Monday, May 3, 2021

Video Blog #14 – 7 Revision Tips To Boost Your Exam Performance

In this video blog we cover 7 Revision Tips To Boost Your Exam Performance.



A2B Assessments

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Friday, April 2, 2021

What is Autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder is an umbrella term used to describe a group developmental disabilities resulting from differences in the brain.  The condition affects how a person thinks, feels and interacts with the world.  Neurodiverse is another way to describe people with autism. This is opposed to neurotypical, which is often used in the autistic community to describe people not on the spectrum. While it is important to realise that no two autistic people are the same, there are some attributes of autism that are common among many autistic people.

What are some of the characteristics of autism?

Fascination with certain things

Some people with ASD can have an intense fascination with certain things they are interested in. This could be anything from abstract things such as stories or music to concrete objects such as books, cups and plates. The object of fascination varies between different autistic people. But it can lead to them knowing everything there is to know about the subject. These fascinations could last from weeks to months, or throughout their entire lives.

Discomfort with social interaction

Autistic individuals may have difficulties in sharing their emotions or interests socially. Children may have subtle problems such as looking down or not making eye contact during conversations. Adults may not indulge in communication that is based away from their interests. Some autistic individuals may also show contradictory facial expressions during conversations.

Difficulty with rules

Some autistic children or adults may struggle with following rules and guidelines. Experts believe this can be caused by the intense focus or passion that is common among people with autism. Autistic people can find comfort in following a routine and experiencing a sudden change of routine, or schedule, can cause anxiety and mood swings. In some cases, those without autism or awareness can misinterpret this attribute and liken it to stubbornness.

Sensory problems

Some people with ASD may have difficulties with sensory overload. For example, children may close their eyes when faced with certain colours or noise. Others may tap their legs repetitively as a way of calming themselves. The underlying principle is that some autistic people can be hypersensitive. Most of the time, they suffer an overload of sensation, which may force them to seek external outputs as a means of self-regulation. For example, some people with ASD may find it easier to wear headphones while trying to study to block out other distractions.


How to communicate effectively with autistic people

Address the person just as you would anyone else

People with autism are intelligent individuals, address them like you would any other adult or however they would prefer to be addressed.

Say what you mean

It is advisable to keep your statements less vague, more transparent and literal. That way, you limit the chances of miscommunication.

Listen carefully

Taking time to listen carefully to what the person is saying, this can help show that you do care and are supportive of them.

Maintain calmness

It’s bad practice to exhibit anxiety and worries while addressing an autistic person. Try to demonstrate calmness as it gives room for more conversation.

Language to use when talking about someone with Autism

This is a heavily debated topic in the ASD community.  With some disabilities such as physical disabilities it is generally best practice to use person first language.  For example you would say “person in a wheelchair” rather than a “wheelchair person”.  This is because rather than defining people primarily by their disability, people-first language emphasises the individuality, equality and dignity of people with disabilities.  However many people with Autism don’t see autism as a “disability” and rightly so. Therefore it can actually be empowering to use the phrase autistic person rather than person with autism.  If dealing with someone personally it is always best to respect their own preference. Further reading on this.


Autistic people throughout history

Because it is hard to diagnose anyone retrospectively, all the people listed below may not have been on the Autistic Spectrum.  However,  Prof Michael Fitzgerald of Dublin’s Trinity College , who is an acclaimed Psychologist specialising in ASD believes that the following people all had strong autistic traits.

Charles Darwin

With Darwin’s intense focus, which led to the discovery of evolution. Darwin achieved a nobel prize for his groundbreaking discovery, which changed the face of scientific evolution.

Vincent Van Gogh

Among the world’s greatest painters. Vincent made incredible paints which leave us speechless to this day.

Albert Einstein

His common attributes included intense focus, obsession with light beams, inflexibility with authority and rules, being anti-social. Despite all these, Einstein is remembered for his uncanny ability to solve puzzles and incredible humour.

Useful Links

National Autistic Society

Autism Society

The NHS page for autism

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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Video Blog #13 – 5 Productivity Tips For Students

In this video blog we have 5 productivity tips for students…

In the video we mention being able to block out distracting apps. Follow these links to see some of the tools we recommend for doing this…

Google chrome extensions to increase productivity

Freedom Distraction Blocker

Forest: Liberate yourself from your smartphone


A2B Assessments

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Thursday, February 25, 2021

People with learning disabilities prioritised for COVID Vaccine

Some good news for those with learning disabilities. The government has announced that everyone on the learning disability register will now be prioritised for a COVID-19 vaccination.

There were around 150,000 people who were not eligible for the vaccine, but who are at higher risk due to their disabilities.  These people will now be prioritised as part of group six, regardless of how severe their disability is.

The update comes after an analysis of date that shows those with a learning disability tend to suffer more severe symptoms of COVID-19.

It is advised that those with a learning disability should ensure they are on the learning disability register by ringing their GP.

The data shows that only 1 in 4 people with a learning disability are actually on their GP’s learning disability register. With 1.2 million people in the UK with a learning disability, this means that there are 900,000 people who aren’t registered. To help with this fallout, the NHS has also asked local authorities to identify any other adults severely affected by a learning disability.

Read the full Announcement.

Learn more about the DSA

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Thursday, February 18, 2021

Wim Hof Method To Improve Mental Health

Who Is Wim Hof and how can you use the Wim Hof Method to improve mental health?

Wim Hof is an extreme athlete who holds 26 official Guinness World Records, most of which are beyond comprehension to most. These include climbing 22,000 ft up Mount Everest in only shorts and shoes, remaining submerged in an ice bath for over 2 hours and running a marathon without training, in the Namibian desert; where temperatures reached 40°C; without touching a drop of water for the whole run.

Born on the 20th of April 1959, the Dutchman is also known for his remarkable ability to withstand the cold, thereby earning him the title The Iceman. 

But where does he draw his energy, resilience and inspiration to complete feats that most of us would hardly even try? He attributes it to the Wim Hof Method.

Wim Hof came up with this method after his wife committed suicide in 1995. Falling into a deep depression he found that the only thing that helped him clear his mind of negative thoughts was submerging himself in the cold.

You might be wondering why are we talking about this on the A2B blog?

Well According to The Iceman, this method can help those suffering from problems with sleep, stress, sports performance, depression and auto-immune diseases. From practicing parts of the method myself I can confidently state that a cold shower is definitely a mood booster!

What Is The Wim-Hof Method All About?

The Wim-Hof method is essentially a regimen that entails frequent exposure of the body to cold, coupled with meditation and specialised breathing techniques. 

This video explains it better that I can…


But just how does it work to improve your mental health? 

Firstly the breathing part of the method is similar to meditation. Once you are focused on your breathing you will find yourself in the present moment and less stressed about things outside of your control.

The next part of the method is getting in cold water. This increases mental resilience, thereby enabling you to withstand rather unpleasant situations longer than the average person would. Additionally, with cold therapy, your focus, willpower and concentration are also greatly increased. When you come out of a cold shower you can’t help but feel extremely positive and elevated which is due to the endorphins released by your body. 

Cold showers also improve your physical health, improving your cardiovascular system and increasing your muscle endurance.

Is The Method Backed By Any Scientific Evidence?

The Wim Hof method has lots of heavy research and scientific backing behind it. 

For full details of the studies visit –

How To Do The Wim-Hof Method Breathing

  1. Sit in a comfortable place and take thirty quick and deep breaths, taking a deep breath in and then just letting go rather than a hard breath out.
  2. Next, take a very deep breath before exhaling fully everything that is in your lungs.
  3. Once exhaled don’t breath in and hold your breath for as long as possible. Don’t push it too hard though, as soon as you need to breathe do so.
  4. When you need to breathe take a deep inhalation and hold for about 15-20 seconds.
  5. Repeat the process 3-4 times
  6. Enjoy the feeling of calm and clarity.

Or for the easiest way to experience the method follow along with the guided breathing below…


Thanks for reading and watching

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Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Microsoft Office Lens: Free Scanning App

What is Microsoft Office Lens Free Scanning App?

Microsoft Office Lens is a free mobile scanning app. As a student you can use it to create scanned copies of photos, documents, text books, whiteboards, posters, business cards and other content. It is available on both iOS and Android devices. Microsoft Lens allows users to further edit the file after scanning, convert them to other formats, and share them with other users. You do not need an Office 365 subscription or any other subscription package to assess the Microsoft Office Lens app. As long as you have a free Microsoft account, you can access this app for free.

Office Lens makes use of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) which even allows the source document to be converted into editable Word document.

Microsoft Office Lens Interface

When you open the Microsoft Office Lens app, your device’s back camera opens with a full-screen view and four content type options. You can swipe through these content options to choose your preference for the content you’re about to scan. Though the on-screen display of each content quality differs, all you have to do is press the white button in the centre of the screen, and your scanned file will be ready in a moment.

Different Content Types in Microsoft Office Lens


You can use the document option to create scanned copies of paper pages, large amounts of texts, books and posters. Using the built-in cropping tool, you can crop out other items in the background to achieve a clear image of the target document.  You can also convert the scans to editable Word documents using OCR.



Teachers and students can use the whiteboard option to create scanned copies of dry-erase or large boards. This option comes with an automated lightening for improved contrast, and the OCR feature comes in handy to make it possible for a screen reader to read the text and use the file on another application.


The Photo function is useful for taking pictures of other pictures. You may use it to create scanned copies of printed pictures, or even take new pictures. The front or selfie camera works in this mode, but it does not support the automatic cropping feature.

Business Card

This function is suitable for taking pictures of business cards or contact information and turning them into scanned copies. It is ideal for businesses and corporate individuals.

Microsoft Office Lens for those with a visual impairment.

 If you have a visually impairment you can also make use of office lens as the app supports screen reader functionality.  In this screen shot above you can see the Android reader is called immersive reader.  So you can scan handouts, text books or whiteboards using the app and then have this content read back to you. Alternatively, if you prefer to read yourself you could zoom in on the content to increase the font size.


Microsoft Office Lens is an excellent free tool and we would definitely recommended it to make your life easier when at University.

Download on the Apple App Store

Download on the Google Play Store


Visit the A2B Blog for more apps and software.

Thanks for reading,

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Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Chris Nikic’s Inspirational Story

Chris Nikic – The Iron Man

21-year-old Chris Nikic has made it into the Guinness World Record book as the first person with Down’s syndrome to complete an entire Ironman Triathlon event. According to Guinness World Records, Chris’s achievement is ‘awe-inspiring.’

The tri-athlete who hails from Florida swam 2.4 miles, cycled 112 miles, and ran a 26.2-mile marathon on the same day to complete the Ironman event. The event organised by the World Triathlon Corporation is one of the most taxing single-day sporting events in the world.

The Ironman event has been ongoing for the past 42 years, but Chris is the first athlete with Down’s syndrome to attempt and finish the event and go on to earn global recognition for his performance.

The race wasn’t all smooth sailing for Chris, who injured his knees and blood was shed when he got involved in a bike crash during his cycling. However, he didn’t let this stop him and through grit and determination he persisted on.

Chris successfully crossed the finish line after 16 hours, 46 minutes, and nine seconds, arriving 14 minutes under the official cut-off time, which was an outstanding performance.

If you are struggling to get motivated to exercise in lockdown, Chris’s moto is 1% better. Where each day he just tries to be 1% better than the last. Something most can manage. Check out his website where he has an awesome 1% better 30 day challenge you can get involved with.

Below is an emotional clip of Chris and his father discussing his journey on Theo Von’s podcast “This Past Weekend”… the full episode is also a great listen.


Thanks for reading and watching.

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