I hear people saying that they 'don't want to be defined by their dyslexia', so what does this mean? what does it mean to me ? do I not want to be defined by my dyslexia ? Well I think people mean that they want to be seen by others for the person they are, the student, the parent, the professional, rather than as 'Bob the dyslexic'. For me it would be nice to be seen as 'Rob the IT Professional, good at something's not great at others'. But all too often I just get seen as 'Rob the not up too much'. If you were lucky enough to have your dyslexia diagnosed when you were at school and you get a fair shot at your education, are able to make informed career decisions and are then able to build a successful working life in your chosen field then I guess you don't get defined by your dyslexia. But if like me, you were not diagnosed until you were well into adulthood, didn't get a fair shot at your education, were not able to make informed career decisions, then it's a whole different story.
Often I am faced with the dilemma that if I don't mention my dyslexia then people will look at my c.v and see mediocre academic achievement and a rather lack lustre career. So they may conclude that I am someone who is a little lazy, not too bright and lacking ambition. This is not how I would like people to see me or the person that I am. Explain that I am dyslexic and that I was not diagnosed until I was nearly 30 then that pass degree in Economics obtained in my early 20s looks totally different and so on.
Society forces dyslexics to be seen as a weak link needing support. School and the work place are set up to suit the non-dyslexic majority, so the dyslexic child is labelled the 'Special Needs Kid' and if not diagnosed then just as 'thick and lazy'. At work the dyslexic employee is seen as 'disabled' needing to have adjustments in order to do their job. Dyslexia is just a different way of thinking, very right brain dominant rather than the left brain ways of the majority. So we need to learn differently and need to work in different ways, we are special but not needy, we are able.
Over the years I have constantly had people misinterpreting my 'Dyslexicness' as low ability, laziness etc. At school it was being labelled as thick and lazy, teachers doubting my intelligence. My peer group mocking my hand writing, calling me thick because I struggle to memorise the complicated rules of a new board game. Being told I could never write a book because 'I could hardly write my own name'. At work being criticised for making 'avoidable data errors', being ridiculed because you struggle to concentrate in the noisy open plan office, being sidelined because your 'Dyslexic ways' have been misinterpreted as low ability rather than being seen for what they are. Now with the confidence and understanding that comes with age I push some of this back. So I struggle to proof read, I spell badly, I need a few seconds to gather my thoughts in conversation, I struggle with personal organisation, I need time to 'over learn' new processes, I struggle to focus in a noisy environment and so on. On the other hand I am good at seeing the 'big picture', good at making connections from incoming information, quick to grasp new concepts, have good judgement, strong powers of analysis, have a very good long term memory, am an innovative problem solver, good at reading people, know how to listen and so on. I now kick back at the left brain majority with 'Can't you see that connection', 'didn't you realise that was going to happen', 'can't you remember' and so on.
Does Dyslexia define me ? Well it would be nice if I was just allowed to work and learn in a way that suits me, was valued for my abilities and not persecuted for my perceived weaknesses. Declaring that I am dyslexic helps people understand why I am the way I am, so in many ways it does define me. It would be good to live in a world where this definition was seen as a positive thing and not, as all too often, a weakness.