In our latest customer case study, George, who has autism and dyslexia, discusses how and why he uses Ayoa to manage his daily life, from running a non-profit to organising his house move and planning his hiking adventures.
He says: “I am a postgraduate research student, having previously taught English, Science and Computer Science in the UK and Japan. Despite having outwardly succeeded in my education and career, I have throughout my life, struggled with the effects of both Autism and Dyslexia; so I am doubly neurodivergent!
Many aspects of autism and dyslexia present personal challenges and opportunities since they both can provide a very different way of seeing the world. Sometimes I feel like a square peg in a round hole, but the world does need all kinds of mind!
In my spare time I co-run two small non-profits for fellow autistic adults: one focusing on solving the issue of social isolation that many people on the spectrum experience, here in Bristol, UK and the other focused on finding free or cheap assistive technologies.
Many people “think in pictures” but I have come to realise that I am a somewhat extreme form of this cognitive style. To paraphrase Einstein (who was also most probably autistic) is that “If I can’t picture it, I can’t understand it”. To organise, sequence and order my tasks, schedule and prioritise, I need to visualise everything!
With Ayoa on my iPhone, iPad or MacBook – I am a few taps or clicks away from having the whole picture of all aspects of a project or indeed my whole life. Something that would probably take a lot of scrolling or clicking with alternative app styles.
One of the features of having either autism or dyslexia is often a weak short term memory, which can affect something known as “Executive Function” – the ability to organise, thoughts or actions. By having everything there in one glance, Ayoa has allowed me to reduce this area of stress in my life.
The majority of organisation tools on the market are list or database style. While my autistic brain loves databases for organising discrete data, for personal organisation, this produces too much of a cognitive overload. Categorising real life is hard, because most things are not discreet, so Ayoa’s loose structure – the bubbles, with images – allows me to see everything that needs doing in one glance without having to make the difficult decision of “where something goes” – as I would with a traditional list type app.
While there are many excellent mind mapping tools on the market and indeed many task management tools with mind map integrations of one sort or another, Ayoa is unique in that the end result is visually appealing. Both mind maps and task boards are nice enough to want to hold in my minds eye – long enough to remember what I should be doing!
I have a very vivid imagination and see connections between all sorts of things, both a gift and a curse from my autism. I use the mind map feature to tame the “wild horses” of ideas and plans; these can then be honed into a realistic structure with the task tools – this particular set up allows a forward flow, which works naturally with my cognitive style.
I have been a keen mind-mapper since I was very young – a fan of Tony Buzan’s books from my early secondary education and use mind mapping wherever I can. So the ability to turn a mind map into a structured project plan is a great way to use both hemispheres of the brain; creativity and logic, together.
Recently I have used Ayoa for moving home, writing a grant proposal and planning a series of long hikes with my autistic social group (fitness is important!).
Why is Ayoa different from other tools I’ve used? Firstly, the pace of development is phenomenal. Updates are arriving fast and furious, so I have great hope this will evolve into an application I can stay with. While many features are still nascent, its greatest attribute is the simplicity of use. Neither the basic or advanced features require a PhD in engineering to figure out, which many competitor apps do seem to need! I have found it easy to share a project with a non-techie friend, with a minimal learning curve for them.”
Ayoa is a neuroinclusive tool that is approved by the British Dyslexia Association as well as Student Finance England (for the Disabled Students’ Allowance). Read more about Ayoa and Neurodiversity, or discover more Ayoa customer case studies.
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