Background to the book - The Achiever's Journey
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Background to my book – addressing issues on dyslexia

Dyslexia is a gift and not a stigma

I am a professional mentor, working primarily with senior personnel, (both dyslexic and non-dyslexic) in the corporate sector. It was only after-life saving surgery three years ago that I was provided with the opportunity to actually start work on a self-help book. My initial intention was to write a book which would allow me to share my mentoring skills and related information with a far wider audience.

‘The Achievers Journey’ is based on my experiences, both during the course of my own life and as a mentor. My intention was to weave into the book the personal philosophy behind my mentoring system, which originated with my parents. Being born dyslexic, dysprasic, with my feet the wrong way round, and put up for adoption at a month old, meant that by the time my parents adopted me at the age of six weeks they really had their work cut out. They could never have foreseen then that their creative methods of dealing with my learning difficulties would become the basis of my own mentoring career, and later a framework for assisting fellow dyslexics.

In all honesty I wrote the book for the general public, as a self-help manual, not specifically for dyslexics. Little did I know while writing the book that I was embarking on one of the most amazing journeys of my life.

From the first week as I started to finally put the book together I was amazed by the reactions I received. I told few about my intentions for writing the book. However, one or two of my professional colleagues said I must be out of my mind to admit in my book that I am dyslexic. “Why?” I asked. “Well it could seriously damage your business,” they replied. I couldn’t believe it. I have never flaunted being dyslexic but never wished to hide it either.

Thankfully, I have always had more work than I could deal with. So I decided that I am what I am, and it if others didn’t like it then surely that was their problem not mine. I would continue on with my mission of writing the book, including the fact I was dyslexic. I always felt that being honest in my self-help book would benefit the reader and prove it was a REAL self help book.

However, as my thousands of hours of work on the book continued and word got round that I was including my dyslexic story within it people started to ask me questions about dyslexia, which I didn’t mind as they obviously wanted to know. I was asked: “Do dyslexics read a book from the last page to the first?”

“How would one know if you were suffering! from the condition?” “Is dyslexia brain damage?” I was even offered sympathy from one lady in the village where I live.

I was totally amazed that so many people had differing views and often very unaware of what dyslexia actually is. Then I realised that most people have a pre-conceived notion of what a dyslexic is; many of these notions are incorrect. All this interest in dyslexia and the reactions I was receiving started me thinking further about dyslexia and how it had affected my life. Obviously, I don’t know and can’t imagine what being a non-dyslexic and “normal” is. All I knew was that I have struggled in some respects when most around me didn’t. I started to reflect on how a lack of understanding of dyslexia had affected my own life.

I have always stated that Dyslexia is a gift and not a stigma. But I been affected by the lack of understanding. I quickly came up with a whole host of examples, but two main incidents stand out, which had the greatest impact on my life. Firstly, as a child, my teacher said in front of the whole class, when I struggled to spell a word, “Are you completely stupid?” I answered, that my Mum had told me I definitely wasn’t. She replied that as far as she was concerned I definitely was. I was then bullied for months by some children, as a direct result of what she had said. As a young child this knocked my confidence. From then on during lessons I withdrew into myself and hardly spoke at all during lessons in case I got something wrong.

The other incident when dyslexia affected my life occurred when I had successfully worked my way up in a large corporation, a job where I loved my job and colleagues. However, a new director arrived and publicly announced the only downside to his new position was that he had found out the person who had been given the job of inducting him into the company was not only a woman, but worse still, a dyslexic. That person was me. I had to take it on the chin. Sadly, he used his power to bully me relentlessly, until I finally resigned.This only ever happened to me once in all of my career, and took place several years ago now. Thankfully these days there are more things in place to help deal with a situation like mine. After revisiting how dyslexia had affected my life, I finally concluded that dyslexia had never actually been a problem to me; I accept myself exactly as I am, dyslexia only became a problem when misperceived by another.

This leads me to the next surprise of writing the book. I couldn’t understand the sudden unexpected interest in a book that I hadn’t even finished, and that no one had seen. But somehow through the jungle telegraph, people I didn’t know and had never met were asking me questions about dyslexia. They had heard of my story and that I had succeeded in life, and were looking for re-assurance that their newly-diagnosed dyslexic child could succeed too, in spite of their dyslexia. I also received interest from fellow dyslexics who realised that I would probably write the book in a way that would be easier for them to follow and was someone who shared the same difficulties. Others thought they might be dyslexic and wanted to know more.

However, the last experience of this journey of writing the book came when recently I tried to purchase an interesting book on dyslexia from a large book store, and the member of staff serving me asked if the book was for me. Once he knew it was, he asked in a loud voice (some think you are also deaf if dyslexic) how did I expect to be able to read it if I was dyslexic? He then went on to try and escort me to the audio section of the shop. Once I explained I could read and write, and had in fact just written a book, he apologised. However, as I was still waiting in the queue to pay for my book, he went on to ask, “Do you understand numbers, to be able to put your pin number in?!”

On the back of everything I have uncovered during writing the book, I decided to try and address some of these issues in a positive way. For dyslexics I have created a resource section on “The Achievers Journey” website to help them find the help that is available from excellent organisations. And to help educate the general public about what dyslexia actually is, I have provided (from working with professional dyslexic organisations), simple explanations, and prepared some media information on the subject. Based on what I have learned, I have also made a conscious decision, that following writing the book my busy schedule in future will include dealing with dyslexia. I have also donated free copies of my books to certain organisations and libraries, to reach those who would benefit from my book, but might not have the means to purchase it.

After my fascinating life journey so far, I now believe more than ever, Dyslexia is a gift and not a stigma.

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