February 16, 2022
How mind mapping can help with dyslexia
It is estimated that up to 1 in every 10 people in the UK have some degree of dyslexia. Dyslexia is a lifelong, neurological difference which can have a significant impact during education, in the workplace and in everyday life. Everyone’s experience is unique and symptoms can range from mild to severe. Dyslexia can present a variety of challenges on a daily basis; with it affecting so many people, having the right tools to help support their thinking can have a truly positive impact on their everyday lives.
People with dyslexia often show strengths in creative thinking, and visual learning can help to support this. For many years, people who have dyslexia have found mind mapping to be a simple and highly effective way to help improve the way they learn, view and organize information. Dyslexia can affect a large range of actions, including spelling, processing information, concentration and organizational skills. With the right tools, the strengths and talents of those with dyslexia can really shine.
Read on to discover how mind mapping can be a useful and effective tool for those with dyslexia to process and organize information.
The power of visual learning
As a hidden difference and something that affects people in such different ways, the effects of dyslexia are often misunderstood. Visual learning strategies prove to be highly effective for dyslexic thinkers. Imagery, in particular, conveys a message without the need for elongated words, helping to retain memory and improve organization.
Visual learning can truly unlock your creative potential. And for those with dyslexia, who tend to have a natural tendency towards creative thinking, visual learning can provide an extremely useful and effective way to manage daily tasks.
Visuals enable us to easily see the bigger picture and remove the complexity of certain pieces of information. Research by design consultancy, Zabisco, discovered that 40% of people respond better to visual information than plain text. Visual cues and stimuli allow us to better receive and remember information. The brain is capable of absorbing 36,000 visual images every hour, making it an extremely effective way of processing and retaining information.
According to ‘The Index of Learning Styles’, developed by Dr Richard Felder and Barbara Soloman, there are four dimensions of learning styles:
- Sensory – learners who prefer concrete, practical and procedural information.
- Visual – learners who prefer pictures and look for a visual representation of information.
- Active – learners who enjoy working in groups to solve problems.
- Sequential – learners who have information presented to them linearly, in an orderly manner.
Whilst learning styles vary for every person, the benefits of visual learning for dyslexic thinkers is significant. So, how does this relate to mind mapping? Mind maps use a unique combination of colours, imagery, and visual-spatial arrangement to help support and stimulate our thinking processes – making them a truly effective tool for dyslexics and visual learners to manage anything from their daily tasks to capturing and expanding on their creative ideas.
What is mind mapping?
A mind map is a visual thinking tool, displaying connecting thoughts which radiate out from one central idea. Ideal for exploring ideas and presenting information in a uniquely visual way, a mind map uses a mix of keywords, colours, and imagery to prompt memory and association. They can provide dyslexic people with a better way to organize and assimilate information. People all around the world use mind maps for:
- Planning – from projects to essays.
- Organizing – from shopping lists to daily to-do plans.
- Note-taking – from lecture notes to capturing big ideas.
- Studying – used as a way to revise and prepare for exams.
What are the benefits of mind mapping for dyslexia?
- Mind mapping helps with organization
Organizational skills can be a challenge for dyslexics. Fortunately, mind mapping is a tool that makes it easy to organize tasks and ideas in one, visual display. You can easily add separate branches to categorize information into different areas. You can also use different colours to differentiate each branch, making it easy to instantly identify the information you need without feeling overwhelmed.
- Mind mapping improves concentration
Many dyslexic people can find it a challenge trying to get their initial ideas down on a blank page. However, by drawing a mind map, your central idea provides a starting point from which to expand. From here, it’s easier to see how ideas connect together and where they can grow. This approach gives the flexibility to get ideas down, and then add a more linear structure at a later point.
- Mind mapping breaks down complex information
Using mind maps can also help with dyslexia by breaking down large pieces of information into more manageable, bite-sized chunks. In the working environment, in particular, writing official documents such as reports or policies can be a challenge as they can present you with a lot of dense, extended information. Mind maps can help to simplify extensive and detailed information by categorizing it into smaller and more manageable pieces. Coupled with images, this can help make gathering the information needed much easier to achieve.
How to elevate the method of mind mapping with dyslexia
- Central idea images
Every mind map begins from a central point, with a central concept. Why not add a central image to the mix? This image is used to represent the topic you want to explore; the visual nature of your central idea helps to stimulate memory and associations in your brain, so any idea you add to your map is automatically anchored to your central idea. This means you’ll never lose sight of your main topic or theme.
- Curved, radiating branches
Mind maps work by visually capturing the various connected trains of thought which happen in your brain when you think of an idea. Rather than generating rigid or even robotic branches to seal information, craft your branches with freedom and fluidity to further stimulate your thinking process.
- Customise with colour
Use different colours for each key branch topic and for highlighting key ideas. This allows you to easily categorize different areas of your mind map using visual indicators, making the information on your mind map much easier to process.
- Add supporting images as visual signifiers
Add images to your mind maps to support your ideas and help to identify certain topics at a glance. Add an image directly to a branch to represent each idea. Adding these images helps to make your mind map more engaging, ideal for presenting information and communicating ideas.
Thanks to their highly visual format and lack of emphasis upon words, mind maps provide dyslexic thinkers with stronger independence and boosted confidence to capture and develop their ideas. In a fluid environment such as mind maps they are given the freedom to flexibly explore ideas how their brains wish to, and the opportunity to organize content in a friendly way. With the world we live in being dominated by linear working formats such as essays, reports, to-do lists etc. the availability of mind maps for dyslexic individuals offers a valuable opportunity for them to excel.
With 1 in 10 people having dyslexia, mind mapping might well be a valuable tool for someone you know. Or maybe it already is. Do you have any positive stories of mind mapping supporting dyslexia? Share below in the comments!