I'm dyslexic. That's right. Richard Branson, Albert Einstein, Henry Winkler and Orlando Bloom and I can all officially high-five each other.
I was diagnosed about three years ago, during the second year of my university study, undetected throughout my entire school life. If you have to place how dyslexic I am on some sort of scale, I'm approximately halfway between "he can write completely fine" and "OMG what has he just written down on that piece of paper OMG."
If I could describe my dyslexia it would be like this - I can think and speak like most people just as well, but when it comes to writing my thoughts down a little 'block' comes into my head. For no reason whatsoever, I cannot copy what I have in my head on to the page. I just can't. I have to add several more words to compensate for the word I originally intended to write down, so the whole thing ends up looking like spot the ball competition, but with my sentence structure.
Now dyslexia affects people in different ways. It can be a major block to getting through school and getting through work. However, dyslexia isn't all that bad. In fact I ABSOLUTELY FREAKING LOVE IT. Here's why:
1: I can only write as if I am trollied: I cannot write essays, I cannot write any formal documents.
If I try to write in the third person you might as well put what I write into a blender. None of it makes sense.
However, there are no problems with me writing in the first person, in a chatty frame of mind, or to be more precisely, writing as if I have just had 18 Kopperburgs and I am about to make my move on you. The only way I can communicate in life, in writing, is if I am a total tool.
It's weird, but I love it.
2: The fact that when you are in education you do get freebies:
The rumours are true - dyslexics DO get freebies from the government. When I was diagnosed I received a computer in my bedroom, full to the brim of software to help me get over traumatising essays. It was a massive help.
The best software was Dragon, which allowed me to dictate my essay via a microphone into Microsoft Word. "Brilliant", I thought. "I can blast through an essay in about five minutes."
But it was never really as easy as that. In fact there were one or two setbacks. One of which was that if you ever said the words "microphone on" it would turn the microphone on. If you said the words "microphone off" it would turn the microphone off.
That meant, that if you were in the bedroom, you had a radio on, and at any moment the radio said anything around the word "on" and a word beginning with the letter 'm' directly before that word, my computer would turn the microphone on, happily open Microsoft World and transcribe approximately 17,000 words for the next six hours, without your knowledge. I never had to iPlayer a radio programme as it just DID IT for me the previous morning.
3: The fact that as a dyslexic writer I don't have to give a shit about language:
I admit this can seem contradictory. Writers are suppose to be champions of the word as an art-form. We're suppose to be into preserving 'proper English' forever, with the thought that if we turn our back on lecturing people about how it should be written for one afternoon, the whole language will be decapitated.
The fact is, because I'm never going to get it right, I don't care about preserving the English language at all - this whole lark about "making sure that everything is grammatically correct with no spelling mistakes". I don't give a toss.
If you like to lecture about using grammar correctly and abide by the god like rules of Eat Shoots and Leaves, you are officially weird. What is the point of spending your entire life correcting other people's language use (bar primary school teachers *they get high fives*)? Why do you get offended when someone starts a sentence with a 'but'? WHY?
I mean, the internet is currently pissing about a billion litres of words out every square minute. A lot not suiting to your standards. Face it. You've lost.
Not all of us did English Language and Literature to your university degree level standard. There is no uniform 'style guide' that reminds us the difference between affective/effective and so forth. My motto is "If you've got the gist of what the other person is saying or writing, leave it be. And if you don't get the gist? Just nod and smile anyway."
And if you've got one of those 'I can only care about people who use it's and its in the right way' on your Twitter bio, I hope an apostrophe stabs you in your sleep.
Dyslexia can cause setbacks in numerous ways. It isn't the same for every dyslexic person, and it isn't just in terms of writing things down. For example:
We have a whiteboard at home where we draw on the dates in pen in pre-printed boxes every couple of months and add any special occasions or public holidays manually. So according to our house calendar between now and the end of June there are something like eight Bank Holidays. Oh and May has like 33 days in them. And according to this calendar half my mates have their birthdays on a different date than they actually think it is on.
Now I'm not sure whether we have actually met or not, but if you have ever met me in the past, I'm sorry to say that I have already forgotten your name. I'm great with faces, I never forget a face. But literally... the first time we ever meet, you say your name to me, I shake your hand *PFFFF* it's gone. I've tried writing down people's names in my journal as a way to remind myself of your name, I've tried to do the Paul McKenna routine of closing your eyes, saying your name several times, twirling around, dancing the Lindy Hop to remind myself... nothing.
Now I could be crap at names generally as a means of habit, but just until I'm wronged... if I ever bump into you in the London Underground or wherever don't be confused if I look at your face and scream "DYSLEXIA".
3. Job Applications:
As a manager at your top company, are you looking for a brilliant team-player to join your team? Somebody who is a great problem solver, with great communication skills, analytical skills? Somebody who thinks outside the box?
So why are you asking for asking for everyone to apply 100%... in writing? It has been claimed by scientists that a lot of dyslexic people have excellent problem-solving and analytical skills, but a lot of dyslexic people share a weakness, and that is WRITING. WRITING ABOUT HOW WE HAVE ALL OF THOSE SKILLS DOWN.
Now you might think - why not send them a podcast about why you would make a good employee? Why not make a funny little film? Why not doodle about all of your skills on a large FANTASTICAL BALLOON? Well in some scenarios it could work, but for big corporate giants that force you to respond to 127482648 competency questions... no chance mate. No chance.
Follow Scott Bryan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/scottygb