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Stories by successful dyslexics who IDC have helped over the years
Buttle, Executive for a Big 4 Accountancy Firm
I have been doing
actuarial work since 2000. I was
diagnosed as dyslexic in January 2009.
I learned to read
and write before I went to school. I was
the elder child and had support from my mum who herself had some problems
reading. I can read and write legibly,
I’m not bad at spelling and managed to pass my 12 plus exams. I went to an all girls Grammar School
but never connected to the other girls there as I always felt different. Even in primary school I’d always push ahead
myself. By starting on the later, more
difficult exercises to give myself enough time so that I never fell behind and
was always ahead. I gave up wordy
subjects as soon as I could and did homework in those classes. My grammar school never minded about my
English results (I was bottom of the class) as I was always near the top for
the maths and science subjects. I only studied
maths and IT at university and avoided wordy subjects, like economics. My younger brother was diagnosed dyslexic
when he was at university (this was whilst I was doing postgraduate studies).
When I started work
the actuarial graduate and junior jobs involved spreadsheets and hand
calculations. There was no writing and little other communication in the role -
very few e-mails too. I worked for a
single direct manager and therefore had a manageable workload. The timescales
were actually quite long with usually large pieces of work and only
infrequently was there urgent work. The
early actuarial exams were numerical and passed these easily. The later exams are wordy and I passed three
in the eight years to 2008 (none in the last five). I was fairly successful at
this type of job and this environment suited me.
Change of job
In my current role
I’m working for seven different line managers - all competing for resources.
Work is much more wordy although this would have happened in my previous jobs
but later on in my career. Now work is frequently urgent with short changeable timescales
and it is difficult to plan. I can have 10 plus pieces of work on at a single
time and the deadlines change at short notice.
In this new job I
was regularly working late just to get the normal workload done. I would take
my laptop home and work on the train too. In busy periods there simply weren't
enough hours in the day. Weekends and evenings became full of work and this
spiralled out of control. I became more and more tired. I found I became easily
distracted and my team is a particularly sociable/noisy this made it even more
difficult. I had problems coping with the
ever-changing workloads and deadlines in this new role. Problems communicating especially under pressure, appeared more
frequently and I appeared blunt,
inflexible, defensive. This is not who I see myself as and on a personal level,
therefore, I was disappointed in myself.
I received poor feedback from my managers as I was not where I should be
– I was, starting to fail and the extra hours weren't enough anymore.
I knew that slow
reading and writing were indicative of dyslexia and was aware I had these
problems but thought I could manage as extra hours had solved my problems
previously. I have a physical disability and didn’t want another label. As part of the disability group in my
company, I helped with the organisation of a dyslexia event and found out a lot
more. I realised that almost all of my
issues at work were symptoms of dyslexia.
Finally I got up the courage to tell my line manager - I was shaking and
it was one of the scariest thing I've ever done. Her reaction was disbelief,
not understanding how I could have got so far in my career and been successful
in exams at university and had not been diagnosed. Her action was getting HR
and the head of department to arrange funding for an assessment which confirmed
my dyslexia. I was worried and stressed leading up to the assessment and
afterwards I felt relieved but also confused - what now?
I had an assessment
with access to work unfortunately there’s quite a lot of redtape involved and
this provided me with IT software & training and also general training
& mentoring. My line manager was
supportive through this, just trying hard but she just couldn't get it. There
was a breakthrough moment where I remember her coming to see me one morning. Her
fiancé had given her a coloured mind map to plan their wedding. She took one
look at it and said “I can't understand that - give me a black and white list.”
She realised that if she found that difficult than she realised the how
difficult it must be for me to see things in just black and white text. Finally
she understood at least one aspect of my dyslexia which was a breakthrough.
Adjustments were made to my workplace and also my workload. I was removed from
the performance management process for 12 months and feedback was obtained as a
baseline to restart from. This removed pressure to perform and gave me the
space to develop.
Mentioning to me is
the most valuable of the solutions provided. I started to understand why I’m
different, that there are others out there like me and I’m not alone. I hadn't
come that many other dyslexics in my life. It’s interesting and useful to
understand why I react to things the way I do. My confidence is increasing but
I’m finding that social and communication areas are the hardest to work on.
People are noticing the difference in me already. It’s widely known at work but
not in my private life (I haven’t told my parents and I don't have any
intention of doing so). I still feel embarrassed about things I can't do well.
I’m not sure whether that will ever change.
I wish I could have
found a solution to my problems on my own but I couldn’t and needed an
assessment and help from others.
I've changed they
type of work I do and don’t currently get involved in unpredictable work with
high-volume of output and very tight deadlines. I have moved desk to a quieter
part of the office, at least temporarily, to see how things go. I work from
home once a week and this is the most productive day of the week. I use
headphones and some background music to reduce distractions and aid
concentration in the office. I’ve been given lower performance targets in the
first 12 months after assessment to allow me time to learn new techniques and
strategies and for these to become automatic and also time to learn and speed
up using the new software. I talked to
all my direct managers and worked out different ways of receiving work updates,
of planning and of improving communication. I have fortnightly catch-ups with
my manager to discuss progress, issues, mentoring/training, support from the
team and workloads. The only way this will work is by being completely honest.
My confidence has
improved at work and I know I can’t do much about some things, at the moment,
but I'm open about things and finding new ways to work. My communication has improved a lot as well
particularly with regard to being open and explaining when I'm having a bad
day, need support or when I take on too much work. I believe I have the potential to succeed but
need to practice what I been learning.
The exams are a more level playing field now that I type, not write, my
exams. I hope to qualify much sooner
than I would otherwise. I have received the first concrete proof that things
are changing as I passed a written exam – a resit and the first I’ve passed in
Organisation - I
was too structured and this broke down occasionally - now I’ve amended how I
organise myself by being more flexible.
Clear desk – in a chaotic work environment I couldn't get anything
done. Use of lists of lists – I keep
weekly and daily work lists and even have lists of lists and lists at
home. Determination – If I didn’t have
that I wouldn’t have got to where I am now.
All of these aimed to put control and structure in my life. I believe this delayed my diagnosis but also
gave me the opportunity to get where I am today.