Pupils often won’t tell you about such conditions because they don’t think it’s relevant, they’re embarrassed or perhaps they don’t even realise they have the condition!The more we understand about a pupil, the better we can tailor their training programme to their needs and improve their learning to drive experience.

Blinded by reality

The Dyslexia Institute describes dyslexia as: “A specific learning difficulty that hinders the learning of literacy skills. This problem with managing verbal codes in memory is neurologically based and tends to run in families. Dyslexia can occur at any level of intellectual ability. It can accompany, but is not a result of, lack of motivation, emotional disturbance or sensory impairment.”

Clues to the condition can include the following:

●Problems with directionality – muddling up left/right.

●Sequencing problems – signals before mirror checks etc.

●Organisational problems – issues with planning and awareness

●Difficulty with time – reduced processing speed

●Difficulty in motor integration – coordination issues (often with dyspraxia)

●Weakness of short-term memory

●Difficulty in transferring from short term to long term memory

●Difficulty with long term memory recall

Adjusting the beam

The following looks at the more common issues and will help you find the solutions for your pupils.

DIRECTIONALITY – muddling up lefts and rights is not uncommon. Many learners, but especially those with dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties, experience confusion between left and right. They may be in the right-hand lane at a roundabout, with their right signal on, and still ask: “Which way am I going again?”. Even more dangerous is when they then try to turn left!

You can stop your pupils muddling up left/right using this very simple Ten Second Technique: as part of the cockpit drill at the beginning of the lesson, ask your pupil to tap the outer edge of one hand (where they would do a ‘karate chop’), then tap under the nose, and then tap the outer edge of the other hand. Tap each point 5-10 times. This seems very bizarre, but having taught it to thousands of instructors and learner drivers, I can guarantee it’s highly effective; much more so than all the other methods I’ve tried, such as pointing left/right or coloured stickers etc.

This ‘tapping’ technique comes from ‘Thought Field Therapy’. We will look further at this multi-purpose technique in a future article.

SEQUENCING – placing information into the correct order can be problematic for any learner driver, but especially for dyslexic learners. When I qualified as an ADI in 2002, I systematically taught MSPSLADA to every pupil as I’d been encouraged to in training.

I’d get so frustrated when they didn’t ‘get it’, even after I’d hammered it home for thirty plus hours of lessons! Thankfully, I learnt some lessons about teaching, and the culture of instruction has been replaced across the industry by the process of engaging pupils in their learning process and teaching them.

ORGANISING – when introducing something new, always give an overview of the subject, the reasons behind certain actions (e.g. such as why check mirrors before changing speed), and fully engage your pupil in the process, getting them to figure out the ‘why’ if possible through coaching, and understanding the potential consequences. This helps to put the learning into context, allowing the learner to assimilate the learning holistically, in bite size chunks, and not just through verbal lectures.

Most learners know how they learn best, so adapt your teaching to take in their preferences such as demonstrations, your own videos, commentary driving, mind maps or lists of actions. Many of my pupils have perfected their parallel park by reversing their toddler’s tricycle or sit on toy car around their coffee table between lessons!

MEMORISING – many dyslexic learners struggle with short-term memory, transferring information from short-term to long-term memory, and then retrieving it. Using as many strategies as possible in the learning process really aids these processes. The differences in learning actions have more traction when it comes to recall, as opposed to repetition and the blurred effect of merging of different lessons. This can be frustrating for instructors, and demoralising for learners.

If you would like more information on Diane’s books on Dyslexia and Dyspraxia, please click here.