#46 Exploring Self-Compassion with Dr. Joanne Scott

Exploring Self-Compassion. Dr. Joanne Scott originally believed you’re either smart or stupid. She was told that she’s not that clever by a career advisor when she told him she wanted to be a Psychologist. Now, Dr. Joanne Scott is a registered clinical psychologist. Find out her story.

Here are some of Joanne’s Top QUOTES in the podcast.

Career Adviser

“I went to our careers adviser I told him, I want to be a psychologist. He laughed at me and he said, ‘you can’t be a psychologist. Psychologists are doctors. Doctors are clever and you’re not clever. What you should do is leave high school and apply to the old people’s home across the road.’”

Binary Thinking

“Going through high school I was never really sure of whether I was smart or not. I recognize that my brain was processing in a way that other people weren’t processing but, on the other hand, I wasn’t able to demonstrate my kind of abilities in a way that people could tangibly see.”

Full Transcript

Darius (00:00): Hello, welcome to dyslexia, explored on Darius Namdaran, your host, and today I have with me a podcast listener who got in touch, which is great. Now she is a licensed clinical psychologist who is also dyslexic and is diagnosed as ADHD and dyspraxic and wants to share a little bit about our story, starting back with difficulties in high school, dropping out of high school and then eventually getting a doctorate in psychology and is now a clinical psychologist. I’d like to introduce to you Dr Joanne Scott. Joanne, it’s great to have you here with us.

Joanne Scott (00:50) Hi. Thank you for having me here.

Darius (00:52): It’s going to be good fun speaking to you. I know a little bit about what we’re going to discuss and I’m looking forward to hearing your story. I’m particularly looking forward to talking about the interplay between dyslexia and ADHD and also the whole idea of achievement and failure and feeling like a failure and judging your achievement by external things and how do you deal inwardly with all that. So I’m really looking forward to all of you telling us a little bit about all of that and your theories on that.

Joanne Scott (01:23): Thank you. I’m excited to be here,

Darius (01:25): but let’s start right at the beginning. It’s great to have you here with us. So we’ve got our usual questions on dyslexia explored where we ask people where did it all begin in the beginning of the story, you know, where was the happy place and where were you at the beginning? And then we’ll talk a bit about what were the moments that start to do wake you up to dyslexia. So let’s start first with the beginning before dyslexia or before noticing dyslexia in your life, where were you then?

Joanne Scott (01:56): I was diagnosed with dyslexia around 23 or 24 which meant I went through my school career without a diagnosis of any kind, although really having a strong sense that there was difficulties that I was experiencing that were above and beyond what I would, what would be anticipated a person would experience. I think the beginning is, is that I was actually born two weeks later than my due date. And that kind of set the tone for my life really in everything that I’ve done in life has taken me much longer.

Darius (02:35): So you’re saying you were born late and you’ve been late ever since.

Joanne Scott (02:39): Exactly. Yeah. And, and when I say late, I mean it’s just taken me longer to cook than most people.

Darius (02:45): Yeah. So you’re kind of like, it’s a typical comment about dyslexia is that we’re late bloomers, aren’t we?

Joanne Scott (02:53): Yes. And it’s been really very interesting to me to kind of consider my relationship to time, which you know, we were talking about before we came on. My, my relationship to time is interesting to me in that if I sometimes think, you know, if we were given longer to do things in life, I wouldn’t have any issues at all.

Darius (03:15): Well, I’ll tell you what, if we’re talking about time, let’s go back in time a little bit here. How was it for you learning to tell the time?

Joanne Scott (03:23): Oh my gosh. Learning to tell the time. I mean, it took a very long time for me to learn to tell time. Yeah.

Darius (03:30): How old were you? Can you remember it? Because I can remember it was a bit of an experience for me.

Joanne Scott (03:35): How old was I when I learned to tell the time? I don’t think it was like a, Oh, now I’ve got it. I think it was a gradual dawning that has never quite arrived, I don’t think. I would say perhaps even now, I struggle a lot with time and, because the, I struggle with it having a fluid relationship to time, I tend to have a very concrete relationship to it. And my husband will say, you know, I add 30 minutes onto every, every task. So if I have to be somewhere at eight 30 and it takes 30 minutes to get there, I’ll say that I need to leave at seven 30 and, and what happens is I’ll end up leaving at eight 35 and being late every single time. Yeah.

Darius (04:15): Tell me one of the classics is all these processes in the early years, like tying shoelaces. How did that go?

Joanne Scott (04:22): They vary. I don’t have vivid, although I know it was hard like I don’t have very vivid memories of learning to tie my shoelace. I remember feeling very frustrated that I couldn’t figure out how to kind of get dressed in alike how to, what, what order things needed to be put on in things like sports at school were very, very challenging for me. Things like knowing which direction to take the ball across the court were just almost, it just eluded me. I could not understand. I can’t, could not get the concept of a game like a netball. So, so things that kind of involve like concrete processes, you know, like tying shoes and putting on clothes that, that was very challenging.

Darius (05:08): So we had the beginning. What was the wake up call? You talked about 21 or you could maybe talk about the wake-up calls, but what woke you up to dyslexia? Was it a… Often it’s a person or some sort of encounter or something? And people haven’t really thought about it, but when you do think about it, you go, ah, yes.

Joanne Scott (05:29): So my, my predominant memory of struggling with something that I felt I really shouldn’t be struggling with was, um, when I was in the top grade of my primary school as a reward for good behavior or whatever you, you got the opportunity to go into the reception class and to read to them, to like to be a helper in the class for the day. And I remember sitting in front of a group of children. They were all sitting on the carpet and I decided I wanted to read the book, make Morgan owl to them, and I picked up the book off the shelf and I flipped it around five or six times and just could not figure out how to open the book. I knew if I got into the book I could read it, but I could not figure out which way round it needed to be opened or how to begin it.

Joanne Scott (06:20): And that I think for me was like, Oh, something’s not right here. So I made a joke of it is how I kind of got through it or I tried to turn it into like I was trying to educate the children on how to open a book and I said, does anyone know how to open this book? And you know, they all took it off me and opened it for me and I was able to read from them. But I think that for me was like, uh, I, I would have been about probably about seven or eight at that time and should have been able to not actually or perhaps a bit told about nine. Should have known how to open

Darius (06:52): in the book. So you learnt the art of delegation in that moment.

Joanne Scott (06:58): I mean it’s a creative um, skill that’s definitely has had a long, long time you sent. Yeah.

Darius (07:05): Yes. I mean I’m surprised by how many people with dyslexia use a form of delegation to deal with issues like Richard Branson’s great story about him in a board room with a $1 billion company, a huge company in Europe, multiple companies. And someone presented the financial statements. And when he, he replied by saying, so what does that mean and what do you think of that? And his director, one of his directors looked at him and afterwards came out and said, Richard, do you know the difference between net profit and gross profit? And he’s like, no, I don’t. Actually

Darius (07:46): And the guy, the director took a napkin and drew a net with fish in it and then fish outside of the net. And he said, all the fishes in this paper are gross profit and all the fishes that are in the net are the ones we can take away. And why, why did I share that? It was like he was using that question to delegate something that he hadn’t got to someone else to explain it for him. And, and it took someone who understood dyslexia at that point that he was a visual thinker and dyslexic to teach him. He was 41 at that age or forties, very successful. Didn’t know the difference between gross profit and net profit until someone explained it to him visually. Anyway, so he, used a similar trick, which you learned at nine years old. So

Joanne Scott (08:37): I love that story because it’s so, I love that he was able to say to that person, no, I didn’t know what that meant because it strikes me that we, we can’t know what we don’t know. And there’s nothing less validating in life to have somebody that gets in your faces and says, well, you should know this by now. Because if you don’t know it, it doesn’t, it’s not a helpful thing to say,

Darius (09:01): yes, you should know this. Well, certainly Richard Branson should’ve known it by 41 or whatever, but it didn’t stop them becoming a multimillionaire, having multi different companies and he hadn’t accounted for that.

Joanne Scott (09:15): Well, yeah. And we’d like to, we should on ourselves way too much. There’s an expression in psychology we shouldn’t be, we shouldn’t should our selves.

Darius (09:23): That’s right. It’s a violent word. Have you come across nonviolent,

Joanne Scott (09:30): nonviolent communication?

Darius (09:32): Nonviolent communication. Yes,

Joanne Scott (09:34): yes, yes.

Darius (09:36): Yeah. They’re very strong on not saying should very much because it’s a bit of a lazy and yeah, high pressure

Joanne Scott (09:43): then. And you know, as a therapist, I tell clients not to should on themselves. It really doesn’t help anything because it doesn’t. It only adds to feelings of shame about not knowing. And you know what one good thing you know is that Richard Branson is able to say, you know, yes I have this business and this profit and no, I don’t know that.

Darius (10:05): Yeah. Tell me more. Do you know why we did a video on this? Actually an animated video on it. We should put it in the links. We’ll put it in the podcast links in the show notes. And what I found interesting about that was that his director had enough understanding of Richard Branson and dyslexia that he explained to on a bit of paper,

Joanne Scott (10:29): right? Yeah, yeah.

Darius (10:30): Visually. Because if he had explained it verbally, I’m sure Branson probably at heart, numerous verbal explanations of net profit and gross profit in board meetings and things like that. But when the person took it and drew it down in a map like fishes in nets, he understood what net profit was because he could visually get it. And I find that one of the reasons why it’s useful to understand dyslexia, you know, you listen to these podcasts us doing these podcasts. Once you start understanding dyslexia, you can deal with yourself in different ways and with other bosses or coworkers or staff in a way that helps them

Joanne Scott (11:13): Yeah, I that’s, it’s so important to be able to, to receive information. They actually, they, they say that we’ve, math. The biggest factor in, in a child being good or not good at maths is the way that it’s taught to them. And that’s the teacher is the biggest determinant of how the child manages and you know, to, to understand what a person doesn’t understand and be able to fill that blank in for them. It is a huge gift.

Darius (11:43): Well, let’s move on to, you know, we talked about the wake up call. That was when you first noticed something was off and was there wake up call. Before we talk about your particular challenges with dyslexia, you know, was the dyslexia test itself a significant moment or was it the ADHD diagnosis? Well actually tell us a bit about that whole dyslexia dyspraxia, ADHD, because that’s fascinating.

Joanne Scott (12:12): Right? I guess to kind of go back a little bit, when I was around kind of middle school age, I don’t know if you remember, there was a children’s program called ‘The Low Down’. Do you remember that? It was on BBC one and it was right before neighbors. Sometimes it was good and sometimes it wasn’t. But um, it was basically like a little documentary for children. And one of the themes once was, was dyslexia. And so around the age of like 12 or 13, you know, I’m watching this program now, I’m like, ‘Oh I, I resonate with that. That really, that sounds like me. I, I, I think that, you know, this could be the thing that’s, that’s I’m really struggling with’. And so around that time, you know, I, I wanted to find out, well how do you, how do you get this test?

Joanne Scott (12:59): Like how do you know if you’ve got dyslexia? And I spoke to my parents about it and they really didn’t have much knowledge or understanding of it. Cause this was, you know, before dyslexia was really well kind of understood like it is now. And so we kind of determined it’s probably like a medical thing and we should wait because we, you know, we were raised to not kind of like go to the doctors and bother them unnecessarily. Basically the plan was, you know, wait until I get sick and then go to the doctors. And we could ask the doctor at that point, you know, does dyslexia, you know, how do we get this diagnosis? How do we know? So yeah, I probably waited six months, however long, you know, till I was legitimately sick and I had to go anyway. And then at the end of the appointment, you know, I talked about the dyslexia thing and the doctor said that’s, you know, an educational thing and that’s something that you need to kind of address.

Joanne Scott (13:50): You know, you’re within the school system. And so I went to my teacher, my classroom teacher, and maybe my timing is off with the age because I don’t remember age, uh, numbers very well. But time had passed and I went to my classroom teacher and I said, you know, can I get diagnosed with dyslexia? You know, can I, can I find out what I need to do to be tested for dyslexia? And the teacher said, well that’s, I, you can’t ask for that. You, you have to have your parents request it. Um, you know, have your parents request the test and then we’ll look into it. And so by parents, you know, didn’t want to unduly disturb the teachers. So we had to wait till the next parent’s evening, like more time passed. And they requested, they said, you know, Joanne thinks that she has this, can we look into it?

Joanne Scott (14:33): So then it kind of went into this like long holding periods and the person who was in charge of special ed eventually had said, you know, I will not going to do like a formal test for you. What we’re going to do is I’ll do like a little inhouse thing and it’ll see, we’ll see whether there’s any issues that pop up through that. And so she did an informal test and she, you know, came back with the results and me and my mom sat in the room and she said, you know, there are things that would indicate dyslexic type issues, but we’re not going to formally evaluate these, these kind of phonic type of spelling exercises that you guys can do together that’s going to help improve her spelling. And so that, that is, you know, what, what we did, me and my mom, we kind of worked and it, and it was helpful, you know, that, but, but what was so sad about that is the, you know, a lot of time had passed. I didn’t get diagnosed and I didn’t get any sort of accommodations that would have been so helpful to me within school as a result of that. So I was already in the first year of my degree course at university before I, I was able to really kind of advocate for myself and request an assessment.

Darius (15:40): I think it would be useful for the listeners around the world to hear what the result of you not being identified at that age was. I mean, you’re British, you’re in America right now, orange country, California. but there’s listeners all around the world. So you’re, you’re roughly, I don’t know, 13, 14 at that time.

Joanne Scott (16:04): Uh, probably around that age. Like I said, I don’t have, I’m not someone who says, ‘Oh yes, I remember exactly how old I was at that time’. And I think that was a product of my issues as well. But

Darius (16:12): you were telling me you got GCSE in high school, which in international terms is kind of like, you know, what’s that three years before you leave school, you do these exams two years before you leave new school.

Joanne Scott (16:27): It’s like the basic high school certificate I guess.

Darius (16:30): Yeah. And so you must’ve been round about 14 years old, 15 years old.

Joanne Scott (16:36): Um, I think I did my GCSE. So I, I, this kind of like happened around 14 or 15 and then I took my GCSE is at 16. I didn’t do well because, and there were some, there were some exams that I was in the I just, I just run out of time, you know, I did not have enough time to formulate my thoughts or to process enough to kind of the, the time pressure in itself caused a lot of anxiety, which in itself meant that I wasn’t even doing good in the time that I had.

Darius (17:06): So you you go three C’s,

Joanne Scott (17:08): I don’t, uh, I got an A in expressive arts, which, you know, go figure. I was able to talk like verbal processing is when they, when they test the dyslexia, they’re not necessarily looking for you to be bad across the board. They’re looking for a big disparity in the things that you’re good at and the things that you are not. And my verbal processing was something that came up high and that’s what kind of pop the disparity I guess. So, um, expressive arts. I got an A and then I did get two C’s English because actually it’s a, a subject that I think given the right conditions I could have really excelled. And I really enjoyed English and I got an E in religious studies, which was really a product to just my interest in, in the, in the subject. But the, the rest where were do you use an ease and you know, really kind of, you know, failed I guess.

Darius (17:59): Yeah. So to help people who are listening is, normally, you know, your counterparts who were doing the same exams at the time. Maybe children who have similar internal ability but not necessarily external ability to deliver on the results. What were they getting in comparison?

Joanne Scott (18:19): Um, so like five, I think what they look for as a general standard, you know, to, to kind of move to the next stage of education. They, they want you to kind of have five C’s or at that time you know that they wanted you to have a C in math or a C or above. I actually have acquired in my lifetime about six E’s in GCSE Maths. I never got any further with it.

Darius (18:44): No. Six fails in maths.

Joanne Scott (18:46): Six failures. Yeah. Six C’s like never even got like two a D. Like always E, they wanted you to have maths and they wanted you to have English and then they really wanted you to have five C’s above.

Darius (18:59): I mean in reality, just to help the listeners here, you know, I know Joanne’s being moderate, we’ll be modest on this, but if you’ve got a doctorate in clinical psychology at that stage you would probably be getting, you know, six or seven GCCS at a grade and B grade and so forth. In reality. And I think that’s quite useful to know for listeners because I suspect that non diagnosis at that early age meant that you couldn’t really express your academic potential at in high school.

Joanne Scott (19:37): Definitely. In fact, you know, around that time, around like 16 or 17 I went to our careers advisor and you know, he’s like, what is it that you want to do? And I told him, you know, I, I want to be a psychologist. I had that desire to be a psychologist at that point in time. And he, and, and this is, you know, a product of who he was. He, he laughed at me and he said, you can’t be a psychologist. Psychologists are doctors. Doctors are clever and you’re not clever. What you should do is leave high school and apply to the old people’s home across the road. Well, the road as a care assistant, I hear that they’re, they’re taking applicants right now. And actually, you know, that obviously that’s, you know, on the one hand is a crushing thing to hear from a perceived or authority figure.

Joanne Scott (20:25): But on the other hand, it did speak to the part of me that felt that I wasn’t clever. And you know, the, the reality is that going through, you know, high school and you don’t come to school system without having a diagnosis meant that I was never really sure. I never had a very consistent sense of whether I was smart or not because that on the one hand, I recognize that my brain was processing in a way that other people weren’t processing and that there was some merit to that. But on the other hand, I wasn’t able to demonstrate my kind of abilities in a way that people could tangibly see. And so I know that a lot of times when people tell these stories, the next thing that they say would be, you know, and that was when I thought, I’ll show him I’m going to become a psychologist.

Joanne Scott (21:15): You know, he’s wrong. I’ll become a psychologist. And a lot of people will kind of relay these stories in such a way as to kind of, you know, this is the thing that spurred them on to try to prove somebody wrong who said that they can’t do something. And for me that is actually not the case. What actually happened was he, in a certain sense, he recognized and validated something in me that you know, was actually there was truth to it. You know, I didn’t have the recognized intelligence to become a psychologist. And in some ways internally it kind of let me off the hook. It’s like, well I did want to be a psychologist, but now this authority figure is telling me in absolute terms that I cannot be a psychologist. So what else am I going to do with my life? I don’t need to keep striving for something that feels like it’s not possible for me anyway.

Darius (22:06): So what happened next?

Joanne Scott (22:08): Well, it might be more of a question of what happened before because, so the, the, the, the reality is that all the way along, you know, my academic career and, and to this day, you know, there’s, there’s really been like, um, of a binary way that, you know, I’ve seen, I, I’ve seen myself and I think that, you know, this is true for all children. We children tend to think in very black and white sort of terms. We’re either smart or stupid and way back when I was kind of seven or eight but very quiet, you know, younger than that perhaps. I remember kind of sitting in the classroom and the teacher saying, the theme that the topic we were talking about was toys and toys that were used for educational value. So he said to the class, I want you to try to think of different types of toys that are educational.

Joanne Scott (23:01): And I remember sitting there and thinking, well, that’s a silly question because aren’t all toys educational? I, I, I remember testing the thought in my head and thinking, what toy isn’t educational? Like adult can teach children how to be nurturing. Obviously a puzzle is good with like, hi Hondai coordination, but even the most kind of indulgent of toys have some educational value. And I remember, you know, putting up my hand and submitting this answer to him and he was like, yes Joanne, that that wasn’t what we were looking for and really not giving any kind of credence to my global thinking, which I think is common for people with dyslexia. We tend to like look at the whole of the issue. We’re not just looking at this particular piece of information that this teacher’s looking for. We’re kind of like looking around the back of it, looking in front of it, seeing the whole thing.

Joanne Scott (23:53): And in that particular moment, it could have gone one of two ways for me, but for whatever reason in that particular moments, I remember thinking this teacher is too stupid to understand what I’m thinking here and I am clever of on him. And so my point is that, you know, all the way along there’s been like these two parts of me that have been come that really kind of come out, not always at random, but they come out in relation to my environment. And one part Vince has felt, Oh yes, you know, I’m very clever. And the other parts of me has felt, you know, I’m really quite stupid. Which in the case of when I was sitting in front of the careers advisor and I was told, you know, you can’t be a psychologist, you’re not clever enough. You know, the, I’m quite stupid. part came up for me really.

Darius (24:47):  So did you buy it and did you take his advice and go to the,

Joanne Scott (24:51): In a sense I did. Yeah. I actually dropped out of high school at that point. I was, I was kind of on par to do what was called a the MVQ at the time. I don’t know if you still had those in the UK now, but

Darius (25:05): could you explain it to the international folk?

Joanne Scott (25:08): It was the equivalent of like an advanced high school certificate or it was kind of touted to be, but it was a vocational based one. So it could be the one that I was planning to do was in health and social care, which is kind of roughly the field that I was hoping to kind of move into. But after I had this, this conversation with my careers advisor, I, you know, really decided, no, you know, I wanted to leave school and I was really quite done with school and I was over the educational system by that time anyway. And so lucky for me, in fact, I’d already, I’d been volunteering at, um, a day center for adults with severe learning disabilities at that time. Like really, that couldn’t function in, in our day to day life type of situation. And I had a very good relationship with the staff there and the manager and I, I think I dropped out of high school on the first day and I contacted the manager and started working now on the Monday. So yeah,

Darius (26:15): so fast forwarding it, we’ve got this contrast between you’re now a doctor of psychology and you dropped out of high school and what you really want to come on the podcast and talk about is about the emotional side of it all and how you judge success and so on. So if you could tell a little bit about what the main challenge was in that whole process for you and then we’ll go onto the reward, what you’ve kind of learned and what can you can give back from that experience.

Joanne Scott (26:49): Sure. So I think what’s been challenging for me, what’s really tripped me up in life, which I would, you know, hope maybe to save people from is, is this binary thinking that got kind of, you know, the, I, I hinted up when we were talking previously this kind of, this uncertainty of whether I’m actually really smart or really stupid. And this desire to determine one way or the other, which one I am. Because you know, and it’s understandable, children want to know how they are in comparison to their peers, you know, and, and, and they’re very competitive and, and most children, you know, and I see this in my nine year old and my 11 year old, they, they know where they stand in terms of, you know, how clever they are compared to their peers. And so I really kind of carried that with me, that very binary way of identifying myself a little bit.

Joanne Scott (27:43): Like if you’ve ever seen those, those weather houses where the, if it’s going to be sunny, the woman comes out and if it’s going to be rainy, the man comes out. Okay. Have you ever seen those things, those, yeah, those barometers. Yeah. Well really, you know, in, in reality the weather has many shades in between. It’s a very like limited way of determining the weather. And, and that for me has been, what’s been very limiting for me is like trying to determine and I smart or am I stupid and not really known knowing or understanding all the shades that come in between that and the I am both and I am Neither, you know, we really in terms of, and it’s to deeper philosophical question for the podcast, but in terms of who we are, you know, we really aren’t the product or the, you know, when we’re not our successes or our failures in the world, that’s just the kind of the external wrapping and um, I think, you know, because we tend to, we tend to view the idea of self esteem.

Joanne Scott (28:52): You know, it’s, Oh, it’s good to have high self esteem and we don’t want to have low self esteem. I think that’s really, a misnomer. What, has been helpful to me has been challenging myself to do things not knowing if I can do them, not really even believing that I can do them, but knowing that if I can’t do this, I can forgive myself for not doing it. If I, if I fail in this regard, then I can have compassion for myself within that. I think that that for me has been, you know, the success, the success of, of becoming a licensed psychologist is, you know, obviously huge for me and has been great achievement in my life, but I could equally be sitting here having not achieved that and still have this conversation with you that, you know, the, the actual success is, is being able to establish self-compassion along the way.

Darius (29:50): Yes. So let’s talk about self-compassion and so in a way you’re talking about that the challenge throughout that was, am I clever on my stupid and now you’ve come to a point where you’re not really interested in the answer to that question. You’re more interested in compassion for yourself.

Joanne Scott (30:12): Exactly. Yeah. It’s this thing that I’m going to undertake if I can’t, if I, if I don’t manage it, can I forgive myself for it? Or the reverse of that is if I don’t try to do this, can I forgive myself for not trying to do it? Because very often, and particularly with, you know, the really even getting on the doctorate course, I felt like I was white knuckle riding it a lot of the time. Never ever got that strong sense of I’m going to do this, I’m, I can get like I’ve got this, never had that right up until, and it’s a huge, like it’s a long, long process, you know, to write the dissertation to submit it to get my doctorate and then you know, after that there’s a whole process to becoming licensed that’s outside of the doctorate. So the licensing process is separate. It’s, you know, a whole huge exam in itself all the way along. How long did the whole process of the doctorate too? Because it’s like, it’s about like eight or nine years. And part of that was because my, I had my son who was two and I was pregnant with my second son and that’s when I started my doctorate. Wow. Six months pregnant with my second son.

Darius (31:31): Six months pregnant with your second son and he starts a doctorate. That’s crazy.

Joanne Scott (31:38): Well done. That’s probably the ADHD part of me.

Darius (31:41): Yeah. Okay. Well, actually, so let’s go onto the ADHD. Can we go onto the ADHD side of things because that’s quite intriguing. Sure. Yeah. So you started in the UK and then you went to America. Yes. You got your dyslexia diagnosis in the UK when you were 21, 23 did you say

Joanne Scott (32:01): 23 it was dyslexia and dyscalculia and actually the dyscalculia has as perhaps been more of a trouble for me then than the dyslexia in some way.

Darius (32:12): So you go to America and the story goes that you want to get the same color accommodations in America, but they don’t accept the reports that come from the UK. How dare they.

Joanne Scott (32:28): I know. Tell us about that. Well to be fair, because at the time lap, you know I was 23 when I was diagnosed with dyslexia and dyscalculia the UK and then perhaps like a year or so later I went to see a psychologist and she flagged that dyspraxia was probably an issue for me as well. And then I didn’t start my doctorate until I was like 30, 31 and so I’m not sure, you know, in terms of assessment batteries, they do have like a shelf life. I don’t know if it was the time lapsed or the tests that they did in the UK just weren’t comparable or what exactly it was. You know, I had all the written assessments, but they, they said, you know, we can’t accept this. We need you to be assessed again. And when they assessed

Darius (33:19): your a psychologist now but you weren’t a psychologist then.

Joanne Scott (33:23): Exactly.

Darius (33:24): So they redid the tests and what were the results of those tests?

Joanne Scott (33:29): So that’s when they said we don’t see dyslexia here. We see ADHD. And that was the diagnosis that they gave me. And for my purposes, what I, what I was needing, you know, ultimately was the additional time. So to get additional time we’ve coursework and to get additional time with exams and with the ADHD diagnosis, they allowed me to have what’s called time and a half. So I get the quota time and then half of the time on top of it. For example, when I did my licensing exam, the licensing exam is four hours long. I got time and a half, so I got six hours to to sit that.

Darius (34:11): That’s fascinating. You know, it’s something that a number of the parents of the students and bullet map Academy who, who sponsors this podcast? Well, bullet map Academy, hosts this podcast and a number of the parents in our dyslexia club talk about how in America parents are much happier calling their children ADHD than they are dyslexic and actually a lot of educationalists and psychologists are much happier identifying ADHD than dyslexia itself. And I, I don’t know enough, I’m not, an assessor and so on. And I would be fascinated to see how the ADHD tests compare to the dyslexia tests. Because I know the dyslexia test, I got and other’s, get measure IQ, measure your processing speeds on different levels or measuring your working memory and see the disparity. If there’s a disparity between your IQ and your working memory and processing speeds.

Darius (35:21): And that’s what indicates dyslexia empirically as it were. But I don’t know what the ADHD test is. And if there’s anyone who’s listening and does know the difference and wants to come onto the podcast and talk it through with me. I think it’s a, a really big topic for America because I, what do you think about this then Joanne. Now are there, could there be people being misdiagnosed or is it a case of doctors identifying ADHD and then dyslexia as a subset of that and just saying, well, ADHD is enough, let’s just call it that rather than complicating matters. What’s your take on that?

Joanne Scott (36:06): It’s a very, it’s a very convoluted topic. There’s, there’s many like different lines to kind of explore with it. Just the, the notion of, of diagnosis as an even a thing is much more, America’s a much more diagnosis driven culture. And, and that is, you know, as much as I can see is driven by insurance and payments because the, you know, in the UK we have a national health service. And so, a healthcare is available to everyone freely in the U S it’s an insurance driven system, which means that mental health has become a lot more along the medical model than there is in the UK. And so if, if I have somebody come to see me in my practice, the expectation is that they will receive a mental health diagnosis. And, and that has become, I, there’s a lot of political pieces to this I think in terms of dyslexia being seen as a disability, but and ADHD has being seen as a disorder and where the funding comes from. Um, there’s these pieces and then there’s also the, sorry, go ahead.

Darius (37:19): Political. Do you mean essentially it’s a policy stroke funding influenced. Is influencing how people are, well, what’s diagnoses people are pursuing.

Joanne Scott (37:34): I think that’s, that’s a factor for sure. I think that, you know, just the expectation of being diagnosed is, is different over here than it is in the UK. Dyslexia is seen as a disability, whereas ADHD, as I understand it, is a disorder. And I might be wrong, so I don’t want to speak out of turn about this, but that in a book driven to distraction, dr Hallowell kind of speaks to the notion that America itself is a ADHD culture. The way that, you know, the pursuit of happiness, one of the kind of defining principles of America lends itself to an ADHD type of a mindset. And the founding fathers, the people that you know, came to, set up their lives in, in America, you know, for a person to do that, they have to, you know, be slightly impulsive.

Joanne Scott (38:32): They have to have a certain drive about them. Be kind of like, because ADHD, you know, although we say it’s a deficit and attention deficit disorder, what it actually is is a selective attention disorder in the, people with ADHD selectively attend to kind of one thing at a time and oftentimes will very much hyper focus on one thing. And you know, hyper focusing on one thing is a good way of finding new lands, being determined to kind of like break new, uh, new ground in terms of finding new places to set up residency. And so the people that I would would be inclined to kind of leave their families travel halfway across the world to somewhere that they don’t know, probably be people that may have more of those ADHD type qualities. And then the people that would kind of come here and set up residency, you know, may be, may have more of that in them. And because it’s a genetic type of a situation, that could be one reason they think that there’s more ADHD diagnosed in the U S than anywhere else. But that’s just, one theory. ADHD is what’s called a egosyntonic with the ADHD culture. In other words, it kind of fits the culture

Darius (39:51): well. That’s really interesting. I think we need to carry on that conversation with someone who has a bit more experience on the ADHD and dyslexia differences from an assessment point of view. I’d be fascinated that. So if any of you have that experience from an assessment point of view in America, please email me and let’s get you on. Yes, let’s go onto some other questions I ask everyone. So I think you’ve kind of covered a bit about the rewards and I’m interested in talking about question five, which is, what were your most influential learning moments in this journey? Was a person, a group, a course? Was there something that you found really useful in this whole journey?

Joanne Scott (40:38): It would be so very hard for me to say that, you know, any one thing has been the most when I did my degree, I went to Nottingham, Trent university. So the way that I kind of made this big leap from dropping out of high school to getting a doctorate., It was very much in stages. And the first thing that I did was I, while I was working, I went to night school and did an access to higher education certificate. That was like the first move in that. And the access to higher education certificate that I did was for mature students and was part of something called a compact scheme where there were certain universities that were, that agreed that if you did this compact scheme you would be automatically accepted. And what had happened was, interestingly, I ended up, I was working with these adults with very severe learning disabilities.

Joanne Scott (41:37): You know, really, you know, not able to dress themselves. A lot of them are really can’t perform the tasks of daily living. And what I kind of realized in some ways is, you know, this binary thing that I’m talking about, this kind of smart or stupid, they had, you know, a certain smartness about them. A lot of these people, their intelligence was demonstrated to me a lot in their ability to really live in the moment. If you put music on, they dance a lot of them and be very happy, be very happy with what they were, you know, with their external circumstances or whatever joy was in the moment. They were able to kind of really, enjoy the joy in the moment. In a way that, uh, suggested to me like a certain type of intelligence. And then, uh, along that, along the way I ended up working, I left that job and I went to those two students, both at universities, both at very good universities, uh, where at university was one of them.

Joanne Scott (42:39): And Nottingham university was another on separate occasions. They weren’t like a combined situation, but I spent a year working with each of these students who were disabled and within my kind of role I was going to lectures with them. I was helping them with their, you know, the, the tasks that they were not able to do because they were in wheelchairs. And for the first time I was kind of exposed to these other students cause I was living in halls of residence. I was exposed to these other students who I’d always believed to be so incredibly intelligent. I felt like university was such a thing that I could never aspire to because I had imagined that these people were so incredibly outside of my league. And I was, you know, socializing with these other students and kind of noticed the stupidity about them in this, like this binary thing that, you know, I had going on.

Joanne Scott (43:33): I noticed that, you know, although they had the academic grades and you know, obviously had A in intelligence, there was something that was kind of sometimes lacking in, in their general intelligence or has I perceived it, you know, it’s not fair to say that they know nobody’s stupid or intelligent, but you know, that there was this gray area that I was starting to become aware of. You know, that started to kind of stand out to me that what, what we see and what we determined as being smart or not is, is not really not necessarily what actually is. And so,

Darius (44:08): okay, so you, so you’ve gone through a couple of years of this with different students and you’ve changed your recalibrated, your expectations of the kind of students that go to university and you starting to think maybe I’m smart enough for uni.

Joanne Scott (44:23): Exactly. Or maybe I’m stupid enough for Uni. So then, yeah, when, when I started the compact scheme that I, I, I finished that year of access to higher education. I entered on a compact scheme to get into Nottingham, Trent university. And I was accepted. I got diagnosed within the first year and that, that diagnosis was everything to me. They, they were so, so very good to me at Nottingham, Trent university at that time. In terms of the accommodations, I can’t say I, I think I was just so fortunate that I, and I don’t know if it would still be true to this day, whether students with disabilities get, there’s much support, but they gave me a computer, they gave me software for reading. They gave me a scanner, they gave me Dictaphone. They get paid for somebody to sit with me and help me just to schedule out my week, like once a week.

Darius (45:24): I know for sure that’s happening right now because my daughter’s up in, Dundee university, an art school and she’s just being given, uh, a new computer and a scanning pen and dictation software, mind mapping software. And all the rest of it. And also funds to pay for someone to do all the scheduling and so on. so yeah, it’s still happening and uh, it, it’s much more common in universities to do that. I think they ended up spending about two and a half thousand pounds per student on some students allowances. Yeah.

Joanne Scott (46:02): I’m so very happy to hear that. It made the world difference to me. They, and these, the software was, was lovely. That was really nice. But it really was the, the people that kind of, that I, that I had access to. So, you know, I had support. Yeah. I had this man sit with me once a week, helped me to sort of, his role was to schedule for me, like to help me to kind of figure out my schedule. I had therapy, you know, and I still to this day, you know, have a therapist and that’s been invaluable really in me determining these, you know, distinctions about this, this kind of sense of being clever or stupid, you know, that helping me to pull that apart and understand the many shades in between. They also, they had a lady sit with me and read over my work for me, like help me to kind of organize it, you know, separate from the guy that sat with me or helped me to kind of figure out my schedule. She met with me once, I was like ready to hand in assignments and she kind of proof read for me.

Darius (47:09): Can you imagine what it would be like to have that when you were 11 instead of 23? I mean, that’s what I think, you know, I’ve been through similar situations to you. I won’t re we tell the story but it’s in other podcasts. Well actually I’ve never actually told the story properly. I should do a podcast on that. But the point is that imagine if you could get that when you’re 11. I mean, it’s incredible that you get this great support when you get to university. How many dyslexic people never get there because you know, they didn’t persist. Like my goodness, you go to night school for those. That time with you, you end up helping other people and you get to 10 years later, nearly eight years later after leaving high school, you get to the point where your other contemporaries were at, you know, took extra five years to get to the same kind of point at least. And, that’s just a common story throughout. Something’s got to change. That’s one of my passions is that I think if you got half an hour, 25 minutes one-to-one coaching when you were 10 years old on study skills for dyslexia, visual study skills management, study skills, executive function type skills for a year with a, with a system you could do school so much better.

Joanne Scott (48:39):  Right? For sure. It would have been, it would have been life changing. And, and for, for me and for my story, you know, I guess I’ve kind of, I hope that I’ve reached a kind of a, a place of acceptance, the reality is that the passion that I have for what I do has kind of really evolved in time alongside this process that I’ve, this journey I’ve been on. And so,, I totally agree with you that to have those things at a young age would have been life changing. And I also feel that not having them has given me a different take in the world. You know, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s given me something that I wouldn’t have had otherwise and you know, from a sort of a belief about the, by the, the world operates point of view, you know, I believe I needed to have that experience, you know, that the world needed that me to be birthed in that way.

Darius (49:36): Yeah. Okay. Well we better keep moving on because you need to leave soon. Your son is champing at the bit to get to school right now, but I’ve got a few quick questions. What was your experience of mind mapping in that journey? Did you learn how to mind map? Do you mind map?

Joanne Scott (49:53): I, I do not mind map I and in fact, to be honest, the only exposure that I might, my children have learned mind mapping in, in first grade at school here they teach mind mapping as part of the curriculum. And you know, that was really my first kind of exposure to it. And then hearing the way that you’ve discussed it on the program, you know, I’ve, I’ve been exposed to it a little bit more and you know, I’m excited to learn more about it to be honest because I think it would be, it’s the way that my mind tends to conceptualize the patients. You know, the clients that I have in front of me, I tend to like be able to see like a little map over their heads of, you know, various parts of their lives and how it fits together. You know, that’s, I think one thing that I’m very grateful for about the way that my mind works is that I can pull in some very spurious pieces of data and like weave it into part of a collective narrative about the person. You know, I can pull from here and pull from there and make a, you know, see something as a complete picture. So I’m excited to kind of understand more about how I can do that by writing it down notes like how I can make notes to kind of do that visually.

Darius (51:01): I should get you hooked up with one of our coaches to do a demo, one of the free demos that we do, two half hour sessions and she’ll show you how to pull up my, you and your son, you know, get you hooked up. Okay. And if there’s anyone else listening, you know, you can get a free demo of the bullet map method of mind-mapping, just one sheet of paper, pen and paper. You can organize your thoughts creatively and go to bulletmapacademy.com and you’ll see down the bottom of that page a free trial. You can just log in and see a demo of bullet mapping. Very welcome to do that. Next thing, what advice would you give your teenage self if you sent yourself a card back in time? What would it say? On the front of the card and on the inside? Back to Joanne, the 13 year old.

Joanne Scott (51:51): Oh my gosh, what would it sign? The front of the card I open here, I would have a big arrow. This is how you open this card because the, you know, in truly like for a long time my opening cards was a very hard thing for me that I did not know how to access, how to get inside. So big arrow to open and wow really? I mean it has to be about self-compassion. It has to be about and, and this, and I do want to stress that this is like an evolving process. This is not a journey concluded in terms of trying to understand and can continue to turn to myself with compassion when I continue to make these extremely silly mistakes. You know, the things that I can see that should not have happened. You know, I should not have mixed that time up. I should not have, you know, I should be there at 11:10 not 10 past 11 as a stranger that these things

Darius (52:49): for someone who is so competent in one area to suddenly be so incompetent in another area and to suddenly say, why am I so incompetent this, when I’m so competent at that? That’s such extremes.

Joanne Scott (53:05): It really, it really is. You put it beautifully. Like it’s, it’s a very, it’s confusing and you know, very much more confusing when you don’t have a diagnosis or a thing to kind of ground you around that. So it would have been an easier ride for me. And I have, you know, very good supportive parents, you know, who, would have very much not ever wanted me to, you know, struggle in this way or to have, you know, nobody was telling me I was stupid except for myself, you know, it never, it did. And of course the careers adviser.

Darius (53:43): So What advice would you give yourself as a parent in the future? Let’s say your son in the future when he’s 13. What, what letter, what card would you send to yourself in relation to yourself as a parent?

Joanne Scott (54:01): So the, the interesting thing, you know, that the, advice that I would give to all parents in this is, is the, you can’t, you can’t give self-compassion to your children. You, you have to live it, you have to give self compassion to yourself. And I, I think that for a lot of parents, when their children are diagnosed, they, kind of go into their own shame spiral of, Oh my gosh, this child’s been struggling all this time for so long and I’ve not seen this struggle. And you know, what kind of a parents to have not seen the struggle and how sad it is. And so they kind of get caught up into their own spiral of shame, which, you know, your child watches that and you can’t be saying to yourself, you know what a terrible parent am I for not knowing this and saying to little Jimmy. Look Little Jimmy, this is okay, you’ve got this, you’re smart. You know, we can, it doesn’t, it doesn’t translate. You really have to, for parents, they have to pull it back to themselves and say, Oh my gosh, you know, I’m so sad that I didn’t see this in my child earlier on and how hard this is for me now to kind of bring it back to themselves and to recognize it now I’m doing to do the best I can, but I couldn’t know what I didn’t know before.

Darius (55:22): Hmm. We could call this podcast discovering the shame spiral of dyslexia and ADHD.

Joanne Scott (55:28): We die. We definitely could. Shame and self compassion. They have, uh, they’re, you know, they’re uniquely related.

Darius (55:33): Sure. Shame and compassion. Yeah, a bit. I’d be interesting. Okay. Final question, tools and gadgets for organizing yourself or your dyslexia, your ADHD. Are there any favorite tools or gadgets you use?

Joanne Scott (55:48): I think part of my contrariness or bloody mindedness perhaps is that, you know, I’ve very much not been engaging in the things that could be really make my life a lot easier up until very recently. And, and this is going to sound very banal, but like my favorite gadget right now is my appointment book because for some unknown reason I had this notion that I should be able to remember all my clients, my clients appointments,

Darius (56:19): recipe for disaster for anyone.

Joanne Scott (56:25): Yeah. So, uh, you know, having an appointment book in my life, you know, remarkably more streamlined.

Darius (56:32): Well, brilliant. Joanne, I know that your son’s waiting to get to school, so we’ll let you go. Any final words?

Joanne Scott (56:40): Yeah, I will say, I will say this, I did write this poem down. So it’s a very short poem. It’s by a man called Rudy Francisco, I hope I pronounce that right. And he says, perhaps we should love ourselves, so fiercely that when others see us, they know exactly how it should be done. I, you know, I would like to offer that to, to you know, your students and parents are like, you know, the, the other that seeing us, you know, you if you’re a parent and the other that seeing you is your child. So, so really to, to kind of to be able to recognize that, you know, it’s not easy to feel child to kind of go through school with these extra issues. And it’s not easy to be the parent of a child that’s going through school, whether these extra issues and, and it really doesn’t make it any easier if you’re hard on yourselves along the way. So you know, it’s about self love and self compassion, really about kind of being able to just offer yourself that grace of doing the best that you can. Really.

Darius (57:41): What a wonderful note to leave on, Joanne. Thank you very much. That was Dr Joanne Scott. Thank you very much. Congratulations as well on getting your license. psychology, what should I say? License license. Anyway, you, your practice over in orange County. How did people find you? By the way, if they want to get some help from you,

Joanne Scott (58:05): you know what you said. How do people find you? I was going to say very strange. They find me very strange. But you didn’t mean that you meant how do they actually

Darius (58:12): yeah. Yeah, like Instagram, email. We’ll put, we’ll put the contact details in the show notes, but why don’t you share with a few folk how they might be able to contact you. If you want,

Joanne Scott (58:22): you can email me dr.joannescott@gmail.com so it’s doctor as in D, R. dot. J O A N N A S C O T T@gmail.com. Great. Thanks. Thanks for coming on. Thank you so much. Thank you.

Darius (58:43): This podcast is brought to you by bullet map Academy. We help children organize their thoughts creatively and unlock their dyslexic potential with the world’s first online dyslexia school for study skills. We have a talk about my mapping and dyslexia that will help you find ways to help your child keep up with friends at school and overcome that feeling of isolation. If you want to hear this, talk and hear about what we do, go to www.bulletmap academy.com/webinar or click on the link in the show notes. Thank you for listening. Please like and leave a podcast review so other parents can find it. Visit our website and join our newsletter for updates that bullet map, academy.com. Thanks for listening. See you next time.

Listen to the podcast episode now

Want to listen to more dyslexia stories? Click here to subscribe to our podcast, Dyslexia Explored.

Links you might want to go:

Dr. Scottt’s email: dr.joannescott@gmail.com

Dr. Scott’s Psychology Today Profile: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/joanne-scott-irvine-ca/168082

Richard Branson Story: https://bulletmapstudio.com/bransonnetprofit/ 

What is ADHD: https://www.understood.org/en/learning-thinking-differences/child-learning-disabilities/add-adhd/what-is-adhd 

What is dyslexia: https://mindmapstudio.com/what-is-dyslexia/

BulletMap Academy webinar: https://mindmapstudio.com/webinar


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