Many people associate the ability to write and read with an individual’s level of intelligence. By benchmarking intelligence based on these skills alone, this could contribute towards some of the negative perceptions towards those with dyslexia. However, for many people living with this learning disability, it can be a stark reminder of how their condition is not often taken seriously. Tribal Impact’s Lizbeth Reed has discussed some of the realities, good and bad, of dyslexic life in society.
When Lizbeth attended school, she was subjected to the ‘one size fits all’ teaching that was common in the late 90s and 2000s. Due to learning differently than her peers, she was often placed in special needs classes. This meant that, for her exams, she was not allowed to take higher papers, capping her grades, and limiting her chances for further education.
Thankfully, Lizbeth’s family fought hard for additional education and specialist tutors. These gave her the tools required to blend in with her peers and make her dyslexia far less obvious.
Lizbeth made it clear how grateful she is to her parents for that opportunity but also states how, for the majority of families, this would not be a feasible option. She got lucky and gained the resources she needed. Yet many dyslexic people have to continue struggling with their education while simultaneously being labelled as stupid or lazy.
Following compulsory education, Lizbeth also attended university. While the written aspects were difficult, she excelled at the creative side, as many dyslexic individuals do. The additional time for tests and deadlines that is given to those with learning disabilities proved to be invaluable, and she graduated with a 2:1 in Costume Production.
Although many people might be aware of how people with dyslexia struggle to read and learn, they may not be aware that socialising can also be quite problematic. Different learning styles, as well as a delay in diagnosis, may mean that an individual is unable to understand certain social cues, such as body language or facial expressions. Even a more limited vocabulary has the potential to isolate that individual.
Dyslexia is generally seen as something negative, even though it is estimated that around 10% of the population have it, so individuals may often avoid talking about it so they too are not viewed badly.
While there may be learning and socialisation issues that occur with having dyslexia, there are also ways that it has helped Lizbeth. As part of her role as Digital Strategist at Tribal Impact, she often has to create reports. This is something she excels at, simply because she can view the data, and patterns within it, in ways that others might not.
Lizbeth has also noticed that she is incredibly creative. This could be because the right side of the brain is often larger in dyslexic people. In her leisure time, she prefers to garden, undertake interior design, and even paint.
Another aspect of her identity that she credits her dyslexia for can be her leadership skills. Even with a learning disability, Lizbeth is in a management position at Tribal Impact, leading a team of two others and bringing that creative potential to her workplace.
Life At Tribal Impact
Having been in some unhealthy working environments before, not just due to her dyslexia, Lizbeth wanted to work somewhere where the people and the work were fair. While she still doesn’t discuss her dyslexia much, Tribal is aware. They have offered support and tools, should she choose to take them, yet they haven’t been needed thus far.
It appears, from an outside perspective, that Lizbeth is a much-valued member of the team. She has a number of responsibilities, including being outsourced to some of Tribal’s clients, that show their abject faith in her as a person. Her dyslexia doesn’t seem to be limiting her success or job role.
There Needs To Be Change
For people with dyslexia to be able to excel, just like Lizbeth, some serious changes need to be put into place. Not all families are in a financial position where they can hire tutors or offer their child a private education.
Schools are often built for the mass market and have limited budgets, so Lizbeth understands they may be hard pushed to make significant changes. However, those that are neurodivergent shouldn’t be left behind. An increase in teaching assistants to work alongside these pupils could help.
Regarding adult life, there would need to be a large number of changes made to make work and leisure that much more accessible. The font, layout, and even colour of text could make it incredibly difficult for a dyslexic person to read. This can put them at a great disadvantage when applying for work or trying to fill out documents.
Alongside this, people may face a high level of stress and anxiety simply from attempting to fit in with the current norms. By making it commonplace for people to learn and work in ways that suit their needs, they might have more of a chance of finding success.
Many people with dyslexia don’t want others to undertake tasks for them. Given time, tools, and options, they are capable of doing anything they set their minds to. This doesn’t mean that you need to treat a dyslexic colleague differently. Instead, you might want to consider adapting a workplace to make it more welcoming and accessible for those that may respond better to different types of learning.
It can be important to remember that there is more to intelligence than simply the ability to read or write quickly. Many people with dyslexia may have an above-average IQ. Several notable people also share this diagnosis, including Orlando Bloom, Whoopi Goldberg, and even the great Albert Einstein. Like Lizbeth, these individuals also could excel at creativity and problem-solving.
Every brain is exceptional in its own way and should be treated as such, regardless of a person’s ability to understand a collection of letters, or even put pen to paper. The more people’s differences are celebrated, the better the world could be.