My daughter came to me with a problem recently. She has only just been identified as dyslexic and she still doesn’t really understand what it all means. We are however beginning to deal with her difficulties and seeing what works for her.
Well, her problem was to do with writing stories at school.
She told me that they had to write stories based on the topic or literature they were learning about.
She said “Mummy, it’s really hard. I have lots of ideas and know what I want to write about but when I start to write, I forget everything that I was going to say and can’t get it to work”
This struck a chord with me and was similar to a problem that I had while at university. I used to read everything on the subject we were to write about, take copious notes, have a fantastic idea and tell my long suffering parents my full essay before I sat down to write it.
However, when I started, I got about 2 lines in and lost it. No matter how much I revisited my notes I couldn’t understand it again and I was right back at the beginning.
I was told by one of the additional support lectures to try mind mapping. This was something that I had learned at school, I think, but never really saw its significance.
Suddenly I was able to put all my ideas down and link one idea to another. It also helped me not over read and I was able to write down everything I already knew and find out where the gaps were.
When I came to write, while it still had its problems, I was able to focus and minimise my hours of staring at a blank computer screen and the stress and hours of procrastination watching of videos of talking dogs, cats playing the piano etc etc, none of which helped me write my essay.
So when it came to my daughter, we tried mind mapping. I told her to write or draw pictures when the teacher was talking, so that she could remember what had been said.
Then when she still had all her ideas in her head, she drew a diagram of what she thought her story was going to look like, how all the people and places were going to link together and how this related to what she had to write about.
She seems to like this technique and drawing her ideas before she has to put it in to words seems to help her gather her thoughts. It has lessened her frustration about forgetting and getting ‘mixed up’.
For me, mind mapping was like connecting the dots in my mind and focusing my thoughts. I use it for lots of different things in my life now and it is definitely a coping strategy that has worked for me and hopefully my daughter as well.