Dyslexia and Purposive Action

Purposive action can be described as a subject’s actions which are consciously taken, in order to achieve a goal. It also contains elements of agent-directedness (the person herself decides on the actions) and has some degree of agent-instigation (the person herself decides to take the actions, rather than simply following the commands of others).

Those with dyslexia can sometimes experience Executive Functioning challenges relating to purposive action. These challenges can broadly be broken down to include:

✳️ not spotting the need for action
✳️ not spotting what issues need to be addressed
✳️ not easily prioritising which issues need to be addressed in what order
✳️ finding the planning of actions difficult
✳️ instigating actions
✳️ ordering actions
✳️ following-through and finishing actions
✳️ remembering the sequences of actions to be taken
✳️ remembering what actions have been taken
✳️ switching between tasks

Actions and intentions can appear disorderly. This can often be a manifestation of the problems many dyslexic people face with sequencing, that is, sharing a common understanding of left-and-right, of number concepts, of time, and of order. The dyslexic conception of time can be quite different from the non-dyslexic conception of time.

In fact, those very thinking skills that can set people with dyslexia apart from others in a positive way can also affect the purposive action aspect of their Executive Function challenges. These skills include:

✳️ “lateral” thinking
✳️ “big picture” thinking
✳️ “inter-connected” thinking
✳️ “holistic” thinking
✳️ creativity
✳️ eccentricity of thought
✳️ synchronic, diachronic, and polychronic conceptions of time

There are strategies people with dyslexia can use to help mitigate confusionis arising from their purposive action struggles, just as there are strategies those around them can use to help.

Those with dyslexia may:

🟢 use a wall-planner or diary
🟢 use technology to set reminders for tasks and task completion
🟢 create lists with colleagues
🟢 manage their environment to create calm and quiet
🟢 communice openly at all times, reminding others that any struggles they may have are simply manifestations of what also makes their thinking valuable

Those working with dyslexics may:

🟣 communicate why something is important / prioritised
🟣 show the bigger picture
🟣 set small, easily-achievable goals
🟣 minimise emails and written instructions
🟣 send friendly reminders for any deadlines
🟣 allow for non-literary output (audio recordings, etc)
🟣 create time for reflection on goals that have been reached
🟣 communicate clearly and unambiguously
🟣 colour-code tasks and schedules
🟣 allow opportunities for working in teams and groups

And throughout all of this –

🔴 communicate, ask questions, clarify, and offer help / guidance

See for instance: