[Dyslexia] Power of Different (14/52)

Not quite the Dyslexia Superpower (3/52) but getting closer … In fact, Dr Gail Saltz makes a compelling case for linking ‘disorder’ (including dyslexia) with ‘genius’ in her recent book – “The Power of Different” (2017).

In a recent TV interview, Dr Saltz talks about the need to highlight the positive as well as the negative aspects of learning “disorders”.

The first chapter (pages 17 to 46) focuses specifically on dyslexia and, through examples drawn from “brilliantly” successful dyslexics, highlights four categories which together with “grit and resilience” could account for this “Power”. Firstly, experiencing significant trauma in school. Secondly, developing “work-arounds”. Thirdly, creativity and insight linking to brain differences and finally, “tremendous” drive and determination.

Looking at each in more detail, we can begin to see how dyslexia can indeed be an advantage or superpower. However, the challenge of recognising the positive aspects of dyslexia appears to start in school and probably continues into college and university.

  1. Living with learning differences: Many dyslexics, myself included, can recall the trauma of school. Dr Beryl Benacerraf (renowned Radiologist at Harvard Medical School) compensated for her dyslexia, “she would count the number of students in front of her and find the paragraph she would be asked to read, and then practice that paragraph over and over until it was her turn” – sounds familiar! Prof Carol Greider (Nobel Prize winning Microbiologist) “had a lot of trouble in school and was put into remedial classes. I thought that I was stupid.”
  2. Developing work-arounds: To overcome these challenges dyslexics use their learning difference to create work-arounds. Reading can not only take longer it consumes more mental processing power, these work-arounds are vital to progressing. These can include the simple technique of avoiding problematic words (doubt), more sophisticated learning tools and, of course, big picture thinking!
  3. Seeing dyslexia as a gift: If we assume that human evolution accentuates the positive, eliminates the negative, dyslexia could be an important feature of the survival of the human species. What has been, and continues to be, the role of big picture thinking that is characterised by seeing patterns, objects and shapes? The challenges of focusing on the written word, might actually be the advantage of not focusing on one thing in the centre of our vision but rather registering multiple incidents in our peripheral vision. Prof John Stein puts it rather well …
  4. Flourishing as a dyslexic: So, having experienced the trauma of school, developed the work-arounds and having a host of life enhancing gifts, dyslexics can flourish in later life. But, what about taking a totally different approach to schooling? An approach which recognises the value of creativity and big picture thinking as well as spelling and grammar. I’m back to my emerging hobby-horse – Developing Your Superpower Institute (DYS Institute)!

And finally, Dr Gail Saltz (2017: 37) highlights that whilst dyslexics have many differences, they seem to have a propensity to develop empathy. Perhaps born from the very knocks life has delivered to them.

Nigel Lockett – The Dyslexic Professor
University dyslexia support

A Dyslexia Reflection (13/52 or 25%)

A week’s holiday and a break from blogging was a chance to reflect on the ‘quarter way’ point in my plan to post a weekly blog, 52 in 2017, on being an academic with dyslexia or to be more precise – The Dyslexic Professor.

Looking back on the last three months of blogs, three equally weighted themes have emerged (it’s almost like I planned it this way!). Firstly, the dyslexic learning difference (12/52; 10/52; 5/52; 2/52). Secondly, how this learning difference gives rise to the dyslexic superpower (11/52; 8/52; 6/52; 3/52). And finally, overcoming the challenge of dyslexia by recognising the learning difference in order to build the superpower (9/52; 7/52; 4/52; 1/52).

  1. Dyslexic Learning Difference:
  1. Dyslexic Superpower:
  1. Dyslexia Challenge:

Interestingly, my initial article on LinkedIn, “The Dyslexic Professor“, received 3,783 views with the subsequent 10 blogs clocking up 1,477 views in total.

But perhaps more importantly for me, this opportunity to reflect has highlighted the cathartic value of blogging and the overwhelming support and encouragement I have received.  In both cases, this was contrary to my expectations.

I have actually enjoyed sharing my experiences (releasing the pent-up frustrations and wounds of five decades of learning) and the unexpected support and encouragement has kept me going. So, what next?

Firstly, having recognised the difference, I want to learn more about my learning. Hence the willingness to continue to reflect through blogging, self teaching (the purchase of “Grammar Rules: Writing with Military Precision”) and supported learning. To help with the latter, I have enrolled on a MOOC in Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching (coincidently by Lancaster University). It’s not really for dyslexics but for gaining practical tools and theoretical insights to help dyslexic students learn second languages. Anyway, it starts on the 24th April and I’m going to have ago!

Secondly, I’m looking for help. More specifically, a few guest bloggers willing to share their experience as a dyslexic or working with dyslexics. I’ve approached a couple of friends but please volunteer or just put the word out …

Thirdly, I need a goal. Not that I am at all competitive [!] but having something to aim for might just spur me on. I’ve just found out there is a Dyslexia Awareness Week (2nd to 8th October 2017) and even a World Dyslexia Awareness Day on Thursday 5th October 2017!

I’m thinking about how best to mark 5th October 2017. Perhaps I could accelerate my blogging and hit the target of 52 blogs 3 months early. Hmm, perhaps I’m going to need more help than I thought!

Nigel Lockett – The Dyslexic Professor
University dyslexia support

Reads, spells and guesses: The Dyslexic “Eats, shoots and leaves”? (12/52)

Before addressing the title of this blog, I wanted to update last week’s blog on “Stimulating Big Picture Thinking”, setting out the approach to designing and delivering the workshop to stimulate entrepreneurial thinking in environmental doctoral students. So, after all the hype, what was the students’ feedback?

Based on a simple Likert-type scale: 1 excellent, 2 average, 3 poor, the facilitators (myself and two colleagues) received a flawless score and only dropped one point for “How satisfied are you with the outcomes of the programme?” (Meaning: increased confidence, bringing together science and entrepreneurship and meeting like-minded people) – that’s a relief!

Qualitative feedback included: “Excellent! It has really got me thinking about the skills I have and how I could use these in my career going forwards.” “Interesting, challenging and fun.” “A tiring, but stimulating few days, that was led by some really helpful and enthusiastic individuals.” “Overall it was an enjoyable course, really varied and applied to a variety of challenges. Made it easier to see how scientific knowledge could be applied to a business …” “It was worthwhile and enlightening.” “Enjoyable, inclusive, and well delivered.” “Intense and stressful, but highly rewarding. Don’t change any of the organisers, they each brought something different to the challenges they set.”

Now back to the “Reads, spells and guesses: The Dyslexic ‘Eats, shoots and leaves’”.

I was recently asked about the practicalities of learning grammar as a dyslexic and was immediately struck by my lack of grammatical knowledge. At school, I was so far behind my reading age (I remember when I was tested for dyslexia aged 19, my reading age was in single digits – an assessment I have conveniently buried for 35 years!), I couldn’t possibly engage in learning grammar. Compulsory French classes until I was 14 years old, served only to compound my grammatical confusion. As an adult learner, I have even had Spanish lessons, in both the UK and Spain, with limited success – plenty of scope for a future blog there!

On reflection, I realised I needed to go back to grammar school (no, not Grammar School!) to start all over again. A timely meeting with one of my children (an English Teacher at a Secondary School in London), resulted in a trip to a big Waterstones and the purchase of “Grammar Rules: Writing with Military Precision” by Craig Shrives. We had so many books, in the ‘English Language’ and ‘Learning English’ sections, to choose from but decided on Shrives (2011) because it was accessible, at least to me, and it had a sense of humour whilst still taking the subject very seriously. Craig also maintains a very helpful web site – www.grammar-monster.com. You will no doubt have spotted the extensive use of: apostrophes, brackets, colons, commas, dashes, hyphens, semicolons and speech marks; or to be more precise – Section 1!

Given more self-study time, I think I will be able to learn grammar rules as a dyslexic academic. At the very least this new competence might be useful for my blogs.

Next week could see the first guest blog – from a fellow dyslexic academic. Perhaps this will be more than appropriate, given I will be a quarter of the way towards achieving my goal of posting 52 blogs this year. I continue to be pleasantly surprised by contact from dyslexics in academia, which have resulted from my decision to disclose my dyslexia. Should I consider establishing a invitation-only LinkedIn group or inviting guest blogs from dyslexic academics?

Nigel Lockett – The Dyslexic Professor
University dyslexia support

Stimulating Big Picture Thinking (11/52)

Can you really teach big picture thinking? As a dyslexic academic, I use my big picture thinking (or ‘dyslexia superpower’) every day. Throughout my lecturing career I have tried to develop pedagogical techniques that can support my students’ learning by stimulating their big picture thinking. In the context of my discipline, entrepreneurship, I understandably call this ‘entrepreneurial thinking’ but it’s really the same thing – seeing patterns in complexity. In fact, my department (Department of Entrepreneurship, Strategy and Innovation) has developed quite a reputation for doing just this at undergraduate, postgraduate and executive levels. So, perhaps it’s not surprising I was asked to develop and deliver a workshop to stimulate entrepreneurial thinking in environmental doctoral students –hosted in a NERC-funded Doctoral Training Centre called ENVISION.

Myself and two colleagues (Dr Joanne Larty and Dr Ricardo Zozimo) set about doing just this and last week delivered a 3-day ‘Stimulating Entrepreneurial Thinking in Scientists’ (SETS) workshop at Lancaster University.

Before revealing what happened, I will explain what we designed and why. Our learning objective was to provide an opportunity for environmental doctoral students to learn by doing or experiencing entrepreneurial thinking in practice. Day One: was all about suspending their disbelief and giving them permission to be creative (idea generation), select good ideas (opportunity recognition), understand what might be needed to deliver (exploitation) and explain this to others using business models. In mixed groups, they gradually became more confident and all teams pitched their best idea to each other – we filmed these.

 Day Two: started by watching the previous days wining pitch and discussing why it won, then the focus moved to responding to four business challenges (energy, food, waste and water), using problem trees and finished with teams pitching their solutions to a panel of experts. Interestingly, the groups were deliberately different from Day One and centred around the students’ own research expertise – we even provided printed coloured (organic – of course!) t-shirts: RED energy, GREEN food, BLACK waste and BLUE water.

And finally, Day Three: again, started by watching the previous days winning pitch and discussing why it won, then shifted to addressing a global challenge (around water in West Africa) in interdisciplinary teams pulling together expertise from each of the teams formed in Day Two. Each team also included a member with direct experience of West Africa. The task was simply to submitted a two-page ‘expression of interest’ by 2pm and attend an interview with an expert panel. The winner was an impressive team focusing on sustainable rice production linked to water management and entrepreneurial community building using advances in drought resistant rice species and optimum fertiliser usage.

Academic readers will already have recognised the link to the Global Challenges Research Fund call – £1.5 billion fund announced by the UK Government to support cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries through: challenge-led disciplinary and interdisciplinary research; strengthening capacity for research and innovation within both the UK and developing countries; providing an agile response to emergencies where there is an urgent research need.

This 2-minute video (played just before the panel interviews) captures the energetic team working and fun of the three days!

Stimulating Entrepreneurial Thinking in Scientists Video

It was fascinating to work with future scientists and see the power of structured big picture learning through role play, team working and responding to staged challenges. Developing the ability to articulate the value or impact of environmental sciences to terms of addressing global challenges has never been more important.

The full video of Stimulating Entrepreneurial Thinking in Scientists programme

Nigel Lockett – The Dyslexic Professor
University dyslexia support

Support for Dyslexic University Students (10/52)

In terms of the undergraduate recruitment cycle, we are now in between 2017 entry (UCAS closed on 15th January for most courses) and 2018 entry with open day season starting from June. At least for now, the focus will be on making offers and converting offer holders into first choice or ‘Firm acceptance’ applicants.

But what about students with Dyslexia? It is bewildering enough choosing a university, a course and city – and getting those all important grades if you don’t have an unconditional offer!

However, it could be time well invested if you are concerned about support for dyslexic students. Just to see what support was on offer, I typed, in Google, “[University name] support for dyslexic students”. I have produced a table of results, hyperlinking to the most appropriate page and used # to indicate universities with a specialist dyslexia page and ** with multiple dyslexia pages. Below I have listed the more impressive offers:

  1. University of the Arts London
  2. Bangor University
  3. University of Hull
  4. Liverpool Hope University
  5. London School of Economics and Political Science
  6. London South Bank University
  7. Loughborough University
  8. University of Leicester
  9. Nottingham Trent University
  10. University of Newcastle
  11. University of Nottingham
  12. Oxford Brookes University
  13. University of Southampton
  14. University of St Andrews
  15. University of Strathclyde
  16. University of the West of England
  17. University of York

The one I like best is the University of the Arts London – including sections on: What to Expect, Advice Before Applying, Funding; Assistive Technology. However, it does use the expression “Disability & Dyslexia”, personal stories are limited and the contact email is generic with no staff profiles.

For me, the best website should address me personally, as a student with dyslexia and how their support could help me engage fully in my studies and, of course, enhance my Dyslexia superpower! I want to read about successful current students – better still watch a video – to inspire me to give the university my ‘Firm Acceptance’!

  • Cardiff University students video:

Nigel Lockett – The Dyslexic Professor
University dyslexia support

PS See Dyslexia Action and Which? have a useful webpage by the British Dyslexia Association

 

 

 

My Dyslexia Valentine (9/52)

Of course, I couldn’t let the 14th February pass without reflecting on my “love hate” relationship with my dyslexia. Well, I say, “love hate” but what I increasingly feel is a love relationship with my Dyslexia Valentine!

Many will know the footprints in the sand poem in which the traveller experiences hardship and on looking back sees particularly hard periods in their life when there is only one pair of footprints in the sand; turns to their ‘companion’ and says, “Why did you abandon me during my most difficult times?”; The gentle reply comes, “Those were the times I carried you”!

And so it is with my dyslexia. I can now look back and freely acknowledge that what I first saw as a disability, I became aware of as a difference and now increasingly see as an advantage (or superpower!).

Working in the higher education sector in the UK is particularly challenging at the moment with academic and professional staff being expected to deliver simultaneously across multiple areas: engagement, research and teaching. My Valentine’s week serves as a good example of this diversity:

Monday: Early start with a morning of back-to-back meetings spanning engagement, research and teaching. No lunch break as straight into leading a four-hour entrepreneurship workshop with our excellent MBA students until 6pm. Late home.

Tuesday: Off-site strategy session considering our response to the Apprenticeship Levy. This has the potential to transform undergraduate and postgraduate education in the UK. I’m particularly interested in Level 7 (masters) provision for middle managers and entrepreneurs. We have a lot to offer but packaging this will be a challenge. Late afternoon an internal mock panel interview for a major research bid we have been shortlisted for interview. Very exciting but a big challenge. By the end of the day, my head is full of opportunities and threats!

Wednesday: Another full day away from the university. This time with Lancashire Leaders: firstly at a small panel event which will provide the material for a magazine feature and than the annual dinner and networking event – including a chance to talk with a key stakeholder. A long day and evening. Home at midnight. Only Wednesday and I’m probably well passed the European Working Time Directive already!

Thursday: At the university early for a full day of back-to-back meetings spanning engagement, research and teaching. End the day with my head spinning with opportunities and threats.

Friday: TGIF! A full day without any meetings. Just my laptop and ClaroRead to help me to plough through the rather full inbox. Why does every email seem to require a considered reply? By the end of the day, there are still emails to answer but I’ve peaked and agreed with myself that Sunday afternoon looks clear for this.

Saturday: Happy Days

Sunday: Morning starts with the train to London to meet colleagues in the evening to prepare for Monday’s “major research bid” panel interview. More to follow on this but only if we are successful! Used train journey down to reply to emails but not until I had upgraded, at my own expense, to 1st class to get a table, wifi and some quiet.

My working week ends mid-evening and I can’t be bothered to add up all the hours! Looking back, I can see the ‘footprints in the sand’ where my dyslexia has carried me through the challenges of my working week.

Yes, my Dyslexia Valentine is definitely a superpower for me!

Nigel Lockett – The Dyslexic Professor
University dyslexia support

Developing Your [Dyslexic] Superpower Institute (8/52)

Since my ‘Vacancy: Dyslexics need only apply‘ blog, I was feeling rather frustrated. Why?

It’s all very well me suggesting that employers should recruit staff who have dyslexic superpowers and can show ‘evidence of overcoming the challenges of dyslexia‘, but that’s only half the solution. Surely the key to success is developing programmes that support the learning differences experienced by dyslexics and to enable the further development of big picture thinking. In the context of the higher education sector, let’s look at each in turn.

  • Supporting: Universities recognise that some of their students could have learning difficulties, often called Students with Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs). Indeed, many have invested time and resources in supporting these students. Typically, through their Disability Service – just follow the links from my list of university support for dyslexic students to see how dyslexia is positioned as a disability and dysfunction. So, step one to enlightenment must be to focus on dyslexia as a learning difference and reposition support as continue professional development (CPD) for the enhancement of existing abilities. Remember, the goal is to develop superpowers in academic and professional staff!
  • Enabling: Having repositioned support as CPD and, hopefully, engaged with dyslexic academic and professional staff [I will deal with this challenge in a future blog], it’s time to think about developing the superpower of big picture thinking. I’m sure that once dyslexics have switched from thinking about their dyslexia as a disability to a difference, they will already becoming aware of there enhanced abilities to see patterns, objects and shapes and ready to rethink there own educational and work experiences. The challenge of this repositioning shouldn’t be underestimated. Remember, many dyslexics will have felt labelled and excluded by an educational system that rewards fine detail thinking.

Perhaps we [the higher education sector] need to establish a Developing Your Superpower Institute (DYS Institute), which delivers this outcome. Of course, it would quickly become known as the disinstitute –  which, at least for me, has a certain comic irony!

Dyslexic Advantage, formed in 2012 after the publication of Brock and Fernette Eide’s The Dyslexic Advantage book, is the nearest organisation I can find to the idea of the DYS Institute.

Of course, Dyslexia Advantage is focused on all dyslexics not juts those in the higher education sector. Time for some big picture thinking …

Nigel Lockett – The Dyslexic Professor
University dyslexia support

Dyslexic War of Words (7/52)

Relax, I don’t mean the Boris Brexit Bus or the Trump inauguration ‘alternative facts’ war of words. I mean the internal dialogue dyslexics hear – the challenge of all those words to process. Of course, I have chosen a profession [academia] which is actually located in a temple of words [university]!

To give you some idea of what this means in practice, I thought the last couple of weeks might give you a sense of my personal dyslexia challenge. Here goes:

    • In 2009, I was fortunate to be invited by Dr Richard Blundel, at the Open University, to co-author an exciting new textbook ‘Exploring Entrepreneurship‘. Published in 2011, it was well received by peers and adopted for many entrepreneurship modules. Of course, I would say this, it is a thoughtful contribution to the subject – a book of two integrated halves (practice and perspectives) with some innovative pedagogical features such as critical incident teaching cases and leading researcher profiles. My contribution was mainly the practice first half. It literally took 6 months of weekends to complete. Don’t ever ask my family about the book!  The last couple of weeks have been dominated by finishing the copy for the second edition due to be launched by Sage Publications at the ISBE conference in Belfast this November. The second edition will include a third author – Professor Catherine Wang at Brunel University and video cases of entrepreneurs who describe a real business challenge and then reveal what actually happened. My copy was submitted for typesetting last week.
    • Since 2014, I have been leading a collaborative three country investigation involving universities in Spain, Sweden and the UK, which is exploring the role of universities in supporting entrepreneurial students and graduates. The first publication has just been accepted by the Industry and Higher Education journal. Proofing the article, ‘Lost in space’: The role of social networking in university-based entrepreneurial learning, was completed on Monday.
    • After three intensive years, a very able PhD student submitted their final thesis for Viva Examintion entitled, The perceptions of the relationship with venture capitalists by managers of university spin-out firms in the life science industry in the UK and Germany.
    • Last Monday saw the publication of the HM Government Building our Industrial Strategy Green Paper. This could represent a significant opportunity for universities to help address the productivity dilemma, which has seen UK productivity remain stagnant after the financial crisis in direct contrast to previous recessions and other developed economies. As Associate Dean for Engagement, I needed to read, digest, debate and respond with appropriate recommendations.

Of course, the above is added to the usual wordy [written] duties of responding to emails, reading documents, preparing presentations, moderating assignments and back-to-back meetings.

I am certainly not complaining as this is how you get things done in a modern university. However, it might give you an insight to my personal challenge of the war of words or at times what feels more like a wall of words!

Luckily for me, I don’t have to face this alone. As I explained in the Dyslexia Drag Race, the single most useful dyslexia software tool for me is ClaroRead for Mac. I simply could not handle this huge volume of words without it.

I do appreciate that a non-dyslexic academic might point out that this is simply normal and begs the question, Why is this such a challenge?

The simplest reply is … time!

It just takes me more mental time and energy to process words. Imagine if at aged sixteen you knew what the word doubt meant and could use it readily in conversation. However, if asked to spell the word doubt, either to recite it or write it, you could not ‘see’ or imagine the word beyond the d. Now concentrating hard, you get to d…ow, then dow…t. But life isn’t that easy for a dyslexic – you aren’t certain of your ability and have your own doubts! Dow look’s like bow, is this bow to an audience or bow and arrow?  In addition, as soon as you realise the environment is hostile, your reply is expected instantly, other people are watching … How could an increasingly doubting dyslexic get anywhere near ou or even bt?

Of course, doubt is just one word!

Some words are just simply more difficult for dyslexics than others. No doubt, each of us will have our own set of desperately difficult words. Difficult words are challenging in two ways. Firstly, hearing and spelling and secondly, reading and pronunciation. Two sides of the same coin.

Nigel Lockett – The Dyslexic Professor
University dyslexia support

 

Vacancy: Dyslexics need only apply (6/52)

Of course, I’m not suggesting there are jobs that only dyslexics can do. But, just imagine if employers valued the enhanced abilities that dyslexia can provide – or the ‘dyslexia superpowers‘ (See 3/5).

I have applied for a few senior positions in my time and have been faced with completing the anonymous ‘Equal Opportunities Form’. Each time, I think, “Do I have a disability?“, “Should I declare it?“, “What would be the consequences?“, “Is it really confidential?” …

It’s hard to pick up a newspaper [or read your favourite title on the proprietary app] and not read about the latest big challenge faced by a big organisation. See below a few examples from this week’s press coverage:

Clearly, these are big complex problems with multiple stakeholders and both political and financial implications. Oh, and probably full of big data.

So, if you run one of these organisations, Who you gonna call?

No, not Ghostbusters!

But, perhaps a group of people with specially honed big picture thinking [yes, you know where I’m going!] (See 5/52). But, you recruit your top talent from top graduates from top universities; who have in turn recruited top students with top A-levels; most likely achieved by students with an enhanced ability for fine detail thinking. Really you need both big picture thinking and fine detail thinking to crack these really big problems.

Perhaps this is at the heart of the matter. We have designed an educational system that rewards fine detail thinking and labels the very people with enhanced big picture thinking as dysfunctional.

As a society, we often look to government and politicians for solutions. But, how many successful applicants to Fast Stream or MPs are dyslexic?

Why not take matters into your own hands?

Who will be the first large organisation to include, ‘Evidence of overcoming the challenges of dyslexia‘ under desirable selection criteria?

Nigel Lockett – The Dyslexic Professor
University dyslexia support

The Dyslexic Brain: Words, words, everywhere (5/52)

I can’t stop smiling as I start this blog on the Dyslexic Brain. I will return to this important subject in a moment – I’m smiling because I have just remembered a former business bank manager [Brian] saying, in all earnest, ‘Nigel, I do appreciate getting your monthly financial updates but please would you stop writing to me as, Dear Brain!’

Words, words, everywhere but not a sentence to read! [Apologies to Samuel Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner – ‘Water, water everywhere, Nor any drop to drink’!]. I merely use it to highlight the challenge that dyslexics face in our word-rich world. Of course, this blog is just a drop in the ocean in the sea of research on dyslexia.

Recent research on how the brain’s cortex, more especially the structure of minicolumns (dense versus loose) and axons (short versus long), impacts on connections, suggests that dyslexia is not a dysfunction but a difference. Of course, I rather like this idea and recognise this might just be because it supports my worldview, expressed in my first blog (0/52), that dyslexia is a learning difference. In this blog, I am drawing mainly on The Dyslexic Advantage (book) by Eide and Eide, 2012 and Dyslexia and the Brain (video) by Eden, 2016.

So, why would cortex structure (short-dense and long-loose) effect connections and why is this relevant to dyslexia?

One of the key differences (or in Eide and Eide’s words advantages or in my words superpowers) for dyslexics is the ability to see patterns or the wood for the trees or the big picture (Watch 7:30 Eden video). This big picture thinking is function of a cortex structure – more precisely long axons and loose minicolumns  (long-loose) which slows down processing. The opposite is short axons and dense minicolumns and  (short-dense) which speeds up processing and supports fine detail thinking. This produces a fascinating spectrum from slow (big picture thinking) to fast (fine detail thinking), which maps onto dyslexia (big picture thinking) and autism (fine detail thinking).

Importantly, learning to read (a function of phonological processing and procedural processing in the left brain) is enhanced by fine detail thinking. This might also go some way to explain the challenge words cause dyslexics.

The implications for dyslexics are firstly, dyslexia is a difference not a dysfunction and secondly, as I know from my own experience, adult dyslexics can improve their word processing power [I will come back to how in a future blog but in the meantime watch 7:58 Eden video] to a mostly adequate level without losing their big picture thinking!

Nigel Lockett – The Dyslexic Professor
University dyslexia support