Book review: ‘The Dyslexic Adult in a Non-Dyslexic World’

‘The Dyslexic Adult in a Non-Dyslexic World’ by Ellen Morgan and Cynthia Klein

John Wiley & Sons, 2000. ISBN: 978-1-86156-207-4

Available from Dyslexia Scotland’s resource centre.

This book is about dyslexic adults who were identified in adulthood. I think it is an excellent book.  Here are 10 reasons I liked it.

  1. It deepened my understanding of dyslexia. For example, it discusses how dyslexic people learn better if the learning content is linked to a context that is meaningful to them.
  2. It helped me make sense of my experience. For example, I was assessed and not identified in my early 20s, then assessed and identified in my late 30s. The book revealed to me possible reasons for that.
  3. It broadened my knowledge of the experience of dyslexic adults. This helped me to put my own experience in context. For example, one adult featured did not label himself negatively at school. He was able to see beyond his literacy difficulties and recognise that he was good at academic subjects and enjoyed learning.
  4. The content is beautifully and simply expressed. The authors and interviewees articulate brilliantly and succinctly what it’s like to be a dyslexic person identified in adulthood. The book provides a framework and stimulus for any dyslexic adult’s own story.
  5. I found it accessible. It’s rich with detail but never heavy-going. It quotes directly the dyslexic adults who contributed to the book.
  6. I found it therapeutic. I was identified in adulthood. Much of the book reflected my own experience. I found it so self-validating it felt like a treat to read it. I didn’t want it to end.
  7. I found it fascinating and insightful
  8. It shares some inventive strategies that dyslexic adults have devised. For example:  A strategy for managing time which involves imagining the days of the week in a ring and a method for remembering how to spell the word ‘pyramid’:

Pyramid Page 164 of the book.[1]

   9. It crystallised some ideas for me. For example, identification in adulthood lets   an individual start to reframe school experiences.

  10. It is underpinned by research. It draws on research by the authors and others.

3 tips for engaging with this book

  1. Ask the Seeing Ear[2] if they would produce it in Word so that you can use a text reader to listen to it[3].
  2. Engage with other books that complement it. For example:
  • ‘Dyslexia – How to survive and succeed at work’;
  • ‘Understanding Dyslexia – An Introduction for Dyslexic Students in Higher Education’; and
  • ‘The Dyslexic Advantage’.[4]

3. Try to obtain your own copy. Highlight points that are particularly significant for          you. Note your responses and cross-references in the margins.

Conclusion

As I’ve been reviewing this book I’ve been wondering about its title. Does it help dyslexic adults and everyone else to think of the world as non-dyslexic? There is still low dyslexia awareness, and dyslexic adults still experience many challenges. But I think it’s now time to see dyslexia as a part of society, and accept that reality. Then we can all work together to address the difficulties and maximise the strengths of dyslexia. So if I were to write a sequel to this book, I’d call it ‘Including our Dyslexic Adults in our 10% Dyslexic World’. What would you call it?

By an anonymous member of Dyslexia Scotland

[1] The publisher asked me to include the following copyright notice. I take no responsibility for it. “All rights reserved. No part of ‘The Dyslexic Adult in a Non-Dyslexic World’ may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of John Wiley & Sons.”

[2] http://www.seeingear.org/about-us/contact-us

[3] For guidance on text readers see ‘Making written web content accessible using text readers’ at http://includeusall.org.uk/1205-2

[4] These books are detailed in a list of self-help books and resources that is available to download from http://dyslexiascotland.org.uk/our-leaflets (scroll to the foot, under ‘Further Reading’)

Advertisements

Hello! From the Health and Social Care Alliance

By Kerry Ritchie and Lara Murray, Network Development Officers

The Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (known as the ALLIANCE) has recently become a member of Dyslexia Scotland and we are also pleased to welcome Dyslexia Scotland to the ALLIANCE family.

alliance 1

Kerry and Lara, Network Development Officers at the ALLIANCE

With over 1,900 members across health and social care, the third sector and including people living with long term conditions and unpaid carers, the ALLIANCE has a huge reach and a remit to improve services for people living in Scotland. We are both Network Officers at the ALLIANCE, working to grow and strengthen relationships. We want to introduce you to the ALLIANCE and to the different parts of our networking activities.

Membership of the ALLIANCE

At the ALLIANCE, our vision is for Scotland to be a place where everyone has support and services that put them at the centre. People of all ages living with disabilities, long term conditions or providing unpaid care for a loved one need to have a strong voice to ensure that they enjoy their right to live well and free from discrimination. We view everyone as an equal and active citizen who should be able to shape the health and social care services they use.

Our three core aims are to:

  • Ensure people’s voices are at the centre of design, delivery and improvement of services
  • Support transformational change, towards approaches that work with individuals and communities
  • Champion the third sector as an important partner in the delivery of health and social care

Working towards our vision, the ALLIANCE is involved in many different projects and you can read about them all on our website. However, our real strength is our membership: the people and organisations that provide their voice and expertise on what is currently happening in health and social care and what needs to change. 1,900 voices are so much louder together.

alliance 2

A recent ALLIANCE members’ networking event

In return for lending their strength to achieving our vision, we offer members a range of benefits, including up to date news, briefings and alerts as well as knowledge sharing and opportunities for networking across sectors.

Dyslexia Scotland is now a member of the ALLIANCE as an organisation. It is also possible to join for free as an individual supporter. Learn more on the ALLIANCE membership website. Contact Kerry Ritchie to find out about joining.

Self Management

One of the priority areas for the ALLIANCE is our self management work. When we talk about self management of a long term condition, we do not mean people being left to manage alone. Supported self management is about people living with long term conditions feeling able, through the services, support and information they access, to live well with their condition. Our work aims to bring about a change in the way services are delivered to support this way of working with people.

Since 2008, the ALLIANCE has been administering the Self Management Fund on behalf of the Scottish Government. To date, more than £16 million has been awarded to over 200 projects delivering innovative services that enable people to self manage their long term conditions.

alliance 3

2016 Self Management Network Scotland event held with Crohn’s and Colitis UK showing attendees holding a paper chain made of ‘powerful partnership’ links to promote the theme of partnership working

Funding these projects is the cornerstone of our other self management work including the Self Management Network Scotland. Around 500 people with an interest in changing health and social care services to work in this way can connect and support one another through this network. Joining is free and we host regular networking events as well as issue updates on the world of self management in Scotland.

Find out more and join on the Self Management Network Scotland website. Contact Lara Murray to find out more.

Why do we need Neurodiversity?

In a society where ‘labelling’ someone with a neurological difference creates much debate and where some people are accused of wanting labels unjustly, in order for children to be given more time in exams, somebody might question why another label, such as that of being neurologically diverse, is needed. Let me explain why.

While there are always going to be people who disagree with the assigning of labels entirely – and this is perfectly okay – I believe that saying someone is neurologically diverse has some merit. One, you are not sticking a specific label to them “Jack has X problem, while Jill has Y issue,” you are merely saying that their brain works differently to the general population. Given that there is truth to this statement, nothing about this is wrong.

Furthermore, it is a more inclusive term to use, particularly in the case of people who have multiple conditions within this particular spectrum. Because it is possible to be both dyslexic and dyspraxic, for instance, an individual is sometimes neither one nor the other. Consequently, some may argue that it is more accurate to describe someone as neurologically diverse. On a related note, in the same way that “disability” can be used to encompass a variety of conditions, neurodiversity can too.   As a result, it might be that the individual wishes to use the term to describe themselves rather than divulge the specific nature of their difficulty.

As well as being used as a non-specific signifier for those that are maybe wary of putting a particular label on themselves, it can also be used as a unifying force to bring together lots of people. Having previously said that you can be neurologically diverse in more than one way, let us also remember that neurologically diverse is a huge umbrella that contains a great many people with many different traits, strengths and difficulties. However, you don’t have to have exactly the same problem in order to sympathise with a predicament someone else is facing. For example, just because people with dyscalculia struggle with numbers and people with dyslexia struggle with letters, it doesn’t mean the frustrations are not similar, just that they are caused by different things.

Those who are critical of the term may feel it is too broad to be of any real use, possibly arguing that isn’t everyone neurologically diverse in some way? (After all, no two people are the same). To them I would say that there is a world of difference between thinking differently and someone’s brain being wired differently. It’s a question of the difference in how information is processed rather than a difference of opinion on that information itself. Since this is something that is not unique to one condition, neurodiversity is needed as a term to illustrate and take account of that.

Although some people may disagree with any label in principle, there is no getting away from the fact that they are at least partially needed – people need language to allow them to talk about what they are experiencing. In being broad and non-descript, though, the term neurologically diverse enables someone to describe a learning difference in their own way because it makes as little assumption about the problems people may encounter and allows people to tell who they like what they like when they feel it’s appropriate. Unlike dyslexia, which many mistakenly see as purely a reading difficulty, ‘neurologically diverse’ is not a term that has gained enough traction to generate such misconceptions. Due to the breadth of the term, someone can even say “I’m neurologically diverse and this is how it affects me,” which could, in theory, reduce the number of labels needed altogether. Given this, whether you are in the pro or anti label camp, using neurodiversity as a way to describe learning differences is no bad thing.

Gemma Bryant, Resource Centre Volunteer

Barriers to finding my creativity

BudStugglingToBloom_DKSometimes I feel like ‘neuro-normal’ people put verbal vaults in my way to imprison my intellectual and creative gifts.

I often feel like the bud above, trying to blossom in a society that relies heavily on words. I think I am a nonverbal thinker. However, most people want me to explain my plans to them. I think another issue here is my working memory. I often feel worried about going out shopping, to clubs and to appointments [sometimes I’m even hesitant about spending time with friends and family] because life and conversations rarely follow a set script.

Real life is not a rehearsal and I too often feel unprepared. I often don’t answer fast enough, causing people to badger me for my answer (or that’s how it appears to me). If I try to answer quickly the content of my statement tends not to cover everything I would have liked. So in my experience, the person I’m speaking to sees this as proof that I don’t know what I’m doing. They then start judging me and telling me what I should do. I then have a negative emotional reaction and I can’t take control of the situation.

For other people who have dyslexia this may sound rather strange: however, I believe I may have dyspraxia as well. When I was diagnosed back in the 1980s: the phrasing was something like ‘learning difficulties with dyslexic type difficulties’. My gross and fine motor skills were also flagged up as a problem, I think. My belief that I may be dyspraxic is bolstered by how hard I have to work to be organised.

I often feel like a coin in one of those charity whirlpool collecting domes. Imagine you are a 2p coin that has been rolled in through one of the wee slits in the side of the dome. Let’s think of this as a really good roll: the coin goes round and round in tight circles and covers almost every part of the ellipse. My life feels like this roller coaster ride. Round and round in circles – whilst each circumlocution may start at a different point due to what I have learned and experienced (it most often doesn’t feel like that). Occasionally as I metaphorical fall through the hole and look back at how far I’ve come I can see my progress. During these rare times where my self-esteem rises a little and I’m flying through the dark void of the unknown, I get a little respite.

However, I’m just in the space between fractals and in far too short a time I’ve hit the next whirlpool vortex. And round and round I go; feeling sick and dizzy all over again.

My creativity follows the ellipse too. My fine motor skills are not good enough for me to be a fine artist. But I’m extremely creative, I love: knitting, cross-stitching, and card marking etc. People don’t understand my creativity. I often design projects myself. The patterns are pretty useless to me. I can’t decipher cross-stitch grids or knitting patterns. I will often start a project without knowing what the finished article will be. Numerous people ask, ‘What are you knitting?’ I might reply ‘A square, for now’. They are often not happy with this answer.

I’d like to say not every journey needs a defined end point. Travelling along the path can be its own reward. Please let me ride the roller coaster of the vortex as a thrill ride for a change: rather than just feeling under-the-weather all the time!

Doreen Kelly, Dyslexia Scotland member and volunteer

 

Dyslexia and Art School

Dyslexia is a common distinction of the creative individual, with many young people attending art college falling into similar statistics as follows.

At Central St Martin’s College of Art and Design research by Dr Steffart found that three-quarters of the 360 art foundation students assessed have a form of dyslexia. Dr Steffart designed a series of six tests of verbal, written and spatial ability for the students. Their intellectual and visual spatial skills were at a superior level – but they had many problems with reading, writing and spelling. Independent

We know that this can cause great barriers to some subjects but you would imagine that art and design would be an area that if you were struggling with dyslexia then things would be much easier.

However, I work with students in my role at Portfolio Oomph supporting them making an application to art college or creative courses at University. One thing that has struck me, in the last 8 years since the inception of the colleges/unis using a digital portfolio to assess a student’s skills and creative capabilities, how much the organisational ability that is affected by dyslexia can really disadvantage a student.

The creation of a digital portfolio is a digitising of a student’s portfolio (drawings, paintings, sculptures etc) and arranging it to clearly demonstrate the creative process. Each college, and sometimes each course, has differing guidelines on how many images they require. They request your images categorised into research / development, final outcomes and often context (the artists and designers you are inspired by and your influences). The pixel size is limited as is the file size and type, to 200kb or 1mb of .jpeg format.

If you’re bamboozled by this, you’d not be alone.

For some courses the digital portfolio is the first part of the selection process and if they rank highly here, they will be called for interview. Other colleges use only the digital portfolio (along with their UCAS application) to select potential students.

Furthermore, many courses ask for a 500 word statement in addition to the UCAS statement, which is yet another challenge to write concisely and succinctly with passion and relevancy for their subject and college.

Art college is not just about painting pictures these days, has it ever been? More and more there is an expectation that the student’s application imbues an intellectual ability via the portfolio, UCAS statement, 500 word statement and interview. As Dr Steffart’s research defines, creative students can be intellectually gifted and their art can be the vehicle. However, if they struggle to organise and prepare sufficiently this can be critical.

So, to summarise, some courses have a 4 tier selection process requiring sustained organisation, time management and planning over a period of approx. 7 months.

The competition for creative courses is high and it’s because of this that I established Portfolio Oomph, an online hub to practically support students in all aspects of making applications to creative further and higher education.

Making a plan and being organised, thinking ahead from September about what each college requires, deadlines, content etc. is a good start to the year when you’re applying. Ensuring that you have a personal interest in your idea/themes is essential so that you can more easily express your commitment and passion for it. Use­­ the colleges’ language when talking about ‘trying things out’, ‘making mistakes’ (which are important parts of the creative process and need to be celebrated!) use research, development etc.

Finally, like most things, there is help and support out there if you seek it.

 Written by: Julie Read is the founder of Portfolio Oomph 

Dyslexia, Mental Health and Stigma

Dyslexia is not a mental illness, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect one’s mental health and it can often lead to a mental illness, like depression or anxiety, because of the ripple effect dyslexia can have on one’s whole life – from brain processing, to self-esteem, to work, to independence and isolation. However, the words ‘mental health’ and ‘mental illness’ still carry a lot of stigma. So, if you’re finding the label dyslexia stigmatising, it’s likely you’ll also hate any other labels, especially relating to your mental health.

Well, here’s my opinion: Having mental health difficulties is no less stigmatising than having physical health problems. It’s all part of being part of this world.

  • Let’s look at asthma. You get medicine for that when needed. You avoid certain environments, pets, or hill walking, to not provoke an asthma attack. You get regular check-ups. You talk openly about it. You even write it down on forms, declaring it without a second thought. It’s perfectly fine. You can’t help it. You were born that way. Your body isn’t functioning like people without asthma but that’s ok.
  • If you break a leg, you get a cast on it. You avoid mountain climbing and running etc. People will ask you openly what happened and you’ll answer as keenly. You get help and support – maybe even a physio. You know you’re currently limited in how you can live your life, but it doesn’t define you.
  • You’re off sick with the flu. You’ve been to the doctor; they prescribed rest and fluids. You stay off work. You tell your manager – you even throw in an extra cough for emphasis. You moan to anyone who’ll listen because a bit of extra pity feels good. You binge watch TV and stay in bed all day. People tell you to relax and offer their help. You might even get your meals served in bed. It’s nice.
  • You can’t get out of bed because you’re feeling depressed. You watch TV but then feel guilty. You don’t want to tell your manager the real reason you can’t come into work. You don’t tell your friends either because you did once, and was told to ‘get over it’. Why are you even depressed, you ask yourself? Life’s good. What do you have to be upset about? Ok, so you did have that ‘thing’ the other day where you were put on the spot and you couldn’t read what you were asked or write what you were supposed to. It reminds you of the other children laughing at you at school. It wasn’t fine. It made you feel lonely. You’ve been told you have dyslexia. It’s not nice. You don’t want to declare it on forms. You feel you should somehow be able to overcome it, unlike asthma. It defines you, unlike a broken leg.

Why is a broken body acceptable? Why is breaking your leg ok, but struggling with your mind because you were born that way, not? How do we hope to change the stigma if we do it to ourselves?

I have dyslexia and am currently trying to find out if I also have dyspraxia. I found these terms very stigmatising once, until I realised it explained all the things about me that I hadn’t been able to understand; the things I had criticised myself for – and instead of stigmatised I felt freed. It was a release. After all, the many names I’d called myself throughout the years were labels too, like ‘stupid’ or ‘clumsy’. However, all the self-doubts I’d had growing up, led to low self-esteem and spells of depression.

I still get anxious when I’m asked to read out loud, but instead of letting that anxiety build, I just say I don’t want to as I’m dyslexic and that’s that. I also say whenever it comes up that I have depression and what I’ve found is that every time I’m honest – instead of pushing people away or feeling ashamed – other people feel braver and say they have problems too. My honesty, instead of isolating me, brings me closer to others. My openness about my struggles breeds inclusion instead of exclusion. That doesn’t mean everyone ‘gets it’ or accepts it – there are still judgemental people out there and there always will be – but it’s not about being accepted by others anymore; it’s about being accepted by myself and I now do, which has taken away from my sense of stigma.

Terese Smith – guest blogger

_______________________________________________________________

I found these TED Talks very inspirational and helpful. Maybe you will too:

Emotional first aid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2hc2FLOdhI

Vulnerability: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCvmsMzlF7o

Shame: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psN1DORYYV0

Thank you for reading and I hope you found this post interesting. What’s your experience of stigma? Have you seen examples of – or experienced – how dyslexia can lead to other mental health problems? Any advice on how to cope and feel better? Please comment below.

A film about dyslexia made by dyslexic people…

I have dyslexia and this issue is very close to me since I live with it on a daily basis.  I feel strongly about telling the story of dyslexia in the form of film and I think it’s an ideal way to portray the experience.

We’ve been planning and developing the idea of making a film about dyslexia now for a year. We have decided to start a crowdfunding campaign to raise the funds to make this important film.

I volunteer with Dyslexia Scotland and help manage their YouTube channel. Over this time I have met and interviewed many people with dyslexia. I have been blown away by the stories and the amazing people I have met over the last two years.

I feel I’ve been working my whole life to this point. I’ve been heavily affected by dyslexia my whole life, and after being involved with Dyslexia Scotland, I have realized I’m one of so many children, adults, youths, elderly, mothers, fathers, teachers, footballers and scientists living with dyslexia.

Back to the film! Issue-based documentaries are very effective at telling the story to a large audience and with the rise of the internet and platforms such as YouTube and Facebook; it has never been easier to distribute stories in an engaging way to target groups of people.

We will make this film to let people know what it feels like emotionally and physically to live with dyslexia, we will tell personal stories. The crew and people involved in the production of this film are dyslexic and this will add to the authenticity of the film.

Please go to our funding page to find out more about how you can help us make this important film, contribute and/or get involved. Please click on the link below:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/dyslexia-film-video/x/15500667#/

Trevor Thomson

Media Professional and Dyslexia Scotland Volunteer

Guest blog: Pupil Inclusion Network Scotland

Educational inclusion and the poverty-related attainment gap are given a lot of focus. It’s often said we have some of the best legislation, policy and guidance to help us take on such challenges. We probably do. However, when you are in the job of supporting so-called vulnerable, marginalised or excluded children and young people with learning or schooling it feels hard going on the ground. When you are a parent or carer struggling to keep your child motivated and engaged with learning, when it seems little about the system is on your (or your child’s) side it can be frustrating – no, exhausting.

The real challenge then seems not to develop more policy, but to act to tackle the practical day-to-day embodiments of inequality and exclusion. It’s what we do to really make a difference that matters. This is where PINS hope to come in. The Pupil Inclusion Network Scotland (PINS) is a national network funded by the Scottish Government. The network operates online and our interests range from the early years through to post school learning. It’s a network for professionals working in any capacity with children and young people as learners – we are particularly interested in connecting with workers from community and voluntary sector agencies who make up about half of our 1300 members.

In a recent PINS blog educationalist David Cameron hit the nail on the head when he recognised that when it comes to inclusion there doesn’t seem to be a plan. What he proposed was that there should be more commitment to learners and less to slogans, with a range of provision to meet a spectrum of need. If PINS is to be of use as a network then it needs to both connect those involved in education with what’s good about what we do, and then also pose some challenges that point in the direction of making it better. Our focus then is on keeping practitioners informed and being a critical friend when it comes to Scottish Government and other public bodies.

Practically, PINS members receive monthly e updates, membership is free, individuals join via the link from the home page. The rallying cry is – come join us! http://pinscotland.org/

Colin Morrison

Follow us on twitter @PINScotland

The best laid plans…

[Disclaimer: I am dyspraxic, but planning and organisation can be issues for people with dyspraxia and dyslexia.]

Planning ahead is difficult for me – there, I’ve said it! Some people might be surprised to hear me say this, as they’d say that I’m quite an organised person. However, it is something that I have to work very hard at and I have many strategies in place to help me.

I have a previous work colleague to thank for some of the strategies that I use today. She was a very organised PA to a Director and sat down with me to try to help me with some strategies, as I was feeling very overwhelmed with my workload at that time.  These strategies included:

  1. using coloured folders with the days of the week and ‘week commencing…’ folders. So, rather than feeling overwhelmed with all my workload, using the folders to put upcoming tasks into. These would release me from the anxiety that I had so much to do and didn’t know where to start – I didn’t need to worry about these tasks until that day/week.
  2. using my outlook calendar to plan my ongoing work and development tasks;
  3. to only use my Outlook calendar rather than a paper diary and Outlook. Using both had meant that I kept forgetting to update one or the other and double-booking or missing meetings.

These strategies seem to have worked for me for the past few years. However, the best laid plans don’t always work, as real life gets in the way. I get quite anxious when an unexpected task or project lands on my desk.  If it’s an urgent task like information for a report, then I need to stop my planned work to do the urgent task, which I know many people would understand in the circumstances. However, the difficulty for me is getting back on track with the outstanding task, after completing the urgent task.

I analysed my actions in a similar situation that occurred recently. I had a couple of big development tasks to do that week where I needed to analyse and make decisions, as they impacted on upcoming work and meetings. However, I was asked to provide some information for a report that had a quick deadline. After procrastinating with a recycling task (why?!), I managed to complete the task before the deadline (much to my surprise). However, I then found it difficult to get my head back into the mindspace to analyse the collated information and make decisions. I think that the cartoon below (by Erin Human) illustrates this situation exactly:tendril-theory

When you have planning difficulties, I feel that it’s very important to have an understanding and supportive manager. I’ve been fairly lucky in my working life as most of my managers have been very supportive.  I did have one manager in the past who micro-managed me and my planning and organisation difficulties made working with her very difficult. She and I were very similar in a lot of ways, but she couldn’t understand what I was doing with my time. I spent a lot of time in her office, justifying the time that I’d taken to complete a task or report. To be fair, though, at that time neither of us knew that I was dyspraxic.

I only discovered that I was dyspraxic in 2015, so I’m still learning about the way that it impacts on my planning and organisation. I’m lucky now that I have a very supportive and understanding manager.  I do still find planning and organisation tricky, but the difference now is that I can be kinder to myself when plans do go awry.

Helen (Volunteers Manager)

 

Death of a dyslexic journalist

The death of the Sunday Times journalist, AA Gill, has been in the news recently because he was an amazingly eloquent writer. He had a wonderful ability to describe situations using a prolific number of adjectives and similes.  But he should also be remembered for his severe dyslexia. He was born in Edinburgh but when his parents moved south he was sent to a “progressive” school in the south. This was the early 1960s and despite it being allegedly progressive he was labelled stupid and eventually he just “checked out”. After a period of alcoholism and unsuitable jobs, he took up cooking which led to teaching and to one of his students asking him to write an article on food for a magazine. The rest is history, as he became a well known restaurant critic – but such was his unique style of writing that he wrote on any subject which interested him.

An extract from his obituary in his own Sunday Times: “It still took him three weeks to read a novel and he could not spell. ‘I couldn’t tell you what an adjective is’ he once said, ‘people tell me over and over again but it just refuses to go in’. Menus presented a challenge. ‘I read hugely, just very slowly’. He wrote in his own form without paragraphs or capital letters and then dictated all his copy”. The Sunday Times employed a copytaker for him throughout his journalistic career. His last article was written in hospital with the help of his copytaker who described the draft of the article, “the computer was filled with runic-looking words muddled by his dyslexia”. The article was published on the day of his death and was about the compassionate care he had received from the NHS. In his true descriptive style he described his extensive cancer as “the full English breakfast”.

Extract from an article written by Jeremy Clarkson about his friend Adrian Gill, published in Sunday Times 18/12/2016:

“He died last weekend, leaving us with a body of work that beggars belief. It beggars belief partly because he didn’t start writing until he was 38 but mostly because of his profound dyslexia. He’d have had a better chance of getting his letters in the right order if he’d lobbed a tin of alphabet soup into a ceiling fan. He’d often text me to say where we were having lunch and I’d have to use a Turing decoder to work out what the bloody hell he meant. “Twersy”, for instance, was “the Wolseley”.

The way Adrian dealt with this was a lesson to all sufferers today. History was his favourite subject at school but he always got a bad mark, so he asked his teacher why. You’re one of the best in class, said the teacher, but you’ve got a problem with your writing. Adrian decided angrily that he didn’t have the problem; the teacher did. And he vowed ever afterwards to make it someone else’s problem, not his own. Adrian struggled, too, with reading. It would take him half an hour to read the inscription on a statue or a war memorial, which is something he did a lot, and yet somehow he knew everything about everything.”

Susie Agnew, Dyslexia Scotland Board Member