Out of Sight, But Very Much in the Mind
Updated: Oct 20, 2021
Some days, I feel burnt out before I've even sat down at my desk. I can just foresee my brain overloading sometimes.
Other days, my mind gets so clouded with information that I can't help but procrastinate; distracting myself to prevent me from withdrawing completely.
But I'm not hungover, and I don't need more sleep. Nor am I particularly bad at my job (or need to drink more coffee).
For someone with a type of dyslexia that makes it difficult to function like a rational human being when you're not up to it is exhausting and draining. High-functioning dyslexia is a type of learning difficulty that is so challenging to diagnose because the people it inhibits are going about their lives like everybody else, and performing like everybody else... potentially even over-achieving.
When it's concealed underneath a very believable veneer, it's all the more befuddling to people. You can imagine just how frustratingly difficult it is for me to describe to people how much I struggle on a daily basis with dyslexia.
No matter how accurately I articulate my struggles, it never seems to resonate with people; I perform like everybody else, and I have no painstakingly obvious trouble with grammar and spelling. In fact, I love to read and write. What's even more painful is that I know my own weaknesses... and for no one to understand them quite like I do just makes it all the more isolating. We get to the same place as others eventually, and with the right help and support we can learn to work in a way that suits us.
It makes it very difficult to persuade people to put measures in place to mitigate it, because if I can work to the standard of everyone else, why do I need to be treated any differently?
Whether you empathise with me or not, it's something that is very real. Brock and Fernette Eides in their book, The Dyslexic Advantage, pen that the accepted definition of dyslexia isn't all that it's limited to; so many people with dyslexia who've been diagnosed later in life (like me) have a sound aptitude for reading and writing, and are more likely to have higher than average IQs.
But, a high IQ doesn't exempt us from grappling with the customary rituals we find ourselves tackling at work.
It's important for managers to understand their employees, and how they work; but it can also be challenging to adapt to new environments, not just because of the oblivion of different ways of working, but out of not knowing how people will react. I believe that there's still a stigma around dyslexia, and how 'seeing is believing' is still the narrative that dictates people's perceptions - how even believing is sometimes a stretch too far.
The struggles are there nonetheless, but what makes us different is that we work hard, because we have to if we want to survive the office jungle. My interconnection capabilities are great at linking seemingly unrelated points and ideas to create new avenues of thought patterns. I'm also very good at visualisation, and work well with images (but equally I still love making lists). All in all, a dyslexic brain is one worth hiring, as there's so many potentially different ways of thinking to tap into; next time you hire someone with dyslexia, don't use it against them, but see it as a strength.
I'm lucky I have dyslexia, but we still need to go a long way for others to understand how it's out of sight, but still very much in the mind.
Have you any experiences of dyslexia in the workplace?