Introduction to Teenage Dyslexia
John sleeps through his alarm and his mum has to wake him up. He wakes up tired and can often feel quite emotional in the mornings. His room is more messy than a typical teenager’s bedroom and his morning’s are always rushed. He’s just in time for the school bus and everything feels like he manages it ‘just in time.’
John’s bag is huge and heavy because he can’t remember what he needs to take for each day so he just carries everything around in case he needs it.
John gets to school just in time and his day starts with English. He likes the discussions in English but there’s a lot of copying the board to be done which he finds really hard and so it takes him forever. He doesn’t finish in time and so he’ll need to come back at lunchtime to finish. John really needs a ‘C’ in English but he’s worried he might not get that.
Physics is next and he loves the puzzles but the formulas are really hard to remember. His teacher tells him to take notes from the textbook but he’s not sure what is important so he copies everything out just to be sure. He starts to daydream about deeper things like the meaning of life and the substance of gravity.
P.E. is next and John has forgotten some of his kit again. His teacher is really annoyed with him for forgetting.
Lunchtime comes round and John’s friends head off to the shops while he catches up on his English and studies for his History test. Once he’s done he tries to text his friends so that he can meet them but choosing the right words and what to say takes forever so he gives up.
After lunch John has history and today the class has a test. John loves the stories in history and imagining what life used to be like but its a real challenge to remember specific names and dates for essays and tests. He doesn’t finish on time and his teacher says he can come back one lunchtime to finish off but John doesn’t have any lunchtimes left so it has to be marked as it is.
In geography, John loves brainstorming and exploring lots of ideas but he just can’t always figure out how they all fit together.
Art is the last lesson of the day and it is John’s oasis in school life. He loves drawing and creating and his teacher seems to really understand him.
After school it’s football club and John loves it here. He’s really skilled at football and seems to be able to adapt to how others are playing and score lots of goals. It’s one of the few places where he is celebrated and people congratulate him.
He finally heads home and makes a start on his homework. John has an essay to do and he tries really hard to start with an outline in the way his teacher told him to but he can’t quite figure it out so he just writes all his thoughts down at once into his essay and hopes that will do.
Dinner time is a family affair and John loves talking with his family. He’s a great conversationalist and they often laugh together at the words he makes up or mispronounces.
After dinner, John has to ask again for help with his English essay. His mum takes a look and helps to re-organise what he’s trying to say so it makes more sense and he starts to write it all out again.
It’s 9.30pm and John is finally finished for the day. He’s physically and emotionally exhausted and needs to unwind. He plays video games and watches Netflix but this means he’s burning the candle at both ends.
He knows that tomorrow it starts all over again and he’s stressed because he feels he’s slowly slipping behind everyone else.
teenage dyslexia + mindmapping
I’m telling you this story as an introduction to teenage dyslexia because John’s story is actually my story of being a child. It’s also my story as the parent of a dyslexic child.
As well as an introduction to teenage dyslexia this is also an introduction to mindmapping. I discovered mindmapping when I was 21 as a way to overcome the fear of exams and it changed the way I learned.
Looking back, if there was one bit of advice I could give my teenage self it would be to learn how to mindmap at 13 and not wait until I was 21.
My hope for John and other dyslexic teenagers is that they learn how to study in a way that works for them. I hope they can use mindmapping to organise their thoughts, take notes from the board and from textbooks and to outline essays in a systematic way and remember the facts they needs for tests and exams.
If you would like to find out more about how the mindmapping skills I’ve described in this introduction to teenage dyslexia could help you and your family we have a free online video workshop which runs every week. Discover the joy of a visual way of note-taking that matches the way you think.
We’d like to thank Understood.org for the initial inspiration for this blog post.
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