Join us Friday at 11am UK Time for another Neurodiversity Stories

Neurodiversity Stories with Darren Clarke

No alternative text description for this image

Delighted to announce the next guest 🙌

Olive Hickmott

Title: Are we all born dyslexic?

Olive had many Dyslexic and ADHD traits all her life. She will tell the story of how she changed her own experiences and taught 1000s of others through a network of trained practitioners, across the world. After 20 years in the world of neurodiversity, where she advocates for the strengths of these exceptional people, she has become one of the world leaders in understanding the connections between mental imagery and a whole range of neurodivergent diagnoses.

Come and join us to hear Olive’s incredible story.

A massive thank you to our NEW sponsor for Neurodiversity Stories 📚

Claro Software

Claro Software develops Assistive Technology, software for people with disabilities such as print and reading difficulties like dyslexia, to help them achieve all they can.

For more information please check out their website: www.clarosoftware.com

Thank you Claro Software for your support.

Please click on the link to register and to be notified when we go live

https://lnkd.in/dEUedeV

#Neurodiversitystories#Neurodiversity#Dyslexia#adhd #empoweringlearning

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Webinar on Wed 27.4.21 at the Bell House

Before Covid I was talking about the importance of sleep-breathing-calm for Neurodivergent students. Now the focus is on emotional wellbeing for everyone, these skills are even more valuable. I am running a webinar for The Bell House on Wednesday, just book here: https://bit.ly/2QWaUew

“I wish I had known more when my child was little……”………I could have saved so much pain for her and me.

Lovely Image seen on social media – thank you

Parents often say comments like this and this picture sums it up, for me. It isn’t until they get older that it becomes easier to see what is happening. Talking to your child, you realise more about your child’s experiences, but repair for years of upset is much more difficult in later life. But you can’t start again, so this is where my experience is invaluable.


I am a Forensic health and learning coach, author and trainer who is always searching for reasons behind the behaviour. In the last 20 years, I have come up with several “whys” that are key to understanding our exceptionally creative neurodivergent students. They are, in brief:

  1. Are you grounded, fully in your body? Gravity should be one of the first senses you experience after being born. But do you feel comfortable being grounded?
  2. What do you know about sleep? Newborn sleeping is often challenging but so vital to our development. Key aspects of both quality and quantity of sleep are freely available to the curious and is a lifelong skill.
  3. Breathing. Gentle nasal breathing reduces anxiety and oxygenates every cell in our body. Lack of brain oxygenation is a common ADHD symptom that generates hyperactivity. How are you and your child breathing?
  4. Mental Imagery. These are the pictures we hold in our head that are key to all learning. Those with Dyslexia/poor literacy have not developed mental images of words, essential for a language like English/American. Those with ADHD/ASD have most often uncontrolled mental imagery that is overwhelming; those with ASD would rather sit in a corner and shut out the world. There are simple skills for controlling mental imagery.
  5. Safety. Anxiety is overwhelming for these children and I always ask myself whether the anxiety caused the problems or whether the challenges caused the anxiety. Either way anxiety contributes to a significant lack of feeling safe. Negative emotions can jangle their energy and make them feel very uncomfortable. Add in sensitive people picking up other peoples’ energy and you have a perfect storm of sensory overload that results in meltdowns. I have learned a whole toolkit to help children and adults improve this.
  6. Strengths. These children have remarkable, typically highly visual, strengths but, in my experience, parents and teachers are often overwhelmed by the challenges and overlook their strengths. Learning from the experiences of older children and initially be inspired by Temple Grandin’s book, Thinking in Pictures, has enabled me to piece together this complicated jigsaw puzzle and give parents the skills to master these challenges for themselves. Items 1-5 above will allow these highly talented children to be happier, making excellent use of their visual strengths.

There is more details here in my YouTube video: https://youtu.be/njNx5v8vp4E

My name is Olive Hickmott; I would be pleased to support you in any way I can.
You are welcome to contact me olive@empoweringlearning.co.uk
Please register here to follow my blog at http://www.olivehickmott.co.uk
You will find other useful information at http://www.empoweringlearning.co.uk
My latest books are:
The Elephants in the Classroom: using every student’s natural power of mental Imagery to enhance learning: Neurodiversity through the lens of mental Imagery.
Bridges to Success – How to transform Learning Difficulties

#templegrandin #theelephantsintheclassroom #dyslexia #grounded #sleep #breathing #mentalimagery #safety #anxiety #strengths #energy #ADHD #ASD

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We are all born Dyslexic!!

There is only one problem common to all Dyslexics: They have not learned how to visualise letters and words, an essential skill for fluent reading and spelling in the English language.

When we are born, we have no letters or words in our Word Form Area (WFA), or as Dehaene [see footnote] calls it, “The brain’s letterbox”. We have to learn how to populate our WFA with letters without any direct instruction in school. It is, in my opinion, a miracle that about 50% of the population manage to start populating their WFA without any direct education. The other 50% have an underdeveloped use of their WFA, resulting in poor literacy or full-blown Dyslexia, often with letters spinning around/changing places.

The children most affected by not developing their WFA are highly creative, imaginative, and often have a high IQ. They have excellent visual skills for mental imagery but have not learned how to use imagery for any other type of learning, such as spelling, reading, maths, comprehension, etc. Consequently, they typically develop lack of self-esteem, feel stupid, look to be lazy, become angry at their own performance, and a myriad of other behavioral problems. These, in turn, cause anxiety, being ungrounded, mouth breathing and sleep deprivation:

  • When students are ungrounded, you may see them clumsy, uncoordinated and distracted by sounds that others do not hear, . They may even close down their peripheral vision to avoid overload.
  • When students are mouth breathing, they will lack oxygenation in every cell of their body. Lack of brain oxygenation results in hyperactivity, lack of muscle oxygenation results in poor muscle tone.
  • Sleep deprivation will cause many behavioural issues.

These same children have many talents, pick any from the following list; ability to see things from different perspectives sometimes at the same time, seeing the bigger picture, problem solving, drive and energy for things that interest them, picture thinking, creativity, imagination, ideas generation and exceptional memory.

The question is how to simply and easily populate a child’s Word Form Area. It is really helpful that right next to your WFA is your Occipital Lobe that holds all your visual images, so the sequence goes:

  • First it is essential to made friends with your mental images to carry out lots of visual activities, such as memory, mental maths, problem-solving, etc. Check the qualities of these images and make sure you are in control of where they are, whether they are still or moving etc.
  • Then put words on the images, not below or above, and these word images can now be used for spelling and reading. The process has a few simple steps to learn and works for any words, in any language, including those tricky words or homophones that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings. This maximises the students’ natural visual learning strengths.
  • Using any technique for literacy such as phonics or look and say may accidently populate the Word Form Area for many children but adding this explicit teaching of Empowering Learning will accelerate everyone’s progress, not only those who find phonics simple.

All the other dyslexic symptoms come from this simple problem of not learning how to use your WFA, how to control your mental imagery and the rules and counter rules of the English language, where teaching ONLY phonics is just not suitable.

My name is Olive Hickmott; I would be pleased to support you in any way I can.
You are welcome to contact me olive@empoweringlearning.co.uk
Please register here to follow my blog at http://www.olivehickmott.co.uk
You will find other useful information at http://www.empoweringlearning.co.uk
For more information see my latest book:
The Elephants in the Classroom: using every student’s natural power of mental Imagery to enhance learning: Neurodiversity through the lens of mental Imagery
You will find more examples in Bridges to Success – How to transform Learning Difficulties

#theelephantsintheclassroom #empoweringlearning #borndyslexic #wordformarea #occipitallobe #Dehaene

Footnote: Adjacent to the occipital lobe is the Word Form Area, or as Stanislas Dehaene prefers to call it “The Brain’s Letterbox.” The Word Form Area plays a significant role for someone who is successful at literacy, connecting the occipital lobe to the areas for pronunciation, articulation and meaning, creating people who are fluent readers and capable spellers. “Whenever subjects looked at written words, the region dedicated to vision, situated at the back of the head, was activated. Another small region of the left hemisphere, right at the border between the occipital and temporal lobes, also showed up – that he termed ‘The Brain’s Letterbox.’” This research has often been replicated.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Neurodiversity Celebration Week Continued: Exceptional Interpersonal Skills

EPIC students can create verbal communications with a rich and interesting advanced vocabulary; many have developed these skills to compensate for their lack of ability with written communication. They can have tremendous powers to connect with other people and when talking will very often be getting their triggers from mental images.

Most EPIC students may have a great sense of humour; many love to laugh and may have a knack for making others laugh, too; hopefully, people are laughing with them, not at them.

Many EPIC students demonstrate strong opinions/feelings, with clarity and obvious authenticity. They exhibit a compulsion to be authentic, exhibit ethical values and express their true selves which others may find difficult to hear. See quote from Greta Thunberg about Asperger’s[i]; however, they are fond of telling you exactly how it is.  They see things as they really are and have a strong instinct to question and dismiss information that conflicts with their instincts. Searching out the rationale behind an instruction, helps them verify that it has an authentic purpose, or they will work to change it.

Many EPIC students bond strongly with plants and animals, enjoying the peaceful nature, as long as their anxiety is not triggered.

[1] Greta Thunberg , the 16 year-old climate activist demonstrates this perfectly “Asperger’s is what makes me different, and being different is a gift.  I don’t easily fall for lies, I can see through things”

My name is Olive Hickmott; I would be pleased to support you in any way I can.
You are welcome to contact me olive@empoweringlearning.co.uk
Please register here to follow my blog at http://www.olivehickmott.co.uk
You will find other useful information at http://www.empoweringlearning.co.uk
This is an extract from my latest book:
The Elephants in the Classroom: using every student’s natural power of mental Imagery to enhance learning: Neurodiversity through the lens of mental Imagery You will find more examples in
Bridges to Success – How to transform Learning Difficulties

#theelephantsintheclassroom #empoweringlearning #verbalcommunications #neurodiversity #neurodiversitycelebrationweek #aspergers #gretathunberg

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Neurodiversity Celebration Week Continued: Visual-Spatial Thinking and Learning

EPIC students think and learn in still pictures and/or moving videos, often possessing an extraordinary ability to recall visual memories from movies, video games or actual events.  This technique is invaluable for rapid recall and particularly useful when working in the media. They need to develop the skill to switch between still and moving images, depending on how they are using the images. Attention to visual details is invaluable in all forms of media continuity.

Some EPIC students may have the ability to turn 2D images into 3D images, e.g. they can read maps, charts and graphs easily. When looking at an Ordnance Survey map, which is flat, some people can readily turn the 2D contour lines into 3D images of mountains and hills in their mind’s eye.

As an example, you can read in Bridges to Success about David on page 25, who was a dyslexic trainee mountain guide.

My name is Olive Hickmott; I would be pleased to support you in any way I can.
You are welcome to contact me olive@empoweringlearning.co.uk
Please register here to follow my blog at http://www.olivehickmott.co.uk
You will find other useful information at http://www.empoweringlearning.co.uk
This is an extract from my latest book:
The Elephants in the Classroom: using every student’s natural power of mental Imagery to enhance learning: Neurodiversity through the lens of mental Imagery You will find more examples in
Bridges to Success – How to transform Learning Difficulties

#theelephantsintheclassroom #empoweringlearning #visual-spatial #neurodiversity #neurodiversitycelebrationweek

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Neurodiversity Celebration Week Continued: Seeing the Bigger Picture

EPIC students ask “big questions,” “life’s larger questions,” which are often challenging questions. They are curious about how things work. To aid their memory, EPIC students seem to need to have an understanding of the bigger picture, which is often accompanied by an insatiable appetite to understand the underlying reasons for every situation. They see the whole elephant in the cartoon, not just the individual parts.

They also believe that the application of creative thought best tackles problems. Rigid, ritualistic systems are considered just boring, archaic and outdated; EPIC insights fuel “system busting.” 

I was working with a boy in GCSE year who loved history. I asked him what he had learnt in the last year and what made it essential.  I was astonished at his understanding of the importance of history; his ability to see the bigger picture and grasp how it related to all aspects of life today with a deep understanding and an ability to explain and translate the concepts.

My name is Olive Hickmott; I would be pleased to support you in any way I can.
You are welcome to contact me olive@empoweringlearning.co.uk
Please register here to follow my blog at http://www.olivehickmott.co.uk
You will find other useful information at http://www.empoweringlearning.co.uk
This is an extract from my latest book:
The Elephants in the Classroom: using every student’s natural power of mental Imagery to enhance learning: Neurodiversity through the lens of mental Imagery You will find more examples in
Bridges to Success – How to transform Learning Difficulties

#theelephantsintheclassroom #empoweringlearning #biggerpicture #neurodiversity #neurodiversitycelebrationweek

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Neurodiversity Celebration Week Continued: Hyperfocus, Drive and Energy

Hyperfocus enables EPIC students to exhibit a single-minded concentration on what they consider to be an interesting task or subject. Given an exciting project to work on, they are entirely absorbed, there is no stopping them! Hyperfocus can be a valuable skill in, say, the IT industry, when they are older.

EPIC students can concentrate on small details and any changes in detail.  Focusing on minutiae, usually visual, can enable EPIC students to switch off peripheral vision, and block out everything else to avoid sensory overload. This is a lifesaver for those on the ASD spectrum, and a great skill for anyone working in a noisy environment.

Of course, for topics they are less interested in, EPIC students may struggle to be motivated to carry out a task they consider boring. One way around this may be to focus on the bigger question of WHY such activity is essential.

Focusing on something they really want to do provides EPIC students with more energy and commitment to the topic.

My name is Olive Hickmott; I would be pleased to support you in any way I can.
You are welcome to contact me olive@empoweringlearning.co.uk
Please register here to follow my blog at http://www.olivehickmott.co.uk
You will find other useful information at http://www.empoweringlearning.co.uk
This is an extract from my latest book:
The Elephants in the Classroom: using every student’s natural power of mental Imagery to enhance learning: Neurodiversity through the lens of mental Imagery You will find more examples in
Bridges to Success – How to transform Learning Difficulties

#theelephantsintheclassroom #empoweringlearning #hyperfocus #drive #energy #neurodiversity #neurodiversitycelebrationweek

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Neurodiversity Celebration Week Continued: Taking Different Perspectives

They can not only imagine what physical objects look like from different perspectives, including cross-sections, they can slice and dice buildings in their mind’s eye to, for example, check internal layout, connections for utilities services, and load-bearing walls. I created the word “Perspectius”, to mean genius-level ability to see different perspectives simultaneously, as it seemed an apt description for many EPIC students. 

They can also picture, without any difficulty, the other side of a business opportunity or argument that others may not see. A great skill for an adult, in for example government, but it can be infuriating for families, when a child always, “takes the underdog’s view.”

EPIC is used in The Elephants in the Classroom, to describe our students who are exceptionally perceptive, imaginative and creative. All of our students are EPIC with neurodivergent thinking and learning stills.

My name is Olive Hickmott; I would be pleased to support you in any way I can.
You are welcome to contact me olive@empoweringlearning.co.uk
Please register here to follow my blog at http://www.olivehickmott.co.uk
You will find other useful information at http://www.empoweringlearning.co.uk
This is an extract from my latest book:
The Elephants in the Classroom: using every student’s natural power of mental Imagery to enhance learning: Neurodiversity through the lens of mental Imagery You will find more examples in
Bridges to Success – How to transform Learning Difficulties

#theelephantsintheclassroom #empoweringlearning #perspectius #differentperspectives #neurodiversitycelebration

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Neurodiversity Celebration Week Continued: Instagram[i] for the brain

Some EPIC students have the ability to create stories from a mass of information and draw that story in cartoon form for everyone to appreciate. The translation between auditory and visual representations is invaluable for remembering any story.  But this is a much more advanced skill to be able to draw together the story in real time, as someone is speaking, and present it physically on a wallchart, perhaps at a conference – the output is referred to as sketch notes. Caroline Chapple who produced many of the cartoons in this book is an expert in this area.

There has been much research into the science of drawing and memory and “there are several ways that teachers can incorporate drawing to enrich learning. Importantly, the benefits of drawing were not dependent on the students’ level of artistic talent, suggesting that this strategy may work for all students, not just those who are able to draw well[ii].”

[i] A metaphor: Instagram is a photo and video-sharing social networking service owned by Facebook, Inc.

[ii] Youki Terada,published in Edutopia, George Lucas Educational Foundation, The Science of Drawing and Memory.

My name is Olive Hickmott; I would be pleased to support you in any way I can.
You are welcome to contact me olive@empoweringlearning.co.uk
Please register here to follow my blog at http://www.olivehickmott.co.uk
You will find other useful information at http://www.empoweringlearning.co.uk
This is an extract from my latest book:
The Elephants in the Classroom: using every student’s natural power of mental Imagery to enhance learning: Neurodiversity through the lens of mental Imagery You will find more examples in
Bridges to Success – How to transform Learning Difficulties

#theelephantsintheclassroom #empoweringlearning #instagram #instagramforthebrain #carolinechapple

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Neurodiversity Celebration Week: Problem Solving


Many EPIC students thrive on solving various problems and puzzles. As you might expect, they enjoy jigsaws, chess and strategy games.  They can find creative ways around most things, even their learning challenges. They create original ideas often devising really wacky ideas, thinking differently, unconventionally or seeing things from a new perspective; which can be summed up as “thinking outside of the box” or maybe even “failing to find the box.”

Once they commit to solving an interesting problem, they can’t drop it until they have found a solution – the “right” solution in their eyes. They may sometimes have to reluctantly compromise their perfectionist streaks, in the interests of completion. Insightful problem solving, can enable you to come up with a startlingly new idea, demonstrating “system-busting” skills.

In Chapter 2 of the Elephants in the Classroom – My Corporate Career Section, you may recall my skill for solving complex problems in the medical diagnosis system.  This skill is common to many IT professionals. I also find the whole area of neurodiversity something that needs better understanding – this is impossible for me to give up on.

My name is Olive Hickmott; I would be pleased to support you in any way I can.
You are welcome to contact me olive@empoweringlearning.co.uk
Please register here to follow my blog at http://www.olivehickmott.co.uk
You will find other useful information at http://www.empoweringlearning.co.uk
This is an extract from my latest book:
The Elephants in the Classroom: using every student’s natural power of mental Imagery to enhance learning: Neurodiversity through the lens of mental Imagery You will find more examples in
Bridges to Success – How to transform Learning Difficulties

#theelephantsintheclassroom #empoweringlearning #newperspective #problemsolving

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment