In early May of this year, I attended a presentation on positive Psychology, one of the monthly meetings organised by the Brighton and Hove Psychology Networking group. During this interactive and highly engaging session we were asked to turn to our neighbour and discuss, ‘identify and talk about one of your strengths.’
Without hesitation, repetition or deviation, I turned to my neighbour and said, ‘random creativity.’ A phrase that has been rattling around in my head for a few months now. Something that I believe is a direct result of my Dyslexia and something that I am only just starting to take ownership of. It’s the way I can creatively put seemingly random ideas and approaches together. My best ideas emerge when I am daydreaming and allowing my mind to wander.
I haven’t yet had myself formally assessed, but it seems highly probable that I’m Dyslexic, given my history at school and some of the things I continue to struggle with. It’s taken a surprisingly long time for the penny to drop 😉, given that our daughter was assessed as being Dyslexic three years ago. In my relief at having a definite diagnosis for our daughter and the report we could present to her school; I didn’t stop to think about the how and the why. I didn’t stop to think that Dyslexia is generally inherited, rather than acquired.
The realisation only fully hit when I joined a writing group in 2017 and noticed in our discussions that I’d simply not read as widely as most of the others in the group. My suspicions were further aroused by the feedback I was getting about my written work. After gaining three degrees, it’s the first time I’ve had my writing reviewed in this way.
So as an interim measure I paid a visit to the British Dyslexia Association website and took a few online assessments, the results of which seem to indicate that I may well be Dyslexic. I won’t know for certain until I have myself fully assessed by a trained specialist. To access their site, please click here: https://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/
But now as I look back I think I can see some of the ways Dyslexia has impacted my life over the years:
- I know I had trouble with reading at junior school and was pulled out of all my other classes, so I could be taught individually by Miss Shaw. I don’t remember how long it took, but this approach worked for me. I learnt to read and moved on.
- I never fully learnt my times table at junior school, despite being made to stand up and recite them with the rest of the class. I could learn the rhythm and move my lips along in time with everyone else, so unless the teacher came up really close she would never have known.
- Without a pen and paper in my hand, I can struggle with spelling and as for mental arithmetic, forget it.
- I kind of know my alphabet.
- Over the years I developed techniques for building in the extra time and space I needed to prepare and process information. Really needed this in the final year of my engineering degree, when it seemed we were being hit by a tsunami of assignments.
- At the start of my working life, I’m sure it affected my performance on graduate assessment/screening programmes. I generally did well at interview but could never quite get through the timed written tests.
- It took me seven attempts to pass my driving test, each time getting a little better, but I needed that extra time.
- I love writing, but I’m not a writer who can produce long flowing prose that fits seamlessly together. I write in chunks I write the scenes as I see and hear them in my head.
- My creativity, what I would now refer to as ‘my random creativity’, my quirky way of putting things together, I’m sure stems from my Dyslexia. I may not always spot or notice what’s obvious to everyone else but pick up on the ridiculous and the oddly out of place.
- I am easily distracted and put off by long, complex, over descriptive prose. Often I need to read over a piece of text more than once to get to the meaning. There are times when words just don’t make sense. Might well be why I often re-read books, once only doesn’t tend to work for me.
- Today I can honestly say that reading is still not my favourite pastime, I find it tiring and a bit of a strain. Particularly when I’m having to read and make sense of things in a hurry. Large chunks of densely packed text are a real turn off and I can find myself skipping over it if it’s not grabbing my attention. In short, reading is and always will be quite hard work, luckily for me I love learning, and this is the payoff.
- I can never compose an email in one take, though this is probably a blessing.
- If I don’t make the effort to concentrate I can find myself ‘zoning out’ in busy and noisy environments. This can be problematic especially when I’m supposed to be networking and when linked with my ability to daydream at the drop of a hat.
- Will, on occasion stumble over my words when speaking or having to read aloud.
My Dyslexia has been in the background all my life, quietly driving me on. I successfully studied for three degrees because I needed to prove to myself that I wasn’t stupid. Every time I embarked on any form of major study I followed the same pattern, started out ‘sh*t and got better’. Almost as though my brain needed a bit of time to warm up.
So, almost two years on, as I embrace my Dyslexia, I’m looking for the opportunities and the strengths I can draw from it. And the big one for me is most definitely my random creativity, though quite what I’ll do with it, remains to be seen.
My random creativity shows up I think more in my writing and perhaps in my coaching. If you want to find out more, look at:
Stories directly related to my work as a career coach:- careerresilience
Stories directly related to life and my random, take on it:- pittabread
Short stories directly related to whatever pops into my head:-shortstoriesblogger
So, there you have it, until next time.
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