How to speak with your dyslexic child about their career prospects

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Parents can get anxious about what their dyslexic child might be able to do for a living when they grow up, especially if school is a struggle. So, how can you help nurture your child’s career interests without over-raising ambitions or creating self-limiting beliefs?

Adam Grant, professor of management and psychology, said in his recent essay that trying to identify the ideal job is actually counter-productive because you’re highly unlikely to ever find it, and if you do, the reality of it will be underwhelming as it’s not what you’ve built up in your mind.

As a result, Grant says the main question you should avoid asking your child is ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’

There are four main problems with this question.

  1. Their responses will be limited to the few jobs they’ve been exposed to
  2. As their parent, you might inadvertently project your own unrealistic expectations or limiting beliefs and pessimism on to their ideas
  3. We have no idea what jobs of the future are – or aren’t – anyway, so we can’t begin to imagine whether jobs of today will still be around, or what other new occupations today’s children can expect to fulfill as adults
  4. They’re not likely to have just one job, but a suite of jobs, and roles that change throughout their career

Your child’s career prospects are being shaped every day by global issues beyond anyone’s control. Think back just 15 years ago. Did you ever dream that jobs like Social Media Manager, Data Miner, 3D Print Technician or Driverless Car Engineers would exist, let alone be the norm? Fast forward 15 years from now, can you begin to imagine what industries and roles might exist that your child and their differing abilities will excel in? The good news is that, according to Ernst & Young’s report on the Value of Dyslexia, the jobs of the future will need dyslexic thinking skills, and the young dyslexic people of today represent the talent solution of the future, providing their natural skills in problem solving and collaboration, and character strengths and values are well nurtured.

Farai Chideya, author of The Episodic Career, predicts that the next generation are unlikely to have the same job for life, as their parents and grandparents expected; so adaptation to change, full understanding of themselves and awareness of the changing job market are key to putting their talents to best use.

So, instead of the dreaded ‘what do you want to do when you grow up?’ question, the best way you can have the career conversation with your dyslexic child is to ask them ‘what type of person do you want to be?’, ‘what problems do you want to solve?’, ‘what difference to you want to  make?’ and ‘what talents will you use to do that?’ They might just surprise you. You’ll be helping them prepare for life, as well as work.

What responses do you get? Let us know.

Check out this John Oliver clip highlighting the downside of children deciding now what job they want to do.

Katie Carmichael, Career Coach

 

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Dyslexia Scotland’s Resource Centre

A brilliant service and resource for Members.

Composition with hardcover books

I am Doreen and I have recently taken over the resource centre volunteer role. I have known about the resource centre for years, but somehow never got round to using it until I was put in charge of it. I have noticed the main users of the resources are tutors. Which is great and tutors please continue to get in touch and borrow the books and educational resources.  That’s what they are there for.

However, few other members seem to be making use of this fantastic resource. I am not sure what the barriers are for everyone. For myself my lack of use was down to not really understanding how to use the website to search for things. Also, it wasn’t like I could just pop to Stirling from East Kilbride (the way I could my local council library).

So I would like to provide a quick introductory guide to Dyslexia Scotland’s Resource Centre. Members of Dyslexia Scotland can:-

  • Borrow 2 books at a time
  • For up to 3 months (and extensions can be requested)
  • Books/resources can be sent in the mail
  • Books can be requested by  email at resourcecentre@dyslexiascotland.org.uk or by calling 01786 446650. 

You Can Search the Resource Centre Books:-

  • In the member’s area of Dyslexia Scotland’s website http://www.dyslexiascotland.org.uk/
  • You will need to sign in. At the top of the HOME screen on the purple navigation bar you will find “Member login”
  • Click on “Member message board”

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I’m normally in the office in Stirling on a Monday or a Tuesday (10:30am – 3pm). More information about our resource centre can be found here.

Doreen Kelly, Resource Centre Volunteer

A gift for you

We’re sharing our latest magazine with you. 

Spring is here and with the lighter evenings and milder days we also bring you the Spring edition of our members magazine, Dyslexia Voice.  As usual, the magazine is packed full of great articles and information for children and adults with dyslexia, parents and professionals.  We want more people to be able to benefit from the magazine so, as a one-off, this edition will be available online to everyone. Subscribing to future magazines means that you’ll become a member of Dyslexia Scotland and part of a growing voice to help us raise awareness and understanding of dyslexia across Scotland.

Membership costs just £25 for a family, £20 for individuals and £10 concessionary rate per year.  As well as the quarterly magazine you also get discounts on assessments and our Education Conference.  You also get access to our Resource Centre and the chance to borrow books – there’s an online catalogue if you don’t live near us and we can send out resources.  There are often some great offers on the members’ area of our website and if there’s a branch of Dyslexia Scotland in your area, a percentage of your subscription goes to them.

The theme of the Spring magazine is Dyslexia and Studying and we hope you enjoy it.

Following huge demand for our Parent Masterclasses, our Autumn magazine will be a special edition featuring tips and information from the events.  Our Winter magazine will focus on self-esteem, social well-being and social interaction.

Why not make sure they’ll be dropping through your letterbox by joining online today?

 

#joinDS #membership #dyslexia

 

Laying a brighter career path

Crazy-Paving.jpg Dyslexia Scotland’s Career Coach, Katie Carmichael, explores how studying what you enjoy can lead to a fulfilling career.

We focus a lot on the issues of how to study, but before you even get there, do you really know what to study? And how are you deciding? We often try to decide what to study based on what job that might help us get, to plan out a direct pathway to what we’ve convinced ourselves, or been convinced by others, is the right occupation.

Keep an open mind

Road Trip Nation, career education organisation, observes that “life is only linear in the rear view mirror.” In other words, when we look back, we can probably spot the patterns and connections between our career decisions and activities, but if we expect to plot straight line to a very specific point in front of us, we might miss the real opportunities along the way as we charge down a very narrow pathway. Some of our best career opportunities can actually come about through chance encounter, as we go about doing what we enjoy and being open to new experiences.

Listen to your gut

When you’re making a decision about what to study, whether choosing your school subjects, applying for a college course or even undertaking learning for leisure, it’s perfectly ok to base that decision on your best feelings, rather than reasons, as following your intuitions can form a happier, more diverse and colourful career journey.

Lay your own path

Sir Dominic Cadbury, of chocolate fame, said that “There’s no such thing as a career path, it is crazy paving and you have to lay it yourself.” Imagine yourself making each step in whichever direction you are curious about at that point in time. Whatever stage you are at in your career or learning, you will probably have noticed that studying is easiest when it’s something you enjoy and are good at.

The reason being, that when we are really, truly engaged in what we are studying, we experience that sense of ‘flow’ that helps us to learn, feel confident and ultimately to grow and develop.

Scotland puts this in to action for young people, as the principles of Curriculum for Excellence recognise that all learning can be channelled through a subject or activity of interest, and that this builds the foundations for well-rounded human beings. This approach to studying makes for life-long and life-wide learning (and studying) success.

As there will certainly be things you know you have to learn in life or work, you can make studying have more ‘flow’ by directing the learning through a subject or activity that you are curious about, and, when you are faced with a choice about what to study, listen to what your heart wants, as well as what your head thinks.

Learning Points:

  • It’s ok to follow your heart when choosing what to study
  • Fulfilling careers aren’t always planned – often they’re discovered
  • The more enjoyable studying is, the easier it is to learn

Some further reading:

Here are some examples of people whose fulfilling careers have emerged from combining things they enjoying doing:

Did you know? Dyslexia Scotland has a members’ resource library with useful books on fun ways to develop learning, including on Literacy through Art.

This Scottish study makes a link between playing football and learning maths.

Let us know – what interests do you combine to make work or learning really enjoyable?

Katie Carmichael, Career Coach

 

When did your dyslexia story begin?

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The hardest part of having dyslexia is always figuring out where to start. It’s easy to say, you start at the beginning. But what does that mean. This is why my story doesn’t have a beginning, but it does have an end – I’ve just not got that far yet.

I first began to notice my struggles in secondary school. The teachers taught one way and I only learn one way. Unfortunately for me, it was different from the way the teachers taught. The only escape I had was my Art class, as you cannot teach someone how to express themselves as only they can figure that out on their own. That is when I realised my passion for Art & Design, there was no right or wrong way of doing it. I understood the importance of a painting portraying a thousand words. I finally found my passion.

Following secondary school, I attended college for 3 years and moved onto studying Interior and Architectural Design at Heriot Watt University. It was at University when I was tested for dyslexia by a specialist, whom I employed myself. Speaking to someone who could explain what I was feeling was such a relief. It became clear that all my life, I was trying to climb the stairs with my shoes tied together, but not anymore.

I still faced difficulties through my studies however, if you find your strategies to help you understand something it gets easier, I promise.

I used to think I would never achieve higher education and here I am, a graduate of Heriot Watt with a 2:1 Honours Degree in Interior and Architectural Design. In this world, there will always be people who will tell you that you aren’t good enough and who try to shoot you down. You may have fallen more times than you can count, but the only thing that matters is if you can stand back up again.

Margaret-Ann O’Hara

Supporting your dyslexic child

Today, we have a guest blog from Oliver at Twinkl. The resources referred to in this blog are free to download.

Having your child identified as dyslexic can be a difficult thing to hear as a parent, but even more so for the child in question. Questions about what dyslexia is, what it means for the future and how to manage it are likely to be playing on his or her mind. The most important thing is that it doesn’t mean future goals and aims have to change. Here are some suggestions about how to explain dyslexia to your child and effectively support them without changing your life aims.

Talk through what Dyslexia is

It’s possible, especially in younger children that they won’t have even heard of dyslexia before, so it is important to explain simply and clearly what it is and what it means for the child. It’s likely an educational practitioner will help to explain this to your child. Even if they have, it might be useful to go through it again at a later date in your own time as your child may feel more comfortable asking questions.

It is important to make your child aware that they can ask questions at all times. You should nurture this and ensure that they feel comfortable asking, whenever the questions might come along. It may be a good idea to give your child all the information they’ll likely need to allow them to read about it and research around it themselves without the pressure of parents. This promotes independence and allows them to form questions in their own time. They can then ask you whenever they’re ready.

To help broach the subject and pass the correct information to your child try using this free PowerPoint from Twinkl which helps children understand dyslexia.

Use examples

The younger the child, the more they’ll look for role models both in their own lives and through famous faces they might recognise. There are many famous celebrities who demonstrate what can be achieved by people who also have dyslexia. These include Jamie Oliver, Tom Cruise, Keira Knightley and Albert Einstein.

Using these famous names and faces can help your child to realise that their dreams or goals don’t have to change as a result of the dyslexia identification. It might help to use these celebrities as case studies and explore what they’ve been able to achieve in more detail. There are resources to help do this included in the ‘See Dyslexia Differently’ pack on Twinkl.

Dyslexia in the media

To help your child, it is also a really positive step to find TV, films or books that feature dyslexia. Watching or reading about children or people that your child can relate to, will be really helpful and may even be inspirational. It should show that despite the identification, anything is possible, dyslexia doesn’t define him or her.

Support Systems

It is also crucial to establish support systems, where necessary, for your child soon after a dyslexia identification. Talk to your child’s school and ask what they can do to help, also share with them any care plans you have, so they are fully aware of the support that is required. If you or your child would like extra help then there are always charities [such as Dyslexia Scotland] and support groups to turn to – which might be especially useful in the early days after an identification.

Further reading

If you’d like to read more about dyslexia, the Inclusion team at Twinkl have written multiple blog posts. covering a range of topics, around dyslexia. See below for a selection of these blogs.

Understanding Dyslexia and supporting your child

The first three steps to make a classroom more Dyslexia friendly

Oliver Lincoln, Marketing Coordinator, Twinkl Ltd

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If your child has just been identified as dyslexic and you’d like to chat further to one of Dyslexia Scotland’s friendly Helpline Advisors, please call our helpline on      0344 800 84 84  (Mon – Thursday 10:00am – 4:30pm; Fridays 10:00am – 4:00pm) or email helpline@dyslexiascotland.org.uk

We also have a wide range of helpful leaflets on our website: 

https://www.dyslexiascotland.org.uk/our-leaflets

Please note, Dyslexia Scotland is unable to endorse any particular dyslexia products.

 

 

Dyslexia Friendly Storytelling

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A couple of weeks ago, the BBC launched this year’s 500 Words competition. 500 Words is a writing competition for children between 5 and 13 years old. Each entrant submits one story of up to 500 words. The three winners in each age category win either their own height in books, the Duchess of Cornwall’s height in books (5’6”), or DJ Chris Evans’ height in books (6’2”).

Entries are judged on

  • originality
  • plot
  • characterisation
  • language

Crucially, entries are not judged on spelling, punctuation or grammar. In fact, the official rules say that entries are judged “without regard” for these potential stumbling blocks for young dyslexic writers.

Entries are also submitted by copying or typing into an online text box. A helpful adult is supposed to do this bit, and to fill out the rest of the online entry form for the child. That removes another potential barrier for children with dyslexia – dodgy handwriting.

Chris Evans started the competition in 2011 while he was a DJ at Radio 2. He had a vision of inspiring a love of reading and writing in all children, regardless of their abilities and challenges. The competition has been a huge success: 800,000 stories have been submitted in the eight years it has been running.

My nieces have provided some of those stories. One of my nieces, Susannah, is dyslexic, like me, and faces the typical struggles with handwriting and spelling. (Her typing skills are very good, though.) This competition gives her a chance to express her creativity without unnecessary barriers.

Many great writers were dyslexic, or are believed to have been. (Dyslexia wasn’t well understood when W B Yeats and F Scott Fitzgerald were around.) There are also successful dyslexic writers today. I’m an author and freelance writer who’s mildly dyslexic. I would love to see more children with dyslexia enjoying writing without feeling intimidated.

If you are between 5 and 13, or you know a budding author who is, here is the link to the 500 Words competition. Entries must be in by 7pm on Friday 8th of March.

Karen Murdarasi

Dyslexia doesn’t deserve to be devalued

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Having recently read via multiple sources (notably The Times Education Supplement and The Telegraph) that a couple of English councils view dyslexia assessments as ‘scientifically questionable’ and opt not to distinguish between those who are dyslexic and those who find it difficult to read, I was hugely disappointed.  Not least because it raises several problematic questions but it also poses difficulties for those who are affected by this policy. 

While some people may question why I would want to concern myself with a problem confined to a small number of English councils, particular ways of thinking – good and bad – are not limited to or by particular locations.  Although it might not be an issue facing the people of Scotland, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be talked about.  Don’t get me wrong, there are arguments both for and against assessments for dyslexia depending on whether an individual finds the “label” helpful, something I’ve written about previously.  But I think there’s a particular danger in calling a neurological difference questionable.  Although it does not appear to be readily apparent, could the logic that has been applied to arguments against the validity of dyslexia not be applied to other learning differences, neurological or otherwise?  If so, where is the line drawn?  And if not, why has dyslexia been singled out?  

This blog often discusses how dyslexia is much more than a difficulty with reading.  By amalgamating those who have dyslexia with those who find learning to read tricky, one would be potentially damaging the self-esteem of both groups of learners and undermining their struggles thus crushing their desire to learn and obstructing them from fulfilling their potential. By challenging the existence of dyslexia, those with this learning difference could also lose the ability to have something to attribute their need to learn differently, therefore reducing acceptance and legitimising needless stigma.  On a related note, children without access to assessments are being denied a potentially helpful identifier in that label.  The ‘label’ may help them to find others with dyslexia like Jamie Oliver and Holly Willoughby to whom they can aspire. Furthermore, by saying that dyslexia is ‘scientifically questionable’, it risks devaluing not only the needs of those learners, but also those who work to make sure those needs are met; namely, teachers, teaching assistants and additional support needs specialists.  

Ultimately though, what is being said about those who have dyslexia?  That their difficulties should cease to be acknowledged?  Why should educational provision and perhaps even access to specialist support, be dependent on which council a school is affiliated with and therefore become a postcode lottery?  All learners, irrespective of their learning differences, need support and positivity to thrive.  By denying the existence of dyslexia, some people are not being supported, and even more could be denied positive learning environments and experiences, which could only be to the detriment of the people concerned, those who care for and support them and society as a whole. 

Gemma Bryant

Volunteer Blogger

 

Getting to know your learning strategies – part II

 

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I’m currently studying towards a Masters in Psychology. Having grown up believing in the label ‘stupid’ due to my dyslexia, I have since developed a thirst, if not addiction, towards learning and gaining academic recognition.

I was never stupid, but I can see why it would appear that way to others. Dyslexia wasn’t well understood in the 90s when I did my formative years of schooling and my college degree. My lack of ability to memorise facts or understand things after a first read-through and my myriads of spelling mistakes that never seemed to improve, seemed to tell a story to teachers about stupidity and laziness. Of course, I was anything but lazy, and studied longer and harder than my peers, but to no avail, so I started believing I was stupid too.

In my previous post ‘getting to know your learning strategies – part I’, I talked about the various ways I have now learned that I retain information. I need the element of storytelling to be able to hook new information into existing points of references in my brain.

This year, I’m back learning statistics – a subject I nearly failed last time I was at university. But I’ve since learned so much more about dyslexia (off my own back and thanks to Dyslexia Scotland who have great hand-outs), and I now know how to attack a problem better.

It’s harder to remember specifics from a boring policy than it is remembering details from colours, to names, to events in a fiction book. I have so many story-based reference points in my brain, but none for policies, so I now know that I need to make policies into stories to hook them into my memory.

I love non-fiction books by John Ronson, Will Storr and Johan Hari, as they apply engaging journalistic skills to non-fiction topics and, thereby, engage learning and remembering. It’s also easier to say to a friend ‘guess what I’ve just learned…’ and share an interesting story from real life, than simply regurgitate facts. These journalists use examples that are so out there and weird that you can’t help but want to share them with others, and then by rehearsing the knowledge, by repeating it to others, it becomes easier to remember facts for yourself.

The thing that frustrates me, is that humans are story tellers. We have a unique ability to tell and relate to stories – for our survival – as it was a way of sharing facts of which berries were poisonous to eat, which areas were dangerous to venture into, and which areas were great for hunting. Simply giving these facts to children, for them to pass on to their children, to ensure survival was not a great idea, so by telling imaginative stories, these facts lived on from generation to generation.

So, knowing this, and knowing our ancestors used other ways of telling and remembering a story like art, why do modern-day schools insist on teaching children (and university students alike) via memorising facts, via fact-regurgitating exams, by strict essay formats, and often by one learning strategy for all? I’m not suggesting schools have the time or resources to tailor their teaching after someone with dyslexia, per say, but wouldn’t all students enjoy learning facts via storytelling? By being able to apply creative means, like drawing, while listening? By being allowed to write more creative essays? Teaching, geared towards dyslexia, could often enhance the learning experience for all pupils… in my opinion. What do you think?

Terese Kansted, 

Dyslexia Scotland blogger

Dyslexia and Recruitment: Square Pegs and a Round Circle

Way back in the 13th Century a selection of artists were asked to demonstrate their competence for a job as a painter for Pope Benedict XI. Each provided an elaborate, detailed sketch to prove their abilities. Except for Giotto, who simply drew a single perfect circle.

Guess what? He got the job.

Dyslexia and Job Applications

This might be the earliest example of successfully taking a creative, unconventional approach to applying for a job. Since then, employers have set all kinds of different tasks, and applicants have considered the best way to respond to make them stand out. The evolution of the CV and application form through history has had challenging consequences for dyslexic applicants, and these, combined with interview struggles, are the things people approaching Dyslexia Scotland’s Career Development Service ask for help with most.

The recent report The Value of Dyslexia by Ernst and Young says “Standardised hiring processes can inhibit dyslexic individuals. Job descriptions and application processes can … play against dyslexic abilities.” Last year, the WAC report Opening Doors to Employment also highlighted how traditional recruitment processes are “significant barriers” to dyslexic people. These findings are no surprise to Dyslexia Scotland, but what hope and inspiration is there for the dyslexic job seeker who feels applications forms are more of a square peg to their Giotto-like circle?
In response to the challenges of recruitment processes, employers signed up to the UK Government’s Disability Confident scheme at level 2 are committed to accept job applications in a variety of formats”.

The open-ness of this commitment spells hope for applicants who find the traditional application form isn’t their style, particularly those gifted with dyslexic-thinking strengths of creativity and problem solving, who take daring and dynamic approaches to a challenge. But how open are employers to receiving truly alternative formats of applications?

Alternative Applications

Some of my favourite examples of out-there approaches to applying for jobs have resulted in great success for the applicants because they’ve approached things so very differently. Cole Warner, a young person in America showed he had all the right tools for an Internship job at American DIY chain store Home Depot with this ‘out of the box’ CV.

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In his blog, employer Phillip Newman said “When I took apart the toolbox, I was reminded by how much more there is to people beyond what a [CV] tells of them. [CVs] are ripe for disruption. So are job descriptions.”

Some creative approaches to getting a job are born of frustration at following the beaten track. Adam Pacitti from England turned the tables on employers, calling on them to approach him with a job in a stand-out way.

Dyslexia and Recruitment

And others have a more playful take on things, like Andy Morris, a designer from Wales whose Lego figure application is helping build his career.

Dyslexic Thinking Skills

Whilst dyslexic applicants can have difficulty with traditional recruitment processes, they can also be among the most creative thinkers, and like the examples above, able to see a different way to stand out to employers. With so much promotion around a need for dyslexic thinking skills in the world of business, employers could do well to apply the same principle to the way they recruit.

How alternative an approach would you be prepared to take to apply for a job?   If you thought a creative approach might catch an employer’s attention, how would you go about applying? Do you think employers should be more open to truly alternative applications?

Think differently about approaching recruitment; you might stand out for all the right reasons.  Men in Black – The Test Scene.

Katie Carmichael, Career Coach