibits extreme multiplicity. This means they have the potential to take in all information around them in four ways simultaneously. Through visuals, auditory behavior, kinesthetic behavior and practical thinking. This makes them highly sensitive in any ‘average’ environment. They are aware of exactly what’s happening outside the school window, of the lighting in the classroom, everything being said in the entire class by the teachers and other students, all other visual stimulation and the atmosphere and emotions in the room which they suck up like a sponge.”
A Blog I wrote this month revealing publicly for the first time my findings re: ADHD and Asperger’s Syndrome diagnoses:
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™.
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!