My school report would always read “sometimes lazy”, “he’s a daydreamer”, “could do better” and on the same report read “very good student”, “very creative”, “excellent at PE”, “learns well with hands-on tasks.”
That was the problem back at the time. Teachers weren’t as educated on dyslexia as they are nowadays. The, “he’s lazy” would always be the lasting message my parents came away with.
After getting the school reports, I always remember thinking I’m not lazy (although sometimes I could be) but I couldn’t put my finger on why I avoided things. I always had it in the back of my mind that I didn’t want anyone to think I was “dumb” and I always remember feeling second class to the “brainy” kids.
Being diagnosed with Dyslexia
Unchecked, dyslexia can affect your self-esteem, but once you put a name on it, a weight is lifted off your shoulders and you can literally do anything you want. When I found out that I had it (which wasn’t until I got checked in college) I was so frustrated that I didn’t know when I was a kid! What a difference it would have made!
I remember the lady who did the test telling me about famous people that had the condition… Einstein, Picasso, Richard Branson, Spielberg, and Magic Johnston (I was basketball crazy). Jesus, these people hit home with me because I could relate to them. I didn’t have the self-inflicted pressure that “I wasn’t going to amount to anything” because I was slower than everyone at reading and writing. If these guys can reach the top, there’s nothing that would stop me. Strangely, I also felt part of an elite club.
Later I found out Steve Jobs had dyslexia, I’m “apple washed” so I needn’t tell you that I fully geeked out at this point.
Despite all the frustrations of growing up with dyslexia, I wouldn’t change it and if I was given the option of not having it at all I wouldn’t take it. Dyslexia has contributed to who I am, given me the characteristics I have today, and I’d like to think shaped my personality and outlook on the world.
Dyslexia & the job hunt
How we work is an ever-changing landscape and technology is further evolving the way we work! For me, especially working in recruitment (and with my characteristics) I think people with dyslexia have a number of gifts such as greater spatial awareness, the ability to pull out what information is important, visual thinking, and a greater understanding of how things work.
If you have dyslexia and are looking to start your career, Sales is an area where people with dyslexia tend to excel (remember me as a kid, “the spokesperson.”) Our personalities tend to connect quickly, and this is a trait that makes a good salesperson, regardless of industry.
We are also a creative bunch, I’m a keen photographer, so design, graphic design, architecture or photography may be an area that you can explore.
We’re hands on people too. I always remember wanting to drop out of school to be a carpenter. Pick up a trade, put your time into a good apprenticeship and you will have unbelievable job satisfaction!
Managing dyslexia at work
Once you’re working, and as you get older, dyslexia doesn’t really have the same impact as it might have had in school. Reading and understanding work documents is always going to be important but one brilliant method that was passed onto me is SQ35 OR Read, Remember Review.
- Scan – look through the text quickly for keywords, not ignoring any illustrations, diagrams or graphs. Important information is often highlighted in a text box or in bold or italics.
- Question – ask yourself what information you hope to get from your reading.
- Read – read the text fully.
- Remember – write down the main points.
- Review – read again to check if you have remembered correctly.
Reading for work can be more pressurised than reading for pleasure. It is important to get the facts right, to remember the relevant information and understand what’s expected. Highlight the key text, review, remember, and all will be ok…
A final note
Don’t ever feel ashamed of having dyslexia, embrace it and let people know you have it. You are part of a unique group of people that lead the world in technology, arts, building, architecture and design and many more industries.
Lastly, remember, for everything else, there’s spell check…Sure hasn’t this blog been through 5 proofs already.