From within about an hour of installing a mind-mapping application on my laptop, I was a convert… possibly even an evangelist.

Far above all of the “assistive technology” available for dyslexics, this has so far been the one that has impacted my everyday life the most. To be honest, you don’t need to be dyslexic to get a benefit from this but if you are then please keep reading.

Why do I need mind-maps?

There are a few things you need to know:

  1. First, I am lucky enough to have a number of positive impacts of dyslexia. One of those is that once I have acquired new information I can process it very rapidly and often have multiple thoughts at once. That often means that I can solve the most complex problems faster than others.
  2. Second, I have a problem writing and thinking at the same time. I believe it is to do with short-term memory. However, the bottom line is that I keep forgetting where I am in the overall flow of the thing that I am writing. As a result, my writing meanders and needs to be edited (by me) again and again until it finally expresses what I mean.
  3. Thirdly, I see patterns in things – often before others. I use that to form and then set out compelling arguments and explanations that become very clear to readers.
  4. Finally, I have a fairly precise use of language and so – whilst not finding it easy to write – am a fierce critic of my own work. So that means the editing can take a very long time.

How do they help?

So how does mind-mapping help? I think I usually go through four stages:

  • Capture ideas: Rapidly capture the multiple ideas in whatever order they arrive in my head (or are suggested by others).
  • Establish structure: Iteratively review the information that I have captured, spot possible patterns and major themes, move elements of the mind-map around and categorise information.
  • Assemble detail: Some of the ideas initially captured will turn out to be elements of the detail that supports the overall argument and others will be discarded. With a mind map that is a very simple process.
  • Finalise detailed text: Now that the structure is in place along with a skeleton of facts I am able to turn the document into prose.
  • Export and format: The mind mapping tool that I use exports to almost every other package that I use – Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Project, Email etc.

As a result, I use mind maps for everything, reports, meeting planning, writing complex emails etc.

In my view they are a brilliant tool – dyslexic or not. Clearly, you will have to make up your own mind as all of us have a different experience of dyslexia.