Dyslexia: don’t suffer in silence

When the word ‘disabled’ is used, people often associate it with something visual, like a wheelchair, a stick or a guide dog. Or, when someone has an obvious physical impairment. Yet having a disability isn’t always apparent, and a large number suffering from an invisible disability, go unnoticed.

These can be mental health issues like depression, stress, anxiety and bipolar, or physical disabilities that don’t require the use of a mobility aid, like lupus, ME, crones or fibromyalgia. But what about dyslexia?

Since launching our interactive educational programme in April, where one of our two stars talks about being dyslexic, a number have come forward saying that they have it too. Matthew shares his experience with us here.

Diagnosed with dyslexia

At school, I was always placed in the top sets, and although I was referred for speech therapy, I had no obvious signs of any learning difficulties. It was only when studying Sports Management at Sheffield University that I began to feel more exposed. Finding writing and referencing extremely difficult, I didn’t then complete my degree, and left university.

After working for another building society, I then joined Nationwide in 2010, and progressed from Branch Manager to become District Manager over a few years.

“ It was then that I talked to my manager about some concerns I had with my new role. Supported by Nationwide, an independent test revealed I was dyslexic. ”

The results of my Dyslexia test showed that I was very strong in some areas and very poor in others. I struggled with basic phonics and I couldn’t hear the pronunciation of various sounds that a 5-year old would be able to cope with. It highlighted there were some problems with my memory too.

What is dyslexia?

The British Dyslexia Association (BDA) management board approved the following definition in October 2007*:

“ Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty that mainly affects the development of literacy and language related skill. It is likely to be present at birth and to be life-long in its effects. It is characterised by difficulties with phonological processing, rapid naming, working memory, processing speed, and the automatic development of skills that may not match up to an individual’s other cognitive abilities. ”

Did you know?

  • 10% of the population are dyslexic; 4% severely so*
  • Dyslexia is identified as a disability in the Equality Act 2010*
  • 1 in 6 adults still only have the reading skills of an 11-year-old**
  • 1 in 10 children do not reach the expected national Level 4 in reading by the time they finish primary school (National Curriculum KS2)

*Reference/Source: http://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk

**Reference/Source: http://www.dyslexiaaction.org.uk/page/facts-and-figures-about-dyslexia-0

Building confidence

In my area, our EDI (Equality, Diversity & Inclusion) champion asked me to share my story, so I decided to record myself talking about my disability and explained what I struggled with most. Doing it on camera helped me build my confidence. Someone saw my video post and approached me to see if I’d be willing to be a host on the disability e-learning.

It’s not always obvious that people have disabilities, so it’s important to have an open mind, and give people the confidence to talk openly about it, and share their experiences. It’s not taboo anymore, and at Nationwide we are good at supporting people.

“ I’ve been equipped with an IPAD and remote keyboard, along with Dragon dictation software. Plus, I have additional colleague support for when I interview candidates for new positions. It’s all made such a huge difference. ”

Disclosing your dyslexic

At Nationwide, we’ll make reasonable adjustments for anyone with a disability as it allows us to make a truly fair assessment at the interview process. If the condition isn’t disclosed, then we unfortunately can’t provide the support. There is no discrimination in our society, so we urge every applicant to reach out for our help if they need it. Matthew reiterates this point:

“ There is still a stigma associated with disability in the application process, so encouraging applicants to be honest and open, or provide them with the correct support from the very outset, is really important. ”

Share your views

If you, or anyone you know suffers from any type of invisible disability and you feel comfortable sharing your experiences with us (good or bad), then we’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below, or join us on social media via Twitter or Facebook (embed links) and don’t forget to use #InvisibleDisabilities.

Date for the diary: Dyslexia Awareness Week takes place between 2-8 October 2017.