The message to “Reach your full potential” is very powerful for anyone with Dyslexia. What this message conveys is that with the right tools and the right help anyone with Dyslexia can excel. This message was highlighted through UK Dyslexia Awareness Week, 3rd to 9th November 2014.
It is recognised that 10% of the UK population have Dyslexia and therefore there are potentially 450 people employed by NHS Dumfries & Galloway who have Dyslexia. There are many famous people with Dyslexia who have reached the top (their full potential) in their profession or sport e.g. Richard Branson, Steve Redgrave and Jackie Stewart.
Instead we can have confusion between left and right, organisational issues, timekeeping problems and difficulty remembering things just done or things to be done. But being hurried, pressured or ridiculed only serves to make the Dyslexia symptoms worse. People with Dyslexia need time to reason and understand a situation and do not benefit from Rote (learning from repetition) but have to Reason (seek to fully understand) each time they are faced with a situation.
People who suffer from Dyslexia have, as individuals, different strengths and weaknesses and are affected differently by their Dyslexia.
Most people, like me, find out later in life they have Dyslexia and miss the opportunity of their Dyslexia being addressed when still at school, university or college.
I was diagnosed with Dyslexia at 34 and only then because of my attendance / involvement in a Learning Disabilities Course on behalf of the Day Surgery Unit. The Course content included references to difficulties with learning and I.Q and I recognised that I suffered from some of these symptoms. I then arranged an assessment with an Educational Psychologist for Dyslexia. When I discussed my symptoms I felt someone understood me and the difficulties in my life!
The clues were there in my behaviours. I had always found it hard to keep up with the pace of life, while all around me my fellow pupils, peers and work colleagues appeared to find life’s challenges relatively easy to overcome. I tried very hard to cope because I like to do a good job but I was frustrated. Despite the personal improvements I sought to build on I would often have to start again at square one even for a situation I had successfully worked through previously.
My Dyslexia diagnosis has enabled me to piece together the jigsaw that is my life. I now understand why I had difficulties in certain areas of my schooling, life and job. I am working on ways to counter these difficulties, with help, understanding and tools for example glasses with green coloured lenses and varying the colours of paper and test I use. These are the things I need to enable me to “Reach my full potential”.
My strength is that, as a Staff Nurse in the Day surgery Unit, I am recognised for my empathy with and good care of my patients, who often personally thank me for making their journey through the Day Surgery Unit as pleasant an experience as is possible in the circumstances. They also thank me for the high level of care I have given them.
However I do struggle to cope with the paperwork, time management and organising the team. These tasks are very demanding of me and I hope to improve on my performance in them by use of the tools and help that is now available to me and work with my colleagues to help them understand the effects of my dyslexia.
The possibility for everyone to “reach your full potential” is there because most people with Dyslexia have, on assessment of their intelligence, an above average IQ. Under the Equality Act there is a duty on the employer and employees to level the playing field by making the work environment Dyslexia friendly. This often leads to a better working environment for everyone involved.
I have driven the promotion of Dyslexia Awareness Week (3rd to 9th November) in NHS Dumfries & Galloway to help others to recognise Dyslexia in themselves or in their children and to make sure they know where to go for help and support if they or members of their family have Dyslexia.
Through Dyslexia Awareness Week I have met some inspiring people who wanted to share their Dyslexia journeys with me. I have also met people who have approached me because they have children or grandchildren with Dyslexia and were unsure of how to do their best for them.
It is my 36th birthday on Sunday, 9th November, what better present for me than the fact that I have spent Dyslexia Awareness Week promoting awareness and helping others with Dyslexia (or with Dyslexia in their families) through listening, understanding and directing them to where they can receive help and support. I hope this has made a difference to their lives and their achievements.
To the 1 in 10 people in the UK affected by Dyslexia.
Because with early intervention and the right support, people with Dyslexia can reach their full potential.
At School, at University and at Work, making the environment Dyslexia friendly can benefit ALL who are learning or working in that environment.
Emma Groves is a Staff Nurse in the Day Surgery Unit at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary