NLP for People Who Have Difficulties With Writing

Filed Under (NLP for learning difficulties) on 01-08-2012

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How can NLP help you or someone who has difficulties with writing? 

The issue:

My five year-old son has been trying to trace dotted lines, curves, circles, letters, and numbers for more than a year. He knows all his letters, numbers, shapes, and colors. But when it comes to writing, it’s a struggle.  He even has a hard time tracing a straight line.  When asked to write on the line, he can’t do it.  His fine motor skills seem pretty weak.  He is also very easily distractible and I have received numerous reports that he doesn’t listen at school.  He is otherwise a very active, intelligent, and happy child. Is there anything I can do to help him?

Why does it happen?

It’s very common for people to develop the belief that there’s something wrong with their motor skills if they can’t write after several attempts.  But this is nothing more than a belief which people construct in their minds based on no evidence.  And since our beliefs drive what we do, there’s no wonder that people feel stuck and can’t proceed.

The real issue is that your child is highly visual and uses his visual skills inappropriately for writing and drawing.  The reason which often causes this is that until a child goes to school everything in his life is three-dimensional [3D].  The house the child lives in, the furniture, people, food, toys, clothing, pets, everything.  When a child comes to school, they start teaching him to read and write words and numbers.  A word and a number are the first things in the child’s life that are two-dimensional [2D].  If a child is highly visual [which means that he processes most information as seeing still or moving pictures in his head], the child’s brain will work hard to recreate the third dimension.

Visual people process information much faster than people who are primarily sound-oriented or physical, because the human brain is allegedly capable of processing 32 frames per second!  Turn your hand 90 degrees in the wrist and back. That’s 2 frames per second.  So imagine the speed of  the brain working at 32 frames per second!  The fact that the brain tries to recreate the third dimension in words and numbers and the third dimension won’t be there every time the child sees another word or number will eventually confuse the brain. And it is exactly this confusion that causes havoc with reading, writing, and drawing.  Not the motor skills.

When someone is highly visual…

The reports  that your son doesn’t listen at school confirm that he’s highly visual!  Think about it: when you’re busy admiring a dress in a shop, you’re concentrating on the dress VISUALLY so much that for the moment when you’re immersed in admiring the dress you don’t hear activity around you. If you’re painting a wall, embroidering, sewing, or reading something on the internet, you’re busy paying attention to it visually and your hearing and listening are low (or none) at that moment.  Your son won’t listen because he’s busy seeing still or moving pictures in his imagination and that takes up all his concentration.
Have you noticed that blind people usually have excellent hearing?  That’s nature’s balancing act.  So if it works one way, i.e. where sight [visual] is low or none and hearing is heightened, then it definitely works the other way, i.e. high visual, low hearing.

The fact that this child is very bright and intelligent doesn’t surprise me.  Life is full of paradoxes. The paradox here is that things you’ve described, and other symptoms of dyslexia, dyscalculia, and other learning difficulties happen EXACTLY to highly visual people, because they take in a lot of information at once – and have high capacity to retain a lot – and try to turn it around in their heads at 32 frames per second.  Visual memory is the most reliable of all types of memory and this explains why your son knows all his letters, numbers, shapes, and colors.  But sometimes this overcrowded visual sense can cause chaos in the head.  And then even the highest of intelligence won’t budge the issue.

How can NLP help here?

1. Learn grounding, teach it to your son, and do it for your and his life. Your son’s young age and lack of grounding is also the cause of his issues.

2. If your child can’t even trace a straight line, it happens for a reason which you need to find.  Have you ever asked him whether the pictures he imagined were moving around? I strongly suspect that this will be at the bottom of this.  Think about it: imagine a straight line.

  • Do you see it still or moving?
  • Do you see it clear and sharp or fuzzy and obscured?
  • How far do you see it from your face?  So close that you can only see a part of the line?  Or so far that you can’t even properly detect what it is and whether it’s straight or curved?
  • Where in your visual field do you see it?  Center?  Top right?  Bottom left?
  • How brightly do you see it?  Is there enough clear contrast between the line and the background against which you see the line?

Once you notice all these factors, you’ll be clear about why and how you see what you see. Ask your son what he sees how.  If any of these factors is uncomfortable, it’ll be one, but not necessarily the only reason why he’s having problems.  When you encounter something that needs work, play a little game:

  • Ask him to imagine that he has a hi-fi in front of him with round knobs on it.  If he wants to turn up the volume, he’ll have to keep turning the volume knob slowly to the right until he gets the volume he wants.  You can do exactly the same thing with altering brightness, sharpness, contrast, etc.
  • Use the metaphor of a camera with a zoom lens for altering distance.
  • If you find that the pictures in his imagination are moving and the line he’s trying to trace is dancing around, use the metaphor of pressing the pause button on a remote control.  What happens when you press the pause button?  The picture on the screen freezes.  And THIS IS EXACTLY what your son needs to achieve.  If his pictures [which he should see as still] are moving, help him freeze them.

Keep going…

3. Once his pictures are still [where appropriate], clear, sharp, comfortably distant from his face, and in a comfortable place in his visual field, do the following:
Invest in a few large sheets of paper that you see on flipcharts in conferences.  Fasten one sheet at a time to the wall at your son’s eye level.  Direct your son to write on this sheet on the wall until he improves.
When we are processing information visually, we automatically look up above our eye level, because that’s where the visual field is. When we are writing on a straight desk, we’re forced to look down which is where our feelings are.  Feelings are the wrong tool for writing!  Writing, reading, and drawing are visual activities, yet you’re asking your son to process them through feelings. No wonder he fails.

The other dangerous side effect of this is that if he has been failing, he’ll have developed negative feelings about writing and drawing.  He’ll think: “I hate this“, “I don’t want to do this“, “I’m terrible at this“, “I’ll never be able to do this“.  At 5 years of age he won’t be able to verbalize most of these negative feelings, but he most certainly already has developed them!  And if you’ve never asked him about them. how would you know?
Lifting the writing pad above his eye level will take him out of the feelings and remove negative ones.  And he’ll remain the happy child he is!

4. Once his internal pictures are the way they should be and you have the writing pad on the wall, ask him to draw that straight line.  It helps if you give him time to first imagine what he’s going to draw in his head and then let him copy it straight from his imagination.

5. And when he can draw the straight line, he can do everything else!  The key is to persist and do it slowly step by step.  If you’ve been trying with him for over a year, your patience and determination won’t be an issue!  Keep them up.  And that one day when it all clicks together in your son’s brain will be the eureka moment you’ve both been waiting for!

8. Make it fun!  When you’re both having fun, half the battle will be won!

Would you like NLP help with writing difficulties? Let’s talk about it.

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