I have recently been meeting someone with dyslexia.
At the time of our first meeting, they had only told a handful of people in the world. We have now spoken four or five times and I have noticed some things on the journey.
There is a strong desire not to be treated differently, not to be marked out in some way as needing help. With that comes a fear of judgement. As if by being seen, belonging will be denied – a kind of ostracism from normality, from humanity.
We have researched the number of people in society with dyslexia. I have spoken to them about the idea of neurodiversity. Still belonging … to the rich soup of humanity. After all, who is to say what is ‘right’, just the majority?
Recently they confided to me of a plan to tell some colleagues at their place of work. A huge step. Taking the number of people who would know, almost to double figures. Afterwards, we met and I asked how it went.
In the conversation they had given examples to their team of how to get the best out of them and some things not to do – for example, don’t give me a fifteen page document to read in the next hour.
I was struck again by their world view that this was just them, needing a special way of interacting. Almost apologetic.
I pointed out we all have preferences for working, for relationships. How another person’s words, actions, behaviours can either encourage us, inspire us, make us feel comfortable or enable us to be at our best. Equally words, actions behaviours can have an opposite effect.
I, for example, struggle when I’m not given, or allowed to find, a reason for something – a purpose, a bigger connection. Also, if someone asks me to do something and then tells me how to do it – I get frustrated, angry even, which them obstructs me from being at my best.
My dyslexic friend seemed surprised, but somehow relieved.
It’s a strange phenomena to me that we still find it hard to just say – this is me, this is how I work, this is what I need. Instead we follow a path of assumption, of judgement, of misinterpretation, of struggle.
We’re all the same, just uniquely different.
Digital art by BuestRose