THROUGHOUT THE DAY
learning differences is a challenge that can be overcome only
by acknowledging your differences and finding ways to work
through them, around them, and with them. People ask me what
I do to compensate for my differences. I'm going to share
some of those things with you here. I want to caution you,
though, to understand that what works for me might not work
for you or your child. Please don't force your child to do
what I do. Talk to them, expose them to some of the things
that work for me, and facilitate their own search for tools
and techniques that work for them.
of us has unique challenges and unique gifts. As a child I
discovered an aptitude for electrical work. People praised
me and that gave me the strength and confidence to grow and
find other things I was good at. Few things are more important
than encouraging children with learning differences. Help
your child find what they are good at and help them get better
at it. Self-esteem is very important for children with learning
differences, and for all of us.
lot has been made of the fact that I get up at 3 am to do
mental exercises and prepare for my day. Growing children
need their sleep. Please don't wake them up in the wee hours
of the morning. It is my experience that many children will
find it helpful to spend 5 or 10 or minutes in the morning
doing some of these things to prepare for their day.
cards. I practice simple math on a software program almost
every morning. Reviewing simple math flash cards also works.
I practice elementary school addition, subtraction, multiplication,
and division. This helps me warm up my mind in the morning
and keeps my memory sharp.
I focus on the letters C and F on a computer screen for
a few minutes every morning. I rotate them sideways and
upside down and change the background or the size. I have
trouble focusing visually and paying attention even to important
things during the day and I find it helps to begin the day
with some concentration exercises.
words. There is a long list of simple words that I have
trouble with, largely because they are more difficult to
visualize than nouns and verbs. The list includes words
like was, were, can, could, that, and make, as well as many
others. Studying this list every morning gives me a leg
up as I head out to do business with people who don't have
such issues. You might want to start your own list of trigger
words as most people with learning differences have problems
with different words and letters.
THROUGHOUT THE DAY
breathing, and massage. I spend at least 15 minutes a day
in quiet meditative time. Sometimes I get a massage, sometimes
I listen to a motivational tape or classical music. Sometimes
I learn something from a tape or hear something that becomes
my thought for the day. A lot of the time, though, the primary
benefit of this is simply to give me a peaceful, quiet center
from which to draw strength throughout the day.
contact. It is very important for me to maintain eye contact
with people as I speak with them. If I lose eye contact,
I lose concentration. Often when meeting with someone, I
will ask him or her for eye contact. People I meet with
regularly know to maintain eye contact with me. When on
the phone, I usually look into a mirror to keep my attention
focused on the conversation.
confrontation. It is important to stay in control throughout
the day and avoid high-stress situations. When someone confronts
me, I try to turn the situation around by asking them what
outcome they want. Just asking that question in a pleasant
way often diffuses the anger that they brought into the
situation. I try not to attack people personally and to
remember that everyone is entitled to an opinion. I try
to always acknowledge their position and let them know that
I "got it".
a positive outlet for anger. People with learning differences
work very hard to do what many take for granted. The pressure
and the daily challenges frequently cause frustration. Learning
to manage anger is important. I've discovered that channeling
my anger into harmless physical expression is very helpful.
Among my favorite activities are:
walks, and walks where I talk to myself or someone else
on a treadmill
a time-out just to have some fun. Sometimes I put on
a red clown nose and look at myself in the mirror.
people practice martial arts or go to a batting cage
and whack baseballs.
can be difficult for people with learning differences. Fortunately
there are many tools on the market today that can make reading
easier. In addition to high-tech gadgets, I use some old-fashioned
tricks that are available to anyone.
have a device not much bigger than a pen that I can point
at a word on a page and it gives me the definition and the
reading devices, which are available at many bookstores,
allow you to download articles or entire books from the
Internet. When you click on a word, the definition appears.
reading a book, I always skip ahead to the last chapter
immediately after reading the first chapter. This gives
me the context I need to increase comprehension.
watching television, turn on the captions on the bottom
of the screen.
books on tape might not help people learn reading skills,
they can give you a love of books and learning and be an
important tool if they don't replace reading.
of the reasons that statistics are so often called "dry"
is that conventional charts, tables, and lists are easily
accessible only to linear readers. The majority of people,
though, learn better from images than from text and have to
puzzle and parse their way through most listings of statistics.
challenge is to incorporate more of the language of commercial
advertising and graphic design into the discourse of meetings,
training, memos, and discussion.
working for a bank in Greece some years ago, I was faced with
just that challenge. A financial crisis gripped the country
leading to a run on banks. I needed to let our customers know
we were solvent and in excellent financial condition. Rather
than simply tell people they had nothing to worry about, I
put stacks of cash by the teller window. People got the message
and there was never a run on our bank.
presentations and giving speeches is a big part of my job.
One of the hardest things I do is to get up in front of a
room and speak. Nonetheless, it is important and it can be
very rewarding. I've learned some tricks over the years that
make it a lot easier for me.
making a presentation, I usually:
at least one rehearsal, more if possible.
a TelePrompTer if one is available.
a coach in the audience who maintains eye contact with me
and gives me positive reinforcement by nodding their head
at key moments.
the text in a way that compensates for my impairment. To
see how I do that, click here.
to a private, quiet room before the presentation, so I can
focus myself, breathe, and relax.
someone else reading the speech and use that to help me
practice the presentation.
musical scales before speaking.
THESE ARE THE FORMATTING TIPS I USE
TO HELP ME READ SCRIPTS FOR MY SPEECHES AND PRESENTATIONS
is written in ALL CAPS, size 14 Font in Times Roman.
not use contractions. Completely spell out all words.
periods in acronyms. Example: use U.S. not US use V.I.P.
two returns between graphs that have a different train of
thought or concept.
two question marks in front of a question followed by a
space and one at the end.
Example: ?? Do you want to attend the conference?
the following words:
names. Each name should be followed with brackets in
italics that provide the phonetic pronunciation <<
words of the main thoughts. Use this very sparingly.
Less is best.
Only underline the specific word. Do not underline the spaces