Dyslexia: a call for action

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Emma Abdulaal describes how the right support can improve a dyslexic person’s prospects.

We need to find a way of making sense of dyslexia for everyone, whether they are a child struggling at school, an adult staying late at work when the office is quiet to get a report finished, or a parent wondering how they can help their child with their spellings when they struggle themselves. Early intervention is a fantastic way of laying the foundations that can help a person with dyslexia go on to achieve to their full potential, but when dyslexia awareness remains an optional part of initial teacher training, how are teachers meant to feel able to identify and support a student showing indications of dyslexia? Teachers should feel empowered and comfortable in identifying children with specific learning difficulties, and employers should be aware of the positives of employing a person with dyslexia, and what reasonable adjustments are appropriate.

Job interviews can be difficult enough for the most prepared person, but many employers ask interviewees to complete tests which don’t take account of an applicant’s dyslexia. The fear of how a potential employer may react to being told about your dyslexia is why many choose to not identify their difficulty until problems begin to surface. More people are becoming aware of government schemes such as Access to Work, so hopefully this will change, but there is still a long way to go. GCHQ, the British Intelligence Agency, recently employed over a hundred dyslexic and dyspraxic applicants because of their skills in decoding complicated patterns or sequences, and dyslexia in the workplace is becoming more of a talking point.

■ Dyslexia can make entrepreneurship more difficult.

It isn’t just in the workplace that people can face difficulty; what about those with a fantastic idea for a business who struggle to fight their way through the paperwork. We can all name famous entrepreneurs with dyslexia, but especially at a time when many small businesses and startups are failing, dyslexia can certainly make the process more difficult. Dyslexic entrepreneurs typically struggle with tasks such as email communication, writing business plans, drafting work schedules and determining cash flows; all of which are essential to running a successful business. This is why it is vital that dyslexic entrepreneurs have access to trained mentors who can not only support them with these tasks, but can also help devise coping strategies so they don’t have to depend on people’s help in the long term.

There will always be a need for increased awareness, and that identification is really only the start of the journey. Whether you are in an office, a supermarket or sat at the dining room table writing out a business plan there are going to be challenges and so much about success is to do with improving your awareness and that of those around you. For any dyslexic entrepreneurs who want to turn their passion into a successful business, don’t let the barriers stop you. Having a mentor will help you reach a level of potential you probably never thought possible. Whether your business succeeds or not, having that support will undoubtedly propel you to a better future and will give you the confidence to believe it’s all possible.

Emma Abdulaal
Author: Emma Abdulaal

Emma Abdulaal
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Emma Abdulaal has worked for the British Dyslexia Association and the NHS.

Website: bdadyslexia.org.uk

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