By Chris Cole, Learning Differences Specialist 2nd December 2019
Chris set up five headings
Awareness of difference
The labelling event
Understanding and negotiating the label
Chris gave some background information of what each stage meant as identified from a 20-year study, released in 2002.
Stage 1: Awareness of difference All participants described a time when, although the problem had not yet been pinpointed, they were aware of being different from other children (both academically and socially).
With this stage there is a type of isolation – of knowing you are different but not the why.
Stage 2: The labelling event This is finding out the “why” you are different. There is usually a sense of relief especially if the person is still at school at the time. As an adult there can be a longer time period of acceptance of the label due to more time having passed trying to “hide” the difference and difficulties.
The process of labelling can be long and include many misdiagnosis of other issues, eg poor eyesight, lazy, poor behaviour, anxiety disorder etc
Stage 3: Understanding and negotiating the label
Following the labelling event participants struggled with two issues:
To understand exactly what having a learning difficulty means (what the person can and can’t do)
To resolve confusion as to what kind of help would be needed, especially as it related to workplace and in social or relationships situations.
Stage 4: Compartmentalisation This is when the person starts to gain understanding of their learning difference and start to see it as a difference rather than a disability. They start to see what they can do well and when they are faced with areas that are difficult they can implement strategies to help themselves.
They are starting to learn to advocate for themselves. They may still have feelings of anxiety in certain situations but are starting to develop an awareness of why they feel that way in certain situations.
Stage 5: Transformation They fully accept their learning difference. They are able to advocate for themselves from a positive place of acceptance.
From the study they found getting to self-acceptance isn’t always easy. The participants report having to negotiate stigma while being expected to achieve the same results as their non-dyslexic peer group with little/no support. So that’s something like this: “There’s something wrong with you, but we expect you to be like everyone else.”
Chris asked the following questions for discussion.
Where does feeling angry sit in the five stages? Discussed most likely to happen in Stages 2 and 3. There can be a lot of anger that it was never identified while the adult had been at school resulting in feeling a lot of anxiety and shame since that time. Being angry is also a coping strategy for when the task to complete is difficult so can be a pattern that has been developed.
What impact does the age at the labelling make? Later in life means it is much more difficult to move through these stages. There is a lifetime of patterns developed for coping emotionally that must be understood and managed before fully accepting the label.
What do you need to get from one stage to the next? Chris mentioned that she can move between Stages 3, 4 and 5 depending on what the situation is, her level of understanding and how she is managing her coping patterns.
All agreed that increasing awareness of the learning difference and the emotional impact that has resulted are fundamental to being able to move forward.
What stage do you need to be to be open about it say in the workplace? Discussed this can depend on the workplace. Also tricky because employment legislation does not support being open about having a learning difference. You would have to be in Stages 4-5 to feel okay to open about it.
What is the impact of other people’s views on your stages through the process? If you do not have the support of others around you, you will still feel isolated and have feelings of frustration that others don’t understand. You can still move through the stages however it can be easier if those around you are aware, they understand and can therefore support you.
Finally, Chris mentioned that while these stages of self-acceptance have a physical journey, it is the emotional journey that can be more difficult to accept. Being together in a group that understands and supports you through this journey is an important part of moving through the stages.
Chris Cole summarises Wayne's message from the night
Wayne spoke of his learning journey through school. He remembered a couple of teachers that made a difference for him. One teacher let him do his artwork on a wall in the classroom.
As Wayne became older he realised that even though reading, spelling and writing were difficult for him (and still are) it didn’t define him. He spoke of how every dyslexic has a creativity with the way they think and that it’s important to find out what that is and to nurture it. Wayne found his ability to express and articulate for himself was through his artworks and his poetry.
Wayne read a few poems out to the group. With writing poetry, he finds words pop into his head and he “scribbles” these down. These are “formatted” for him by a person he sees at the local art centre.
Wayne had a very powerful message – look for your strengths. These define you more than what you struggle with. As adult dyslexics we tend to focus on what is hard and to help improve our self esteem we need that balance of seeing our whole self which includes our strengths.
NB: Creativity comes in many forms. It can be artwork, poems, working with materials, the ability to pull people together for a common cause, the ability to spread information, musical abilities, sporting abilities, engineering, coding etc
Overview ·What is it? ·What are the triggers? ·What are the types of grief? ·How can you function with grief?
Is very common
There is good grief
It can come from sadness, stress and/or shock
You can be grief stricken – it is not just one clear cut emotion
It is the bodies way of dealing with loss from death, changes or other experiences
You feel it on the inside. It affects every part of you, for example, feel tired, can’t concentrate, feel it in the head or heart
Grief is physical
It is internal
It is automatic
What losses trigger grief?
children left home
loss of hopes and dreams
lose sense of identity and confidence
lose person want to be with
What happens to your identity in grief? You have to figure out who you are in a new situation and learn to live with it. You need to learn what that new identity is. Even with good change, the reality of the change can trigger grief. For example, change to retirement, youngest child starts school. Mourning
is an outward way of grieving.
The act of mourning is going to a funeral or giving flowers or burning candles.
Mourning is doing something
Types of grief Grief can be from death or a life transition. It is something that is final. For example, you are moving to a new place to live. It is change that stays with you all your life. Chronic sorrow This is with you all your life and you face it each day. For example, dementia in families. Living loss is another name for chronic sorrow. When you get a diagnosis, this can trigger an emotional part and you have to make adaptations in living daily with it, the loss impacts you everyday. Getting a diagnosis means you want to know and you want to get to know what it is. Living losses are not always evident which means it is hard to live with. What you can do about it
Say OK had enough time trying to make sense of it
turn a negative into positive (This is vital)
How do we shine the light on the positive
listen to our voice, most of our voices are negative
the thoughts we think is who we become
Make the voice more positive by doing something outward (doing something),for example, women might bring a friend to a new experience, men do projects
Other ideas include
actively making decisions
After developing the new normal and your new identity not everything needs to come from the past. Trust your inner voice, check it out with someone first. It's okay to morph and change. Connect with like minded people. Connecting with like minded people refuels us. Stress Stress is important. Too much stress is not great though. Living with lot of change is stressful and we need to flush out the adrenaline. Be aware of your fluid and food intake, drink lots of water. Get on and do it
positive self talk
now can be frustrating, look at future goals
set realistic goals
do journalling, getting it down on paper helps with the processing. It doesn't have to be writing, it can be drawing, painting or sculpting.
Looking after yourself
honor who you are
have acceptance of who you are
have confidence in who you are
have reconciliation of who you are
Control of your dyslexia and your response to being dyslexic. We have to own this. People mime how we respond. Owning it and how we present it makes a difference Advocate for yourself Living loss is real and you are allowed to feel it.
Speaker: Sue Fleury, Literacy Aotearoa on 6 May 2019
Why you may need to go to Work and Income ·Signing up for your Superannuation ·Food grants ·Disability allowance ·Childcare subsidy ·Community services card ·Education and employment related training ·Jobseeker support ·Home help ·Winter energy payment ·Working for Families ·Help with school uniform or school stationery costs ·Studylink
Support provided for a person with dyslexia
Literacy Aotearoa Sue and two others from Literacy Aotearoa are available to support people at all times who come into the WINZ office. They can help people ·understand what they are reading ·typing in the online forms, and ·with what to say.
This service is contracted until September 2019.
Work and Income Disability team only on Wednesday’s Work and Income do provide other support and this is only on Wednesday’s. There is a 3 person team who are available to help with any queries by anyone. If you say at the counter you can’t do this the team will be available.
The Case Manager
Every person at Work and Income are assigned their own case manager. The case manager can go over what is on the form with you and adjust the information as needed.
Using myMSD Work and Income want everyone to use the online myMSD tool. You create your own account with myMSD and on this you can · view all your own information, ·apply for help, for example, benefits, NZ Super ·update Work and Income of any changes ·book appointments
MyMSD will also tell you ·what you need to do ·what documents you will need to take to WINZ.
To sign up you need ID and a cellphone. No data is needed as you only have to receive texts.
Issues with MyMSD for a person with dyslexia ·Online form does not have read aloud feature ·Background colour white/gray ·Requires a large amount of reading ·Lot of information on one page.
I have a life coaching and reflexology business here in Southland – reflexology is a form of massage for those of you that don’t know - with my life coaching I work with confident building, goal setting, business, couple coaching, sexual coaching, addiction, and really motivating my clients to get where they want to go – breaking free from just being stuck and giving them tools to move forward in all every aspect of their lives.
Activity Can I Make everyone stand up for a second …………………I want you to all close your eyes , I want you all to stand up tall ….straighten your shoulders and think of someone that is confidant -either a super hero or a grandparent ….your well respected boss…..your child ……anyone …I know you may feel silly but that’s apart of the fun just trust in what I’m asking of you all……..now I want you to pick a colour that represents this person or character visualise it round you like a bubble……has anyone not got one just put your hand up……………. Right once you have done this, I want you to make that colour represent you and when you feel like you are confidant, I want you to open your eyes…. Who felt more confidant raise your hands? I was aiming for 50% of the room….so that’s good or I’ll have to try harder next time 😊 can everyone come choose something to play.
I have been running a successful business for the last 3years, where I can work around my three young children 10 – 7 & 5 I choose my own hours and my hourly rate. Before this I had a wedding dress business where I imported dresses from a famous outlet store in the states. I sold this in 2014 where I made a 100% profit.
Business to me is common sense and a lot of hard work but so worth it. Having something that you built up from scratch and to watch it grow is one of the best feelings out. But I wasn’t always like this. I struggled big time as a child as I am sure most of you here can relate. I was a late 80’s baby and school was not for me. I became the destructive one in class because the teachers used to call me dumb, they made me feel worthless and useless and was always sent to the back of the class. I remember one time very vividly in primary school where my book was ripped up because I was missing lines while I was copying text from the back board.
Intermediate and high school were just as bad. High school I got extremely bored because I missed out on the fundamentals in primary school and by then it was far too late…. My parents knew my struggles and it must have been frustrating for them. My parents were great. Mum always tried to help me with my homework but being very intellectual herself, she got frustrated and ended up doing most for me so I could just copy. My father has struggled with Dyslexia all his life, so he knew of ways to help get my frustration out by taking me out to the garage and putting me in front of the boxing bag or every other weekend taking me bush and going hunting. This kind of became a ritual for us and was a great tool that I still use sometimes.
Another example was- in fourth form, my math teacher called me out in front of the entire class room when I put my hand up to ask a question. Before I even got to ask, she told me to put it down because it was going to be a stupid question and sent me out of the room. I stood up and argued with her which did me no good in the end and I was sent to the principal’s office.
This became my school life and feeling worthless and dumb as a teenager I got into a lot of trouble trying to find my way I got into a bad crowd and started wagging school and became dependent on alcohol and drugs. At 16 I left school, my parents rule was if you are going to leave you need to get a job, I had been working since I was 13 at the chicken factory cleaning after school and working full time in school holidays so when I left high school, I felt factory work was all I was good for (how wrong was I). I then got a second job at Cobb’n’Co and worked both jobs for around 6 months sometimes 18hour days. At 16 I moved out of home I continued partying but worked just as hard as I partied. So, at just 16 I was out of home, dependent on drugs, sex and alcohol and was working 18hr days. I am very grateful for is the strong work ethic my parents installed into us kids. I then moved to Te Anau for a couple of years and worked in the THV hotel as a waitress in the mornings and evenings and cleaning in-between – it was after that I got an amazing job opportunity with fantastic bosses who saw something in me and I became the manager of the Te Anau Dairy with 4 younger staff under me being only 18years old.
It wasn’t until I fell pregnant with my eldest daughter at 20, I knew I was a lot more and wanted a lot more than what I was. I have always been good with people and had/ have a natural ability to counsel others and from a young age I knew I wanted to make a difference in other people’s lives. This has always been a huge driver in my life – like a dripping tap in the background I couldn’t turn off. I got married in 2010 and my husband encouraged me to do something with myself, so I started to build up my wedding dress business. It was called Centre of Attention, a name that came to me watching my eldest daughter as she always liked to be the Centre of Attention, and to be honest so do I. Not in the way of, look at me, look at me, but in a way that I like to walk into a room and build up the energy to make others feel comfortable.
I was a young mum worked on the farm, driving tractors, milking and feeding calves and worked as a causal at the Riverton nursing home and put my mind to work at night time building up Centre of Attention. Being Dyslexic helped me so much more than what I gave credit as I didn’t understand at the time, being dyslexic my mind could see the whole picture then I was able to let my mind go - draw it all down and brainstorm……then brain storm, then brain storm. My mind exploded every time I spoke to trusted friends as they would come up with a single idea and my brain would go into over drive expanding it…. into something amazing….
My favourite part was meeting the new brides and being able to picture their body shape and personality all in one to find their dream dress. I could dress women in dresses that made them look absolute stunning and in something they never thought they could wear. It was an honour being a part of their special day. I sold it as I had a person approach me and wanting to come in 50/50, I couldn’t see this happening so decided to let it go. I then got bored so a year later I wanted to continue to grow but what? I couldn’t study as I couldn’t write or read out loud – reading in my head was fantastic because I would watch a movie play as I read. I turned some of the words into something different as long as it was in context. (Sally’s speech last month was fantastic when she said her mum used to send her to her room to read the book instead of reading out loud to them, she just had to replay the context inside)
So again, I felt I was stuck. I knew I wanted to do something to help others, that dripping tap was getting louder and not so much in the background anymore. I thought what could I do? What about becoming a counsellor? I didn’t realize how much help I could have had throughout my learning experiences with my studies (being dyslexic) At this time, I was lucky enough to meet my mentor and close friend Jackie Freemantle. This woman I cannot speak highly enough of, what she had done in her life still blows me away. She has been into villages in South Africa that no man let alone white South African women could enter and she did and taught the children and helped heal the sick with her advanced knowledge of medicine. People fly from America just to see this woman and I was lucky enough to have met her and her late husband Grant. Jackie taught me all about reflexology, brain mapping, natural medicine and so much more. She also suggested for me to become a life coach so I found NZ Life Coaching and even better the study didn’t have any written tests, PERFECT!
Study became fun because I was interested in what I was about to study. Hard because of the language. I had to learn from scratch, but it was still fun, it became a challenge and I was determined to succeed. As everything in my life, if I was committed, I was %100 committed.
Have you ever found that dictionaries are hopeless because you have no idea what the first to letters start with? And then so you try the thesaurus, and this was just as bad because you firstly didn’t know how to spell the word and then you didn’t know what it meant so therefore it was just hopeless. Well I found Suri. OMG Suri saved my life. I would click on the little icon on my cell phone, speak into it and boom, it came up with not only the word but the meaning also ……double win for me 😊
When I was studying, I always had three different pages opened. I would study the context, then study every word that I wasn’t familiar with and then write in my own words. I found this to be a great tool. I found typing or physically writing it out in my own words helped me heaps. I did a 6 months online study before my week intense block course and I passed!!! The people in my course where school teachers, counsellors, people in executive roles, one lady was a college professor and then there was me…well this is how I felt at the time. I remember one lady coming up to me thinking I was someone of high importance because I carried myself well and presented myself as confident, just like you all did before. I learnt to do that many years ago as a mask but then became my reality – fake it till you are it! So back to what I was saying. I was early to the course on the first day , I made sure I was early to choose where I wanted to sit to help me focus (another tool I find that’s really important to make sure you are on top of the game) – as more and more people were walking in she came over and sat with me and whispered “ oh everyone here doesn’t really look like much do they I was expecting much more, maybe I’m on the wrong course”. I was quite taken back by what she said and smiled politely. On the second last day of the course we had to all stand up and speak for 5mins before we got our certificate the next day. I stood up and said my story. I told everyone of when I was a little girl all I wanted was a horse and to dance but sadly at the time there was no way my parents could afford these things. My father worked hard in the bush felling trees throughout the week and hunted to put food on our table in the weekends and my mother raised us kids well. I begged them to take me to dance lessons and I even walked the neighbour’s dog and painted rocks to sell to fund my horse dream. I even had an old hack and paddock lined up but still my parents wouldn’t allow it. However, as an adult I never let my dreams go. I went on to get my first horse and learnt all I had to, and I even attended hip hop lessons and danced in front of 100’s of people at a live Sharks basketball game and on TV.
I was so taken back by everyone at the course and to be honest was intimidated by their intelligence. I shocked a few people with my talk, and I thanked each and everyone of them for what they had given me. The women that whispered in my ear on the first day cried and said she was so taken aback by me and how much she had under estimated everyone in the room. She was so embarrassed.
How you see others is a reflection of yourself good or bad.
Its up to us. It’s up to you and me to use our weakness as strengths. See I was seen as less as these people but won their hearts by completely being myself, by being authentic, and by thinking outside the box and using resources such as Suri to finish my studies and succeed. I still struggle sometimes but I sure do love me a good challenge. I have a hard work ethic and I will be successful in everything I put my mind too. Dyslexia is not something to be ashamed of being dyslexic has helped me succeed.
On the whiteboard we looked at difficulties (weaknesses) with being dyslexic and then worked through them with the strategies we can use to make then a strength. Some of the weaknesses included; Anxiety Frustration Ability to express Dictionary Processing Self doubt
Diagnosis focused on the negative – how I didn’t fit what was considered normal.
Not well understood
Not a lot of support around
Biggest support was my SPELD tutor who helped with extra tuition
Fumbled my way through school
I had one particular teacher who treated me differently, unfortunately I let her inability to understand dyslexia make me feel bad about it and that is my biggest memory of primary school Even though lots of good things happened as well. I’m sure you have all had an experience like that too Supportive parents
I have parents that wanted to see me do well and understood I was intelligent, I just struggled to use conventional tools like reading and writing to communicate. When I was diagnosed as a child it was so my parents could understand and help me learn. My mother was great she tried lots of different things to help me learn.Not all of them worked but there are 2 things that I do know worked.
Silent reading an article and explaining it to her
Instilling a love of reading – escaping into stories, other peoples live and struggles.
What to do for work?
I got through secondary school, repeated some subjects twice and came out with an average grade
I would find information would go in and get scrambled.
I didn’t know what to do with myself
I didn’t think I would be able to keep up with university
I thought I would only be good as a labour (nothing wrong with that)
I didn’t value myself, my skills
I didn’t understand that dyslexia gave me an advantage other people don’t have.
I worked for a number of years then and found my passion – Mana Island Then I got to a point I couldn’t progress my career without further education I had a bit of crisis – lived on an island with one other person, wasn’t very healthy…..frustrated by work How I helped myself.
I decided I needed to change things in my life if I wanted things to change. The first place I started was with me, I had to change how I thought about me
Counselling – confronting myself, grief with dyslexia
Got tested for Dyslexia (again) – why because I needed to understand my brain –This diagnosis focused on what my brain could do
I believed my brain wasn’t very good But what I learnt was something else "What I noticed what that all diagnoses focus on the negative autism, ADHD How they are not ‘normal’ But there are a lot of strengths with all of these" – Temple Grandin I have an awesome brain!
I use both sides of my brain – AT THE SAME TIME!
I quickly grasp concepts and understand things that require strategic thinking
I am good at organising and planning complex events
I can think through problems and come up with solutions other people don’t think of
I can understand different sides to arguments and find common ground
My brain isn’t broken, dumb or doesn’t work.It just works differently Works differently from what? – everyone’s brain works differently We are lucky, our ‘thing’ has a name and people understand how our brains work What I did
I decided to go back to school
Moved to Southland
Did a 3 year degree – 1 year by correspondence
I own my dyslexia – it doesn’t own me I think of it now as my super power Like all super powers they take a bit to master, but they are powerful In the workplace
When I go for a new job and they ask me is there anything else they should know about me I say yes, I am dyslexia and these are the benefits to you
I know my limitations and ask for help
I know I need people to proof read my work
I know I need to have a pen and paper in my hand
I know my work is better when I use a computer
But my colleague needs help with computer stuff so we all have things we need help with I currently work in a job I would struggle to do without dyslexia, it gives me an advantage. My job involves
Understanding complex and technical information
Developing strategies and processes for engaging the community this information
Engaging with communities that have their own complexities and needs and marrying up this information to get a result.
Here are a few skills I have picked up along the way
Love of reading – how I wanted to read (silently)
Allows me to type as fast as I think
Allows me to get my thoughts out an and then reorganise them to make sense.
Allows other people be able to read my writing
Reading about other people with learning difficulties
People who had much more difficulty than me. For example, Temple Grandan
What I now know
Be honest with myself
I’ll never be a journalist or an accountant
Find what you love
Fake it till you make it
Have a go – I hold yourself back
The more you try – the more you succeed the more you will succeed – give it a go!
Know your parents love you and are trying to do the best for you.
It’s frustrating and difficult but so is harnessing any super power.
Presenter: Chris Cole, Learning Differences Advisor and a person with dyslexia.
Topic: The holistic impact of dyslexia
Overview of talk: ·Definition of dyslexia and impact on learning ·The emotional impact of living with dyslexia ·What happens when you get anxious ·Steps to manage the anxiety
Notes from presentation
Dyslexia is defined as ·Having normal to above normal intelligence ·Difficulty learning to read, write and spell ·Difficulty with hearing the sounds that make up words (phonological awareness) ·Difficulty with short term memory ·Difficulty with sequencing information ·Is a learning difference ·This learning difference has strengths
Short term memory problems can be ·Not able to retain information while copying ·Not able to retain instructions – especially verbal ones ·When reading, not able to remember the information from the start of a sentence by the time you read the end of the sentence.
Sequencing problems can be ·How to write emails in a logical way that flows and makes sense ·Knowing the days of the week, months of the year ·Knowing the steps in an order to complete calculations in maths ·How to express ideas, especially when you have to write them down, in a logical order.
Learning difference strengths ·Able to see the big picture, the end result before starting something ·Really good ability to connect information to get a different solution ·Visual based learner ·An ability to know how others feel ·These strengths are important in the workplace
The emotional impact of living with dyslexia ·80% of a learning difficulty is learning stress. ·Learning stress is the low self esteem and heightened anxiety resulting from having a difficulty with learning ·The learning difficulty comes when the environment does not understand and work with the person who has a learning difference, eg schools, workplaces.
What happens when you get anxious ·Chris presented a picture showing what happens when a person gets anxious ·It’s a normal reaction and everyone gets anxious ·It happens more for people with dyslexia around their learning ·It comes from being worried and scared that you will look dumb or get it wrong ·The end result is the brain goes “offline” when they become very anxious ·The brain goes offline when the chemical cortisol floods the brain and the person is not capable of rational thought until the chemical goes away.
Triggers that can make your brain go offline when you are dyslexic ·Seeing a page of writing ·Having to do something quickly ·Too may verbal instructions at once ·A person speaking with a grumpy sounding or impatient sounding voice ·Having to write an email ·Not knowing how to spell a word
Strategies to get the brain back on line ·Important to get your brain back “on line” ·You learn and work better and show what you know better when your brain is “on line” ·Tummy breathing helps ·Thinking or talking about your brain going offline
Steps to manage the anxiety ·Identify the triggers that make your brain go offline ·Recognise that this is your brain telling you that you find this task difficult ·Aim to get your brain back on line ·Apply above strategies