Me-I have something to say


WARNING : This article has not been spell/grammar checked!

When we give presentations or speak at conferences we frequently tell the audience that we are Dyslexic.  We do this because our Dyslexia has had a significant impact on our work. The reaction always surprises me, the audience are usually mildly shocked at such an admission and people will often tell us afterward how brave and inspirational we are. While it is very kind and lovely to be thought of as brave and inspirational the bottom line is that we have no choice about our Dyslexia and you either live with it or you don’t.

Scott and I have very different Dyslexic experiences, I was not diagnosed until I went to art school, before this I had been labeled as lazy or a non trier by many frustrated secondary school teachers.   Scott was in some respects more fortunate as he was diagnosed at a very young age, he feels however that he was given too much support and almost mollycoddled. The ways in which our Dyslexia manifests is also different, Scott finds written work difficult while I  find organisational tasks most challenging.   The common factor that unites us is that we have both always worked incredibly hard to offset  our ‘gift’ as have many others we have met.

Designers are lucky, it is widely recognised that many creatives are dyslexic, the positive side of this ‘gift’ is that we compensate using the more creative portions of our brains. We think laterally and in pictures and we visualise space very well. Both Scott and I can walk around in a design in our heads before it is drawn.  Our ‘gift’ is one of the reasons we are so passionate about inclusive design. We design for education and students span every age group, culture and learning ability. We understand that large spaces can be confusing and that not everyone reads the conventional signs and symbols so we have devised a number of subtle methods for making space legible without any of the usual institutional cliches.

Other Dyslexics who have chosen to take a more academic path are not so lucky.  We recently met someone who held a senior position in education and who confided to us in a whisper that they too were dyslexic but had kept this hidden from colleagues due to the stigma of their’gift’.  Sadly the idea that Dyslexics have lower intelligence still persists in some areas.  The truth is Dyslexia is a neurological dysfunction and is not related to intelligence level at all.  There are plenty of statistics on the number of Dyslexic art and design students, some H.E. Institutions report up to 65% and famous Dyslexics are also widely quoted, Leanardo Da Vinci, Henry Ford, Albert Einstein etc. There are also statistics which tell us of the darker side of Dyslexia, such as the high percentage of prisoners who are Dyslexics.   Dyslexics have to work harder to achieve but they also need support and self belief.  We consider ourselves lucky, we receive fantastic support from friends family and the Nomad team.

Finally this article is going nowhere, that’s the point, sometimes we Dyslexics explore ideas and go nowhere and sometimes we explore ideas and can go somewhere very interesting indeed.  Fortunately it is not hit or miss and tends towards the latter.  The point is most Dylexics usually have something to say, they make take their time to get there, but the idea or thought is usually better for the journey it has taken.  We wanted to write about Dyslexia, without spell checking or grammar checking, not as therapy, nor as a way of inspiring or encouraging anyone but as an experiment to see if we could be understood and to help some of our clients and friends to know us a little better.  We just hope this has been legible!

Val Clugston

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