I really enjoy baking. I am not going to be the next winner of the Great British Bake Off, but I am capable of baking edible meals and cakes. Last week, I went to an icing workshop. Icing is an element that has often let me down. It has been a long time since I have learnt a new skill.
It took me back to my school days and how I learnt not only from the teacher but also by observing my peers. My first attempts at icing were on a sheet of paper with templates. It reminded me of handwriting exercises, and I was about as successfulat icing as I was at handwriting. Not very.
The instructor was very patient and walked around to every pair, and I could hear the instructions being said each time. This was wonderful because it gave me lots of opportunities to learn and relearn each step. After a few minutes of icing, my hand was in agony as my hyper mobile joints were not enjoying the new information they were having to learn. Eventually, I managed to ice a passable biscuit, and I was quite proud of my achievement. I was exhausted, though, and really wanted to fall asleep and hibernate.
It was a brilliant reminder to me of a number of the challenges faced by neurodivergent learners:
• The need to have the obvious pointed out and confirmed.
• The need for relearning information several times
• Tasks that are standard for most people can be painful.
• The exhaustion of learning new information
• The self-doubt and lack of confidence combined with the need for perfection.
• The overwhelm of learning in a group. There were 12 adults in the room who were focussed, and the environment was calm, but this still caused sensory processing challenges.
• When I got home, I was looking forward to eating one of my biscuits, but somewhere between London and home, I managed to lose them.
For those of you who have a child in school or college who appears to be struggling with learning, I hope this helps explain some of the reasons!