Those of us in this industry love a stat, so what do these groups of people all have in common?
• A fifth of the UK population
• Four in 10 people who work at GCHQ
• Half of the prison population
• 35% of entrepreneurs
• And 100% of my children?
They all have dyslexia.
I find those stats both astonishing and heart breaking, but they tell you everything you need to know about how hard it is to be dyslexic. The kids in school who assume the position of the stupid kids, the ones who are the square pegs, the ones who have all the same potential as anyone else but just learn differently and our Victorian school system doesn’t have the resources to support that. You can see how they begin to believe this narrative, after they fail spelling tests week in week out, have had to sit SATS and fail, GCSEs and fail…it takes a strong child to still have belief in themselves.
Then there’s the entrepreneurs, the inventors, the spies! It’s fascinating that that such a disproportionate percentage of these brilliant individuals are dyslexic. My kids hate it when I throw them Richard Branson, Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Jamie Oliver, Kiera Knightley, Tom Holland, Steve Jobs…but there must be a sliding doors moment for them.
what do they do differently to discover their superpower?
I have researched so much about this subject and the difference seems to be that they found that ‘thing’ they were good at and focused on that.
I have learnt from my children that dyslexics see things differently, the big patterns in data (amazing for my job and also at GCHQ I imagine), they are often creative, adventurous, sporty or brilliant with people (my daughter’s ability to read a room at 13 years old is incredible and often very annoying). It’s extremely common for dyslexics to have above average intelligence, but they can also have slower processing speed so might need that minute longer to think it through, but the answer will be brilliant and worth waiting for.
I could waffle forever about this subject, but I don’t want this to be a rant, I want to share something useful, some tips on how we can all help / support those around us with dyslexia:
• Check out Made by Dyslexia – this woman is my hero. She has helped reframe dyslexia as a superpower, a skill recognised on LinkedIn as it spreads through the business community as something to look out for and appreciate
• Use technology to iron out the tricky parts – Windows 365 has loads of great Apps – Grammarly / Immersive reader / LENS are a few of my favourites and I’m excited where AI is going to take us on this journey
• Understand how people learn / take in information (Visual / Auditory / Reading / Kinaesthetic) and support them with presenting information in all forms (take note Education Secretary, this works for kids too)!
As much as I wish I could change the support our kids get in school for any kind of learning difference, that’s a huge ship to turn but we can all try and look at this differently. Let’s recognise the skills someone with dyslexia can bring and support with the things that are tricky. There’s no doubt it’s a struggle to keep up the self-esteem of a child faced with this every day, but they need to know once they are in the real word there are so many opportunities for them. I, for one, am looking forward to having a spy in the family!