How can we best serve neurodivergent students, their families and schools?

p81 kids on pebblessmallWhat would it be like if every primary school had a Neurodivergent School Coach (NSC), who championed appropriate teaching and learning for neurodivergent students?

With the current growth of learning differences/difficulties, the existing solution of assessment and teaching neurodivergent students as if they are neurotypical is unsustainable.  This proposal is to teach students new skills, that match their learning preferences thus reducing the cost of SEN assessment and long-term support.

Why: Teachers are experts in teaching, Neurodivergent School Coaches are experts in how neurodivergent children learn and how they can best access lessons. Our understanding of neurodiversity is gathering pace and it is impossible for teachers to keep up, whilst dealing with the pressures of a school day. This is particularly true for primary schools, where missing appropriate techniques at a young age has a lifelong effect on every individual. This role would be in addition to the Senco role, that is largely focused on implementing government processes, procedures and dealing with a mountain of reactive tasks.

How: We are envisioning that each school would have the benefits of a part-time NSC who is a coach with expertise in how these students learn. Their role will be to teach children, parents and teachers the same skills for continuity in and out of school. They will run specific projects in the school to address the highest need, for example:

  • Identify and explore students’ strengths and enable staff to teach to these strengths
  • Ensure that even very young children are taught skills to improve concentration and left/right brain coordination (including good breathing, sleeping and grounding) and maximise their use of visual learning whilst releasing anxiety and stress to minimise the propensity of learning differences creating mental health problems.
  • Teach to their strengths using mental imagery for literacy, numeracy and so much more.
  • Assist teachers and parents to  take a curious view of behavioural challenges
  • Learn from students and develop child-centred support for children in their reality, through the “right” questions.
  • Teach brain-based skills to students to, for example, reduce anxiety, increase confidence and develop a growth mindset.
  • Call out students getting things right. “A student who is appreciated will always do more than expected”.

Who: The NSC will have a real thirst for continually learning and implementing new skills, that fit every child, with an open mind, remembering that every child may think and learn differently.  As school budgets are currently stretched past breaking-point, we are looking for creative ways to fund this role, that in the long term will save so much money, anxiety, poor behaviour etc.

Objectives:

Making neurodiversity teaching and learning a priority will achieve the following:

  • Students understanding how they best think and learn and the factors that affect them
  • Students understanding how they can reduce their own anxiety
  • Reduced SEN costs
  • Better educated children
  • >95% reading and maths success in SATs by the completion of year 6
  • Minimum levels of anxiety by the completion of year 6
  • A legacy in school for future years, that is self-generating amongst students.

For a preview of this very different approach, take a look at this video about teaching literacy to dyslexic students.

We are looking for positive feedback to this proposal and mechanisms for moving it forward in 2020.

Olive Hickmott is an author, trainer and coach with a worldwide network of professionals with their own skills in addition to those gained through her Empowering Learning programmes.  Recently she sent out 100 free copies of her recent book “The Elephants in the Classroom” to primary schools throughout the country, funded by a birthday fundraiser.  You can still contribute at www.empoweringlearning.co.uk by clicking the link on the left-hand side of the page, as we move into fundraising for the NSCs.

You are encouraged to mail Olive at olive@empoweringlearning.co.uk with your contributions to this project.

#neurodivergent #behaviour #anxiety #empoweruinglearning #neurotypical #schoolcoach #SEN

 

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Where SEN meets mental health challenges

MH1Recently I was asked to talk to some Hertfordshire teachers and Sencos about this topic, that was very well received. I summarised the content it in just 30 minutes in my on-line monthly webinar for Dyslexia, ADHD and neurodivergent questions.

The topics covered were:

  1. How SEN can develop into mental health challenges.
  2. The role of mental imagery in learning
  3. Some of the mysteries, contradictions and strengths of neurodiversity
  4. The connections with mental health
  5. The simple skills you and your child can learn.

Here is the link, for the recording:  https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/3595103259003792391

To do a bit of pre-reading take a look at my recent book,  The Elephants in the Classroom.

This webinar is completely FREE but if you want to contribute to our fundraiser to supply complimentary copies of the Elephants in the Classroom to every primary school, in the UK, there is a link in the left-hand column of www.tiahl.org.

When I published The Elephants in the Classroom, there was always going to be room for more elephants to pop up.  It seems that mouth breathing so stresses your body, it is behind much of the anxiety and need for grounding mentioned in  “The Elephants in the Classroom: uncovering every student’s natural power of mental imagery to enhance learning“. To find out more, order your own copy here, or more than 10 copies here or on  Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

#mentalhealth #theelephantsintheclassroom #ADHD #Dyslexia #hertfordshire

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Discover the Elephants in your Classroom

Elephants in the Classroom mockup 6Below is an Author Interview for my recent book that you will find interesting: Published in ANLP’s Rapport Magazine recently.

Lack of knowledge about how students learn visually contributes to many learning difficulties for neurodivergent thinkers.

You may have heard of the NLP Spelling Strategy. A premise of NLP is to try new ideas and if they don’t work, to explore why and develop them further. Empowering Learning expanded the use of mental imagery in the spelling strategy to apply to everyone struggling with literacy, including all those dyslexics who thought that they would never be able to spell or read.

Since then Olive Hickmott has made further discoveries to explain how mental imagery contributes to other neurodivergent ways of thinking and learning such as those seen in Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dyspraxia, ADHD, Asperger’s, sensory overload and autism.  She has recently published  The Elephants in the Classroom that talks directly to parents and teachers, providing a much-needed new perspective on the explosion of learning difficulties in our classrooms. You will learn simple skills to empower you and to make many aspects of learning more accessible, based on the student’s strengths.

Assessors, coaches, tutors, teachers, parents and Sencos/INCOs are all doing a great job in what is often the most trying of circumstances. There are increasing numbers of children diagnosed with special educational needs, more on the waiting list, with parents clamouring for assistance and at the same time reducing resources in all school activities.

But there is an Elephant in the Classroom, that everyone knows about but few people talk about –  not ‘connecting the dots’. This particular elephant could save you a lot of special needs budget and enable children with poor literacy, poor numeracy, poor concentration or sensory overload, to miraculously change when you understand more about their experience. These are the problems that hold students back from achieving what they want and may lead to them developing fear, anxiety and even mental health issues alongside extreme behaviour.

To their credit, schools are generally committed to multi-sensory teaching and learning but don’t explicitly know how students employ the critical skills of mental imagery – this is visual learning. Lack of knowledge about how students learn visually contributes to many learning difficulties for those neurodivergent thinkers and learners. Those unfortunate enough to struggle with these challenges are some of our most talented students, with tremendous unrecognised potential – a paradox that is the essence of this book. Mental imagery is a topic that is a natural skill for everyone. Without mental imagery we wouldn’t recognise our parents, find our way home or recognise our belongings, for example; life would be very complicated.

As you see in the diagram below, another couple of elephants run alongside mental imagery in our classroom:

  • Understanding and celebrating the strengths of neurodivergent thinkers and how they can be flipped to assist with challenges.
  • Feeling safe and grounded in your environment and comfortable in your own skin. Without these, mental imagery will not work effectively.

 

Once your mental images are under control, rather than controlling you, the whole world of learning opens up another dimension. Since publication, Olive has also explored how our breathing patterns can interfere with feeling safe and grounded – yet another elephant in the classroom.

Empowering LearningTM, focuses on the skills someone wants to learn, not the labels they have attached. This approach offers a functional breakdown, tailored to the individual, which avoids some of the downsides of focusing on generic labels. To best help struggling students, this book helps you to identify the specific symptom or function they find difficult, find the root cause and work from there – defined as Functional Learning. In the same way, medics are exploring functional medicine and neurologists are exploring functional neurology.

The Elephants in the Classroom joins the dots between gifts, mental imagery and behaviours, anxiety, sensory overload and trauma. Then it explains how to control your mental imagery to be an invaluable skill for all sorts of academic work.

Hundreds of thousands of children are growing up, plagued by poor literacy, poor numeracy, the inability to concentrate, sensory overload, lack of focus and other problems that hold them back. The Elephants in the Classroom explains how these students, often with gifted with exceptional creative skills, can learn to control their mental images to make learning so much easier. Visual learning skills can be explored by parents at any age and readily taught, especially in primary school. Slightly adjusting how we educate children will allow them to maximise their learning experience. Although mental imagery is a natural skill for everyone, its contribution to learning is often overlooked.

If you want to feel comfortable with the elephants in your classroom, do read The Elephants in the Classroom, available from Amazon and www.empoweringlearning.co.uk where we also have a special offer for bulk purchases.  Also, you can join www.olivehickmott.co.uk where her blog gives any further updates. We are attempting to provide every primary school in the UK a FREE copy to assist them in teaching neurodivergent students. You can contribute to our no profit fundraiser (through TIAHL.org) at http://www.empoweringlearning.co.uk.

 

Here is the original article as published in ANLP’s Rapport Magazine.

Author 64 Elephants Olive Hickmott 44

 

And from Professor Jonathan Glazzard, this review on Amazon

1 October 2019
This is an excellent book. It includes lots of practical advice for teachers and the content on mental imagery and neuroscience is really thought-provoking. Hickmott writes clearly and the book is accessible. The case studies illuminate the key points and bring the book to life. I will certainly use this book with my student teachers.

 

When I published The Elephants in the Classroom, there was always going to be room for more elephants to pop up.  It seems that mouth breathing so stresses your body, it is behind much of the anxiety and need for grounding mentioned in  “The Elephants in the Classroom: uncovering every student’s natural power of mental imagery to enhance learning“. To find out more, order your own copy here, or more than 10 copies here or on  Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

 

 

 

 

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Fighting Fit Conference in Leeds 9th-10th Nov

I am speaking at this conference on 10th November, I should be pleased to hear from you.

Fighting Fit is a not-for-profit programme for people who have come to
terms with their Parkinson’s diagnosis and who want to:
• Get specific information and signposting.
• Try exercise as medication.
• Make new connections and friendships.
• Develop a personal life plan.

Here are the details: Fighting Fit – Flyer Summer 2019 2 Up (4)

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How a child simply improved literacy

CreativitysmallThis is just part of the advocacy report for a child recently, in just one coaching session.

XXX is an exceptional visualiser with a very creative brain.

It is always a special day when I have the privilege to work with someone as visually talented as Xxx, with excellent mental images available to him. It is clear that Xxx is a visual thinker and that is the primary way he learns, by creating his own pictures (visual learning), not necessarily using any he is shown (visual teaching).  Students like Xxx have extraordinary mental images available to them and are big-picture thinkers – they need to see where the information they are learning fits into the big picture.  In his case, these skills have translated into artistic skills he can share with others, which is lovely.  On YYY, I helped him to recognise his own visual skills and to hone them to be in the best location for him.  One of the first things I noticed was that when he thinks in pictures he gets a lot of information and it is generally moving, that is very distracting and stopped him staying grounded.

As far as Xxx’s literacy skills are concerned, he hadn’t realised that he could use his visual skills for spelling and reading as well as imagery.  Xxx very quickly picked up the skills to visualise words first with nouns and then with non-nouns.  In the early days, he may need reminding to look up slightly to the left and “see” words and stay grounded so the letters don’t move around. If he gets stressed and letters move on the page he simply needs to breathe, reground and he knows how to do this with his feet on the ground. Like many students he has an advanced visual skill to move pictures/objects around in his minds’ eye; moving letters around, out of conscious awareness,  to try and make them fit simply doesn’t work. I have also taught him how to picture homophones by using a little sketch, to recall which is which.

His reading is good and will improve as he learns how to recognise more words.  Initially keeping the book/work propped up will help him read more fluently and reduce anxiety.  His mum will be practising with him building up his vocabulary of longer and longer nouns to start with and then non-nouns, not rushing ahead to too longer words too soon that will only increase his anxiety as he develops this new skill.   He is also learning to copy down from the board without looking at the paper to increase his speed and reliably to collect all the information.  He will quickly develop the skills to keep the lines straight and make it really neat.

His concentration is largely effected by getting too much information to answer a question, say “which is your favourite car?”  He has hundreds of pictures of cars coming into his visual field and then being discarded.  He managed to move them onto a wall planner but they were still an endless stream.  It is really important that he stays grounded to develop control of his mental images, rather than them controlling him.  Uncontrolled mental images in school cause all sorts of problems like taking a lot of time to answer a question (busy searching through possibilities), distraction and swaying around on your chair (staying ungrounded as you are overwhelmed by information). This has all been discovered by enquiring as to what is behind various behaviours.  Grounding and organising mental images to make sure they slow down and are not too near his face is helping here and needs more practice.

Once he has mastered literacy we will move onto learning to use mental imagery for other topics such as maths, getting his ideas onto paper, remembering what he has read, foreign languages, comprehension, sequencing, etc.

 

When I published The Elephants in the Classroom, there was always going to be room for more elephants to pop up.  It seems that mouth breathing so stresses your body, it is behind much of the anxiety and is needed for grounding the skills mentioned in  “The Elephants in the Classroom: uncovering every student’s natural power of mental imagery to enhance learning“. To find out more, order your own copy here, or more than 10 copies here or on  Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

#visualteaching #visuallearning #theelephantsintheclassrooom #neurodiversity #nosebreathing #breathing #mentalimages #nouns #nonnouns

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ADHD Awareness: Where can I start?

freddy smallHere are some skills for teachers and parents of ADHD students. Let us help you to help them.

October is ADHD Awareness month; we are running 3 FREE webinars to help parents, teachers, doctors and educational professionals:

ADHD Awareness, where to start? Exploring ADHD from the student’s, parents and teachers points of view. What is behind the behaviors, what does a head full of mental imagery and sensory overload feel like? The overlap between mental health and learning differences. What can we all learn from our children 15th October 8pm

The skills and nightmares of ADHD for children and adults. How can something be a skill as an adult and a nightmare as a child? Can you spot your child’s exceptional skills developing? 23rd October 8pm

ADHD Awareness and good breathing. What is good breathing, why do you need it, what is poor breathing and what does it do to your body and cognitive skills? I am shocked that parents of children with ADHD have never been told about how important nose/diaphragmatic breathing is. This is changing my life.Tues 29th October 8pm

Do join us, get some questions answered and learn some new skills.

To do a bit of pre-reading take a look at my recent book,  The Elephants in the Classroom. When I published The Elephants in the Classroom, there was always going to be room for more elephants to pop up.  It seems that mouth breathing so stresses your body, it is behind much of the anxiety and need for grounding mentioned in  “The Elephants in the Classroom: uncovering every student’s natural power of mental imagery to enhance learning” “Neurodiversity through the lens of mental imagery”. To find out more, order your own copy here, listen to the introductory mini-videos here or more than 10 copies here or on  Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

#adhd #adhdawareness #neurodiversity #goodbreathing #diaphragmaticbraething #ADHDskills #mentalimagery #theelephantsintheclassroom #neurodivergent

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Easy literacy for dyslexics

Dyslexia Awareness week 7th-11th October.

Do your bright creative neurodivergent children struggle with literacy? Find out how literacy can be made much easier even for dyslexics. On Wed 9th Oct, 9:00am or 7:30pm. Come along and join our free webinar: Easy ways to teach dyslexic students literacy.

Do pass this on to your friends, literacy is one of the topics that is easy to solve for neurodivergent students once you understand their visual experience. Neurodivergent students have enough challenges they don’t need to struggle with literacy too.

They are very often highly visual learners and for them, auditory phonic learning does not suit their skill set, in English. Start teaching them visually and the difference will be exceptional.

To do a bit of pre-reading take a look at my recent book,  The Elephants in the Classroom. When I published The Elephants in the Classroom, there was always going to be room for more elephants to pop up.  It seems that mouth breathing so stresses your body, it is behind much of the anxiety and need for grounding mentioned in  “The Elephants in the Classroom: uncovering every student’s natural power of mental imagery to enhance learning“. To find out more, order your own copy here, or more than 10 copies here or on  Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

#dyslexiaaeareness #DAW #literacy

 

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