Dyslexia Awareness Week 2023
OK Positive's COO, Bob Bazley, shares his experience growing up with dyslexia and ADHD and how he has learnt to manage his dyslexia in everyday life in honour of Dyslexia Awareness Week 2023!
Hi, my name is Bob Bazley, and as a young boy of 6 in the 1970s I was diagnosed with Dyslexia and ADHD. As it's National Dyslexia Awareness Week, I wanted to share how I learnt to manage my dyslexia in everyday life. Firstly, dyslexia is a difference in the way people read, write and process language. We all process things differently but dyslexia makes the standard way of learning not as effective as it could be. I struggled a lot in school with the basics and attended remedial lessons to help me with my English and arithmetic skills. Back in the 1970s, schools didn't really recognise or treat dyslexia as they do these days, but I consider myself lucky to have lived in a residential children's home as they were aware of my dyslexia and ADHD, so I had help with it.
I remember using a ruler as a simple guide to help me keep track of the line that I was reading in books and helped me focus on that line only. The school used to just give me lots of lines to practice repetition of words and sentences by writing them over and over again. Maybe it was intended to help with muscle memory, but I'm not sure it was that useful.
I discovered early on that using technology helped me better manage my dyslexia and focus more, which also helped my ADHD. In Scotland in the 1970s/80s during the October school holidays, you could work for a week (yes child labour!) picking tatties (potatoes) which paid a magical £10 per day! I saved up for a ZX81 Computer which was £50. This little black and white 1k memory touch-flat keyboard was a real game changer for me, I was completely amazed by the things it could do. I learnt BASIC programming on it and spent hours reading and writing little programs on it. The good thing is it would tell me if what I had written was wrong, so I was being helped by having to go back and correct the errors. I know that every magazine that used to come out about computers I would read cover to cover and learn how to focus on getting the details right. This really did help my reading skills as well as my arithmetic. I think my ADHD gave me the power to really want to learn everything about computers, and it helped me to not be distracted by all the other things that my ADHD brain would want to wander off and do (I still do that to this day but now I channel it for analysis of situations and learning new things by being able to process a gazillion things all at the same time!). In today's world, we have so much more awareness of dyslexia and lots of options available to help those with the condition. I love reading, but audiobooks help so much and offers another option to learn without having to read everything from a book that they may miss vital information. We all type either on a computer keyboard or on a phone - I still have to get the hang of the opposable thumbs doing the typing on a mobile phone and still stab my finger at the on-screen keyboard! Using word processors and email applications helps with autocorrection (although you do hear of the odd hilarious email text that was sent with the wrong autocorrected word!), providing a check with the spelling and the make-up of the sentences. Using simple things like a calendar helps, whereas previously you would need to write times and events down and potentially make errors; now it's all digital, on a mobile or computer. There are also hundreds of websites that help with dyslexia and education sites that help you with the reading, as well as being able to have content read aloud to you. Dyslexia doesn't need to hamper your development or growth as a person; more is known about it these days and there is help all around. People are more aware of the condition and that helps a lot. Not feeling guilty about mixing words around or anxious about having to speak in front of others is easier to deal with when you know people are aware. If you have dyslexia, then know that you are not alone and know that you can achieve all that you want to achieve.