Dyslexia – We kinda get it
What is dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a learning difficulty primarily affecting the skills required for accurate and fluent word reading and spelling. It can also include challenges with short term memory, information processing and time keeping. Common dyslexic strengths are – great communicators, creative innovators, big picture thinkers and an eye for design.
When I was first diagnosed with dyslexia, I cried. This wasn’t because it came as a shock or that it was upsetting, but because it felt totally right. Suddenly, everything that I had struggled with in the past made complete sense and it felt like a huge relief more than anything.
I feel the biggest challenge I often come across is people not knowing, understanding or even just assuming what dyslexia really means. For me, it’s not a burden or a hardship as might be assumed, but something that means I process information differently, just as everyone speaks differently and thinks differently. That’s not to say I don’t have day to day struggles. For example, at work, I’ve come across challenges such as data input, reading and even the anxiety of sending an email whereby I know the likelihood of making an error or misreading the contents of a previous email is higher than most. However, what might be assumed as my personal challenges, are also just the challenges of living in a world which often does not accommodate and support different ways of learning and processing information.
Dyslexia and other neurodiverse conditions are often seen within the light of being a negative defect from the norm; a personal barrier to effective learning and working. Not only does this sentiment wrongly place sole responsibility for challenges faced on the person in hand, but it also suggests that it’s a problem and setback. I’ve learnt that in many ways dyslexia is also my biggest strength. I can generate ideas, proactively solve problems and think creatively in ways that others can’t. These are all skills associated with dyslexia.
In fact, I’m far from being that different. It’s estimated that 10-15% of the population are neurodiverse. But often it’s something that is not openly discussed, recognised and in many cases is undiagnosed or hidden. The act of even exposing yourself as neurodiverse often comes at the cost of others prejudice or blind judgment, let alone the support and accommodation it warrants. It’s everyone’s responsibility to create an environment whereby difference can be made visible, supported and celebrated. Learning to embrace this aspect of me and having others see and embrace that too, has probably been my biggest challenge to overcome with dyslexia.
Now, far from just being relieved that I have a term to understand things I’ve struggled with, dyslexia is also something that I’m learning to embrace and be immensely proud of. It’s something that’s just part of me. And that part of me also holds all the qualities about myself that I love the most.