November 25, 2019
Case study: How Mind Mapping has helped with my dyslexia
We know that Mind Mapping can play a powerfully positive role in the way dyslexic people organize and process information. But don’t just take our word for it. Take an inside look at how those with dyslexia can benefit from Mind Mapping, thanks to one of our users*, David Matkin. Read on for some first-hand experience of the power of visual thinking.
My name is David Matkin and I am the dyslexia tutor at Portland College. I have worked with dyslexic people of all ages for the last 7 years. As well as working with dyslexic people, I am, myself, dyslexic. It may seem like the blind leading the blind, however, it does give me an “inside view” of dyslexia.
Sometimes I can spend ages planning and not really getting anywhere. I use Mind Maps to plan out my day, week and month and it helps me visualize the things I’ve got to do. It’s much easier to see the jobs that I have coming up on my Mind Map than it is to see them in that pile of paper on my desk.
I have a map of “downtime” tasks and have links straight to the documents that I need for them. This saves me time so I can be more productive. I love links!
One of the things that dyslexics find difficult is organizational skills. I have set up several maps laying out what I need to get done for work in a week. I have a template that covers all the weekly jobs I have to do, plus space for one-offs and tasks that I need to spread over more than one week.
It’s great for me to be able to see what I am doing over the week with just one map.
One of the things I struggle with is creating official documents; things like reports and policies and procedures. When I had to write essays from my degree and PGCE, I really struggled with writing these extended documents.
Having a tool that can help break down large, detailed information makes it absolutely fantastic for writing formal documents like policies and procedures.
The ability to export to documents means I can do my planning visually on a Mind Map, add my notes and then just export it into a Microsoft Word document.
Our Top Tip: You can easily export a whole Mind Map, a group of branches or just one branch to a PDF image or text document in Ayoa.
Sometimes we find it hard to get our initial ideas on the page. With Mind Maps, I can put my first ideas down anywhere, see how my ideas grow and link, and then I can build a structure to my thoughts. We are typically disorganized and often think of end bits in the middle, the start at the end and the middle at the start. But Mind Maps remove this barrier to logically organized work by giving me the flexibility that I need. I can flit from one part of a map to another easily and quickly and if I make a mistake I can simply move the branch to a different part of the map. What could be easier?
Another thing that I sometimes find hard is to get started with a blank piece of paper or computer screen. Mind Maps help me get past that barrier. Mind Maps encourage you to begin with a central idea for your thoughts to stem out from. This really helps to get past that blank page! It gives a tingle of achievement and within minutes, your screen can be filling up nicely. This has worked really well for some of my students with Asperger syndrome as well, who also find the blank page hard to overcome. Mind Maps make starting from scratch a pleasure rather than a chore!
Our Top Tip: When you create a new Mind Map in Ayoa, the first step you will be prompted to complete is to create a Central Idea for your map, before you can move onto the next step – making getting you started that much easier.
Mind Mapping as a tool for Dyslexics
Whilst Mind Maps won’t solve the underlying difficulties that dyslexics have, they are a very useful tool and give us an excellent boost in the right direction. Once the key ideas and thoughts are on paper and the content is ready, the dyslexic can concentrate on the ‘writing’ as a separate task. They can then use other ‘tools’ to help them finish their work, whether that is with the use of dictation software (like Dragon Naturally Speaking), an amanuensis (scribe), a digital voice recorder or tools like Text Help Read and Write Gold. This means they don’t need to think about the content and the actual writing process at the same time, leaving them free to concentrate on all the other ‘stuff’ they find hard (spelling, sentence structure, etc).
The key benefits of Mind Mapping (from a dyslexic point of view):
- Few words used or needed.
- Can (and should) use pictures and color.
- Encourages creativity (often a strength in dyslexics).
- Helps develop thinking skills.
- Focuses on learning.
- Flexibility in organizing and presenting work to demonstrate knowledge and understanding.
- Allows people with very little written language to show their understanding.
- Encourages self-confidence by demonstrating knowledge and understanding in an accessible way.
- Allows students to ‘shine’ through their strengths and not being limited by their weaknesses.
- Great for displays too (this can help the teacher and other students).
I would encourage anyone who works with dyslexics to consider using Mind Maps, whether in the classroom, at home or at work. Get them to try it and see for themselves how useful they can be. I did and I have not regretted it!
Mind Mapping in Ayoa is designed to work with your brain while boosting your productivity and expanding your creativity. Discover more about how Mind Mapping in Ayoa can help those with dyslexia to organize and explore their ideas.
*This case study was provided for iMindMap, our software which has now become Ayoa. Ayoa incorporates the best features from iMindMap, along with its dyslexia-friendly interface, and combines these with effective task management capabilities that can be accessed from the web.