To Remember or Not to Remember: Memory Strategies for Dyslexics
To be honest I will tell anyone who will listen that my memory is abysmal. Looking back over my dyslexia diagnostic assessment report from 2017, where a score of 100 represents an average ability, some of my lowest numbers lingered around the 60-70 mark when completing letter and number memory recall tasks. For me I have so many things going round and round in my brain all the time like a swarm of buzzing wasps. Because of this, I find it so hard to keep track of things. Everything has to be written down and noted somewhere, otherwise it gets lost in a flurry of incoming information. Much like Neville from the Harry Potter franchise I think I should invest and buy myself a remembrall. For those who are not Harry Potter nerds like me, in the wizarding world a remembrall is a small round globe between a golf ball and tennis ball size that turns red when its owner forgets or mislays something. The only drawback is however it doesn’t tell you what you’ve forgotten. It just gently reminds you that you’ve forgotten something!
For me and many fellow dyslexics there are two types of memory that we particularly struggle with: auditory memory and working memory. Auditory or ‘echoic’ memory in purely based around the processing and decoding of sounds. The most common of which is spoken sounds or words. According to scientific sources auditory sounds are only retained for roughly three to four seconds, meaning that the information is lost and forgotten quickly. Unlike written visual information where one can read words/sentences repeatedly without it changing, it is much more difficult to hear auditory information more than once without asking a person to repeat themselves; which after a while could become quite frustrating for both parties. Because auditory information is naturally stored for a shorter amount of time, this alongside dyslexics who struggle with processing auditory information can greater hamper echoic memory abilities. Day to day tasks such as hearing and following complex multi-layered instructions, recalling names of people or places and remembering lists/routines can be an absolute nightmare for dyslexics.
Widely researched and discussed in the world of Psychology, working memory is another type of memory store that connects and links together ones long term and short term memory. It is primarily a subpart of the short term memory system where information is processed and finalised for transfer to the long term memory. Daily activities that require the use of working memory include learning and recalling timetables, spellings, routines such as driving and important times and dates. For dyslexics in particular, information, facts and procedures need to be frequently revisited and reviewed in order for this transition to occur. Thus, this repetition is vital, as it aims to counteract when a dyslexic individual’s working memory is not functioning as efficiently as it could.
To help counteract my memory difficulties I have a system of strategies that I deploy on a daily basis. I cannot emphasise enough the importance of writing things down. This not only acts as a physical reminder that I can see, but also provides reassurance as I can read back through and repeat items that I have noted down. Crucially I have found that having a variety of visually appealing places to note your important information, dates and facts down is immensely useful. For me I have a selection of different sized posts it notes, note pads (including all four of the Hogwarts houses), a diary for work and a full sized Great British Bake Off calendar with all my appointments, deadlines and key information written on. In addition setting up reminders on your phone, laptop or tablet can also be a great way to keep on track of your hectic daily schedule. So, whether you prefer more technical-based reminders or more traditional paper-based strategies use one or a combination of reminders that is right for you.
As a person with a Psychology background, it is absolutely vital to note that none of these strategies can permanently fix or reverse memory difficulties and deficits in dyslexics. However, these can act as great coping mechanisms or ‘dyslexic life hacks’ to help individuals with their organisation skills, keep track with the chaos of everyday life and to assist in structuring their daily routines. I still forgot a lot of things a lot of the time. But without using my ‘paper based life hacks’ I would forget a heck of a lot more!
On a final note, this will be my last post until the new year. Thank you for all your awesome support and kind words during the early stages of my blog and wishing you all a merry Christmas and a happy 2019!