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Disability Narratives


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Audio clip: Learning to adapt his working style to his strengths was an important strategy for Paul and his team.

But over the past six, seven, eight years, I'd say, I've learned a lot more about - rather than just focusing on the weaknesses of it, where I've been quite aware of those sort of typical dyslexia issues, actually I've come to understand what those actually mean, by having dyslexia reports, and also where my strengths are. So it's - I've been able to address some of those issues. As much as anything understand the coping strategies that I have developed naturally, and work with those, and be aware of them as much as anything. But more importantly - what's been more important for me, with that understanding has been understanding my strengths, and understanding what I should be working to with my strengths. And that where I've got a very spiky profile - I've got extremes of ability. Whereas it was looked at previously as a disability, it’s, I've come to understand it more as a - from that point of view.

That there are some things I do very, very well. Some things when I try and do them, I will always fail. Whereas at school it was treated as 'because you couldn't do one thing, you're going to struggle with everything - but if you keep working at those things, you'll get better'. But for a lot of people, yes they will. But when – with, somebody with dyslexia - It's the same with dyspraxia. I won't [sigh]. Well, I will, but very, very slowly. I might very, very slowly improve my spelling. I might very, very slowly improve my reading speed. But if I can just put those aside and say right, I know I struggle with those - I know when I'm writing a report at work, it's something I'm going to have to sit down with and consciously going to have to think about those kind of things. But I can also put them to one side now and understand that when I'm writing a report, I'll just throw everything at it, and I can worry about the sexy bits later.

Those kind of coping strategies with work have made a big difference. But then also, I, going through this, I've started to understand where my strengths are, and really play to those, managing this team. Whereas previously doing jobs where I'm very sat there, going through a process, expected to sit down and do this. And you, I struggled. And I now understand that different types of learning skills - learning strategies, learning styles, that kind of thing, has made a big difference to me. I now know that whilst classically at school and through education you're expected to sit there and absorb information, I can't. But what I can do, because of my dyslexia, is go off at a hundred different angles, and look at lots of different things. And actually, where other people I think tend to - well, other people, people without dyslexia tend to focus, tend to be very good at - or not very good, but better than me at focusing on one thing. Where I'm going off at a hundred different angles, I'm looking at lots - bigger picture things - they tend to get lost. But I'm actually excited by that, and interested in that. And if I play to those strengths, I can bring something new, something important, and something different to a team.

Being able to understand that has really helped me do my job a lot better. And understanding other people as well. Rather than becoming frustrated by the fact that they don't work in the same way as me, I know what I bring to the team and what they bring to the team. And also if they worked in the same way as me, we'd be off all over the place and nothing would get done. You need those different skills. And I'm very strong in that area. So it's kind of - with me being - learning about myself in that way has been really important to me bringing out my strengths, and actually being a lot happier in myself. Whereas before it was just a disability, which dragged me down. If that makes sense.