Dyslexic autobiographies

Here are some life stories of dyslexic people that I’ve found helpful.  The first 2 are podcasts.  The others are books, 2 of which are available in audio.

Podcasts

Anthologies

  1. ‘Dyslexia and Us’

Dyslexia_and_Us_book_cover

Published 2011.  Available in print.

Dyslexia Scotland produced this book in collaboration with Edinburgh Libraries.  It gives over 100 personal stories of dyslexia by people of various ages, from a wide range of backgrounds.  I identify with many of the people who contributed to this book because many of them remained anonymous and most of the ones who didn’t are not famous.

One story helped me to understand people’s responses to dyslexia.  It taught me that people’s expectations are based on what is usual.  But dyslexic people are unusual because there’s a wide difference between their strengths and weaknesses.

It also taught me that humans instinctively fear difference.  This fear can make us reject people we perceive as different, and behave aggressively towards them.  People don’t like admitting to this behaviour so they blame others.

2. ‘Creative Successful Dyslexic – 23 High Achievers share their stories’

By Margaret Rooke.  Published 2016.  Available in print.

This tells the stories of 23 successful dyslexic people.  Most of these people are in the public eye.  Each profile starts with 1 or 2 photos of the person and the gist of their story.  Then the person tells us about their career.

I found the stories engaging and accessible.  I found it interesting to discover how people had entered and progressed through their career.  In many cases, their journeys were creative and unconventional.

They also describe specific ways that their dyslexia affects them in their work.  For example, footballer Steven Naismith describes how he’s good at being in the right place at the right time, as you can see here.

Book-length autobiographies

  1. ‘The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah: the Autobiography’ (poet, activist, lyricist, writer)  Published 2018.  Available in audio and print.

This taught me about performance poetry, social issues and the positive influence writers can have on other people’s lives and society.  Benjamin talks about the transformative effect that poetry and martial arts have had on his life.  He also describes how his mum would speak in rhyme at home; how his performance poetry career started in a church context; and how he once pitched a radio play to a producer by performing the words, music and sound effects.

2.  ‘Pour Me – A Life’ By AA [Adrian] Gill (critic)                                                                     Published 2015.  Available in audio and print.

This book is extremely eloquent.  Although it deals with some difficult experiences, the writing is so rich that I found it a pleasure to read.  I was particularly struck by Adrian’s account of how he became a journalist: to paraphrase him, he’d tried everything else.

3. ‘Jo Malone – My Story’ (entrepreneur)                                                                                  Published 2016.  Available in print.

The most significant point of this book for me was when Jo managed to talk her way into a perfume laboratory in Paris.  This was highly irregular – only the perfumers were allowed into the lab.  And yet, it was a pivotal point in her career because it’s where she discovered her gift for smell.

Some themes I noticed in these 3 people’s experiences were: they benefited from opportunities to learn and develop their skills outwith formal education (e.g. family, church); they used original approaches to harness opportunities that grew their careers; and they managed to change their behaviours and / or overcome external barriers.

By an anonymous member of Dyslexia Scotland

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