finalists at the dyslexia awards 2023 stand for a group photograph

Don’t Call Me Stupid! – Dyslexia Awareness Month

October was Dyslexia Awareness Month, helping to raise awareness and celebrate diversity. Recently I was recognised as a finalist for the Dyslexia Awards of 2023. As someone who is neurodiverse, this is an incredible honour. This article also gives me a wonderful opportunity to show you some photos from the Dyslexia Awards Night.

It is estimated that 1 in 10 people in the UK has a form of learning disability. Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dyspraxia, and ADHD are just a few of those, yet as a society, we still struggle to accept this.

Our school children are being pushed to breaking point with exam-based education. This ticks boxes which look good for statistics but leave behind gifted individuals whose brains are practical, not academic. Employers with similar attitudes are missing out on a great resource for their businesses.

By writing this article, I’m hoping that I can encourage discussions among businesses and educators about how we can support and motivate those with neurodiversity. We need to change the way we see those with learning difficulties (LD). Investing in people with LD can bring an extra dimension to our businesses and their growth.

Nate Lansdsell shows his award at the Dyslexia Awards 2023

My personal feelings on what it feels like to have learning difficulties.

Having a learning difficulty is incredibly frustrating. It’s like taking a jigsaw and trying to complete it with zero image reference. From my own experience, simple tasks can become challenging. When asked about my learning difficulties, I describe it as having a little gremlin on my shoulder. This gremlin has one job – to take tasks, muddle them up and cause my brain to melt. This results in scrambled messages between my brain and the rest of my body.

It’s an incredibly frustrating affair because you can see the task, and your brain understands what it needs to do, but it can’t action it. The gremlin has muddled everything up, and now I can’t see the wood for the trees. It takes a lot of effort and concentration to get myself on track because of this.

So how does this affect education or work life?

The simple answer is it affects our motivation because we see things differently and this affects our ability to achieve without suitable and patient guidance. What can be seen as a simple task to some, is a mountain to climb for the neurodiverse.

Often motivation is measured with performance statistics. These stats will show neurodiverse individuals as not performing like others. That is because our brains do not work in the same way.

So how do we move forward?

I think we need to look at neurodiverse individuals as the creatives they are. Many of us are not very strong in analytical-based learning.

  • We can look at how we create performance-based metrics. What are they based on? Are they inclusive?
  • We can look at how we teach people. Our education system is failing many of our children. Can we teach using our hands, rather than through books?
  • We can look for ways to make our workforce more inclusive. Could you create a buddy system to help those with LD? For example, people with ADHD can see dramatic improvements in their productivity by introducing ‘body doubling’. This is where a person with ADHD person works with or beside a neuro-typical individual, to help keep them focused.

Neurodiversity and learning difficulties.

As a person with neurodiverse learning difficulties, being finalist in the category of amazing artist of 2023 is truly humbling, But this recognition is not just for me. It is a testament to the strength of all those with neurodiverse conditions. Dyslexia has shaped my journey as an artist. It pushes me to think differently, embrace my unique perspective, and persist in the face of adversity.

We all can help others. As teachers and business leaders, we can help build a better and stronger community and encourage those with neurodiverse conditions. We can show that nothing needs to hold you back. You can embrace your unique perspective on the world, persist when it gets hard, stand tall and be proud of your ability to change and mould the world as you see fit.

Written by Nate Lansdell from A Smile A Day Photography, Dyslexia Artist Of 2023 Finalist, Highly Commended New Small Business of Peterborough at Peterborough Small Business Awards.

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