Should teachers give extra help to students with aphantasia?

Hi, I’m Ducky and I have multi-sensory aphantasia ^^

I can only imagine sounds or voices or music or songs in my mind, sometimes with control over it but mostly I can’t control it and I also can’t imagine a sound I have never heard before.

When I was in secondary school (aka Highschool) I had a hard time in maths and sometimes english because I was just slower than everyone else – I couldn’t focus on reading the books we were assigned to read without watching a movie adaptation first as all of the details describing things would bore me and were seen as unnecessary to me as I didn’t understand that people could actually world build in their heads – Or with maths, I was slower as I couldn’t visualise a 3D shape and then tell you how many points it had or I had to physically write down all of my equations as I couldn’t do too much mental maths as I would get lost and needed the numbers there physically to figure out where I was in the equation. Little did I know throughout the first couple years of highschool, I had aphantasia and others could actually SEE the equations in their head and do the mental maths fully as they could see the numbers or just calculate it quicker as their brains were wired to do that. People could world build so focusing on reading a book was so easy to the point they could get lost in it and could easily recall a small detail like the shape of a character’s nose or other things. Some things like spelling could be an issue as people without aphantasia (I assume) can just imagine the word and change the letters at will and I had to write down on a piece of paper the alternate spellings. Art was sometimes a struggle as people would need WAY less references than me and were able to just start drawing a face or something else without planning ahead while I had to plan the face shape physically, try colours together to see if they paired nicely whereas others could just see it in their head and test the colours mentally and I was stuck wasting time doing it physically. I believe that if my school provided extra time (which they did once because I took a test that showed I needed extra time but then they took it away from me after I took the EXACT same test again so I remembered the answers making me finish quicker making me appear normal) I would have been given the same opportunities that other students had. I don’t believe that aphantasia is always a learning disability but it proved to me to be a learing difficulty as I couldn’t achieve the same as my peers when given the same amount of time but if they provided me with a little more time, I could achieve the same, if not better results. I remember in my English exam I took quite a while just blocking out a narrative and planning it out as I couldn’t world build so creating something new based off of a vague prompt was slightly more difficult (Luckily I still earned myself a grade 8 which is about a B). Thankfully creating narratives isn’t too hard as I love movies so I can understand plots and tropes and add them to my own narratives and also I can mimic the details and descriptions that other authors use in a way that makes it appear that I could see this picture in my head and I was painting it in the reader’s head. Anyway, I also had a bit of a road bump when I  had to do another english exam, this time about literature; part of the exam was reading paragraphs and then having to answer questions about it and I took so much time having to go back and read the text over and over again as with no visual ways to help me remember details I had to spend a lot of my time reading text over and over again (it was a miracle that I also achieved a grade 8 on that exam too, I have no idea how I pulled it off, I don’t even remember actually finishing all of the questions). I didn’t do too well on any of my maths exams (luckily I passed with the lowest passing grade) because of this visualisation issue – I remember filling the pages given for your working out and equations on it and I remember having a weird way of calculating the answer (probably due to another issue that I haven’t addressed like possible ADHD or Autism, I should really talk to my psychiatrist about a possible diagnosis).

This just got wayyyyyy too long heheh sorry, back to what you actually came here for: Should teachers give extra help to students with aphantasia? I believe that yes, they should, if I had extra time or something physical to better help me visualise as my fellow students could just visualise in their mind, I believe I would have had more equal opportunities and wouldn’t have struggled as much in my studies. I believe that not EVERY person with aphantasia will need extra help but if a student brings up their concerns about their aphantasia affecting their learning experience then there should be a discussion about what can be put in place to give the student equal learning opportunities. But that’s just my opinion based on how I wish my school would have helped me with my aphantasia. I clearly still did well in school despite it and I still love art when it’s not on a time limit and I can give myself all of the resources that I need but what do you all think? I’d love to hear all of your thoughts and feelings about this topic so feel free to share them and I’ll try to read them all when I have the time and I hope this can bring up a great discussion in the comments whether it’s with me or with each other.

Have a nice day, night, afternoon, or whatever it may be ^^

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My short answer would be no. This question could literally be asked about any type of thinking or learning differently. Should teachers give someone with ADHD, or color blindness, or an introvert, or someone who isn’t physically fit, or dyslexia, extra help or time? Most people struggle in one way or another. Teachers can’t be expected to know about and accommodate everyone with a different way of thinking or learning. In the end, they would still just be spending the same amount of time with each student, because everyone is different. That being said, my long answer is yes, someone with Aphantasia could qualify for extra help from teachers. But I would put the responsibility on the person, or person’s family, who has aphantasia. I would encourage anyone who has difficulty learning, to work with that teacher, and with school counselors, to come up with a way that they can be successful. Obviously a color blind person in an art class needs help. Someone who isn’t physically fit in a P.E. class can be helped with a routine that fits their abilities, and can still help them grow. ADHD, dyslexia, and others all have struggles that teachers can learn to help with. No one is alone in being different, and everyone should take some personal responsibility to be successful. 

Not so much extra help but be more understanding of differences in the way poeples minds work. I’d like to think that things are better nowadays than when I went to school in the 70’s. I remember once the whole class getting punished because I “refused” to take part in a class objective I was actually incapable of doing.