by Annie Hitchman
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that being dyslexic is so much more than struggling with reading and writing. Being dyslexic means that you think and process information on the right side of your brain, instead of the left side, where neurotypical people think. This means that where neurotypical people have strengths in analytics, language, and numbers, which is on the left side of the brain, dyslexic people have strengths in creativity, problem-solving, ideas, and intuition, which is on the right side of the brain.
Not only challenges but a gift
Growing up, my only idea of dyslexia was that it gave me challenges in reading and writing, but once I discovered that it actually gave me my greatest assets and unique parts of my personality, it changed everything. I realised it was actually a gift.
I now use it to come up with ideas for the marketing team at MacIntyre and create videos, graphics, and social media strategies to help show how great it is to work in social care. I’m able to think three-dimensionally and problem-solve fast due to my right-brain thinking.
A neurodiverse working environment
It is so important to have a neurodiverse working environment, just the same as it is to have a diverse gender, racial and cultural group of people in the workplace. Bringing a melting pot of perspectives, experiences, and skills to MacIntyre makes sure everyone feels seen and heard. As an example, a document with lots of words will not be as easy to process for a neurodiverse person with dyslexia as a document with pictures and diagrams. If I had understood my dyslexia earlier I would have avoided many struggles at work and in my life.
Difficulties and a diagnosis
I was diagnosed dyslexic when I was 20 in my last two weeks of university. I had always known something wasn’t right, I always struggled in school but the feelings of embarrassment and shame, like most dyslexics, mean you mask in order to fit in and keep going. I had the courage one day to tell my English teacher in sixth form that I thought I may be dyslexic and she replied that I was 'just lazy’. This is a common experience for people who fall through the cracks, where an early diagnosis is missed. When this happens it creates a lot of anxiety and fear later on in life around learning due to the risk of humiliation or embarrassment.
Two weeks after my diagnosis at university, with no support, I managed to graduate with a first class degree. It was what I needed to show me no matter my dyslexic challenges I can still succeed, which is true for all dyslexic people. I think the key to living a happy life as a dyslexic person is fully understanding your strengths and challenges and how you can navigate and communicate them. You are then more likely to push forward, try new things, and be confident talking about your dyslexia to your colleagues, friends, and peers. Remember, dyslexia has nothing to do with your intelligence, only the way you process information.
Challenges and strengths of dyslexia
There are many challenges with dyslexia that are worth understanding so you can lean on your strengths to make life easier and more fulfilling. If you are dyslexic, diagnosed or undiagnosed, the following may resonate with you:
- Short Term Memory- You forget things easily
- Anxiety and difficulty reading out loud
- Difficulty spelling and anxiety spelling publicly
- Delayed speech, or jumbling words
- Easily overwhelmed or stressed
- Trouble learning a foreign language
- Close links to ADHD and Dyspraxia
- May have low self-esteem developed from school and early years
- Vivid imagination and visual thinking
- Solving complicated problems fast
- Identifying similarities among multiple things
- Good at making connections with people
- Intuitive understanding of how things work
- Abstract ideas- coming up with new ways
Be proud and confident!
I would advise that you to talk to your line manager about what style of working helps to get the most out of your day, look at what reasonable adjustments there are, and how they can help you reach your potential, feel fulfilled at work and avoid overwhelm and stress. Your neurodiversity is something to be championed at MacIntyre and it will bring so many assets to the workforce.
Be proud and confident, you are unique!