Like many creative workplaces, Bombus embraces a healthy quota of dyslexic employees.  I count myself amongst these numbers and would like to share a bit of my experience in celebration of Dyslexia Awareness Week hosted by the British Dyslexia Association.

I’m ashamed to say that in the past I have worried that my creative career has been driven by the fact that I am unconfident in traditionally academic settings.  I’ve felt the need to prove myself and overcome quite a lot of low level discrimination about my dyslexia. Nothing unusual- I’ve had humiliating experiences with teachers, employers and friends.  One of my peers once asked me if, as a dyslexic, I had found it hard to complete my degree; she assumed I was unable to read.  I had a good laugh about it, but it’s also a bit worrying. Pioneers like Richard Branson and the late Steve Jobs who have ‘overcome’ their dyslexia have done a lot of good for public perception, but there’s still a long way to go.

With experience and a bit of research I have begun to realise that I’ve been overly pessimistic about my dyslexia. I’m starting to wonder if my dyslexic brain is actually the driving force behind my creativity.  The book ‘The dyslexic Advantage’ (Eide & Eide) gives a really great alternative view on the subject and outlines the benefits of dyslexia.  The book proposes that dyslexics are particularly adept at thinking in a global, three dimensional way, due to actual physical differences in brain structure.  Such differences enable dyslexic minds to envisage unusual ‘creative’ connections and perspectives. The benefits of this in careers like architecture, design, graphic design are obvious. The offset to such innovative thinking is that factual processing can take a longer and more complex route. This means that a dyslexic person may find it more frustrating to interpret symbols such as letters words and numbers.    This is not to say that dyslexics are necessarily bad at reading and maths, but that the route from symbol to comprehension can take a longer and more multifarious journey. Such complex thinking at higher levels of academia can actually be an asset.

I really hope books like this can have a positive impact on the perception of people with dyslexia. If, for example, dyslexia tests assessed the special abilities of the subject, rather than just their challenges, the impact upon young minds could be phenomenal. It would be brilliant if this meant that dyslexia was no longer seen as a disability but as a wonderful, valuable skill.

Author: Esther Barnes
Illustrator / Designer