Join the Mozilla Festival’s neurodiversity space in 2021

Calling all

Artists, Illustrators, Film makers, Musicians, Technologies, Writers, Educators and Community organisers using a neurodiversity lens in your works.

Last year the Neurodiversity space was brand new and it was a fantastic space full of good sessions.

The deadline is Monday 23rd November and Mozfest as mentioned previously, this year will be a hybrid conference but mainly online.

Get your sessions in now.

Its Dyslexia week

80% of people do not get diagnosed with dyslexia

As a proud man with dyslexia, I’m always happy to talk honestly about it with people willing to really listen about my superpower.

If you spend any time with me, you will get a sense of how my mind will blend from one thing to another. Its that flow state which my mind feels comfortable in but others wonder how I made that leap? I actively have to stop myself from doing it. Thinking about what I should write for the week I just started writing as my mind works…

One important thing to say always is, each person is different and each person with dyslexia has different experiences and different ways of managing or thriving. Some struggle all their lives trying to fit into a neurotypical world. I remember when I heard Dr Jonathan review Disability: the book, there was a quote which stuck me.

“some people have physical impairments, but it’s society through exclusion, through stigma, through oppression that makes people disabled”

I found this quite powerful. Dyslexia is classed as a disability and the quote above summed up a lot. The stigma of dyslexia from a stereotypical society is what makes people with dyslexia disabled… Although its exactly right, I don’t feel disabled in anyway, except when I rub against societal norms.

All the thoughts over the weekend

Last year I asked at the Mozilla Festival in the brand new Neurodiversity space. What do people think of when they think about when thinking about dyslexia? The results were different from what I was expecting. Zero of them said disabled or indicated that. However I had put up a bunch of the M.I.N.D strengths straight out of the Dyslexic Advantage. A book I recommend and lend to other people with Dyslexia when ever I can.  I recently subscribed the dyslexic advantage site as it helps fund more academic research, which is very much needed.

When they asked me to be interviewed, I of course happily said yes!

I will never forget the conversation myself and Kate (two dyslexic minds in conversation) had for the listening project. A conversation which you could hear on BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio Manchester and finally in the national archive. Only half the dare/bet/conversation has actually happen with Kate taking me to Ireland in a bright yellow camper van.

Ian and Kate

We just bounced off each other and it sums up the good things which can happen when you have confident dyslexics in a room. Of course its not all positive as describe in the posts what is daily life like and what its like to love someone with dyslexic (something I was expecting a lot more criticism about, although I likely did most of the damage previously).

A lot comes from experiences and talking with other people with dyslexia. Lots cover it up or won’t reveal it to others, but they have good reason. Like lots of others I was finally diagnosed in University not junior school although they had thought I might be dyslexic. I do wonder about what might have been different if I was rightly diagnosed back in junior school?

Think about all those young people growing up (even now) not aware of their strengths. All those people who don’t understand how powerful it can be. Of course there is a petition for this.

My dyslexic advantage audio interview

During the last few months I have recorded a number of podcasts on a number of different subjects; form Tech for good live blacklivesmatter specials, a late night conversation with Tara Hunt to a discussion with Cathy about the future.

I did also recorded one for Sam talks which will go up soon (about Adaptive podcasting).

However I was very humbled to be asked to recorded one with the fine folks at the Dyslexic Advantage. I half mentioned it previously but it went live last month under the inspirational people category. Its members only content, so I can’t send you a link, however I highly recommend being a paid member if you are dyslexic, are a partner/parent of someone with dyslexia or would like support the further research into dyslexia.

The folks behind the Dyslexic Advantage were happy for me to share this interview and I will remind people (they never asked for this). The Dyslexic Advantage is a 501(c)3 charitable organisation that needs support. Support via the Premium subscriptions and donations are welcomed.

The interview is a in-depth discussion about my dyslexic journey from an early age to where I am now. Listening back to it, it sounds like I had it all planned out but honestly I didn’t. I did have a certain amount of foresight about where I wanted to be based on my experiences. There was certainly a lot of decisions about rebelling against the status-quo and finding my own trajectory forward. If you want to see the full list of recommendations for young people its here.

Don’t forget the book is a great book to get! You can get it in ebook, audiobook and physical form.

My User Manual

Profile pic 2019

Hi I’m Ian and I’m referred to by ‘he/him’ pronouns

Here is my user manual, as first discovered in Cassie Robinson.‘s blog post and written about in my new years resolutions for 2020. Everything is work in progress and I may move this to a page instead of a blog entry.

Last updated on 31/12/2019

Conditions I like to work in

  • I like a medium busy working environment. I find it hard to work in dead silence.
  • I like having my own desk space but pretty flexible as I can work in coffee shops or on my sofa.
  • I like to wear headphones and listen to music mixes, podcasts or audio books while working if its too quiet.
  • I like flexible spaces, with adjustable seating

The Times/Hours I like to work

  • I am trying to start my work day at 10am, I am not a early riser at all.
  • I work best in the afternoon and evenings
  • Think better at night
  • I don’t mind being contacted at most times but I will likely only respond when not busy or have the time. I expect people to respect my decisions when I decline calls.
  • My calendar is private but I prefer if things are set in my calendar so I don’t double book myself.

The best ways to communicate with me

  • Text or instant messenger (signal & text) is the quickest way to get a response from me, but you will get a quick and short reply.
  • Twitter Direct message isn’t the best due to the changes Twitter made to their APIs making my Android & Linux clients slower to get direct messages.
  • Mastodon is better than twitter for communication
  • I will answer my phone and prefer to talk over more complex issues
  • I deal with emails all week and usually respond within a week, unless I’m busy
  • Narratives are generally better than raw data

The ways I like to receive feedback

  • I’d rather have conversations than leave things unspoken or at an inauthentic level.
  • I like receiving feedback face-to-face
  • I respect people with humanity & respect, and expect the same back
  • I see all feedback as a learning opportunity so I like any feedback to include examples and also suggestions on how I / it could be better/different

Things I need

  • I love ideas sessions with people, where we can freely think about what is possible without the if’s and but’s
  • I do need a little time to reflect
  • I need longer paper work in digital form, so I can re-shape it or have an app read it to me
  • Authenticity, I find it harder to take people seriously if there is no authenticity

Things I struggle with

  • Too much critiquing and logical reasoning drains my creative energy
  • If I don’t understand the bigger picture, I find it harder to understand why I should be involved.
  • I find unnecessary opaque processes draining
  • Maintaining the status-quo
  • Surface level conversations over a longer period of time
  • Superstition

Things I love

  • Hearing what others are working on and connecting up the dots of what we are doing together
  • Human conversations over administrative tasks like replying to emails
  • Understanding peoples experiences and influences behind projects
  • Team away days
  • Blue sky thinking
  • Working on the cutting edge
  • Collaboration
  • Working “in the open”

Other things to know about me

  • I am an ENTP
  • I have dyslexia
  • I use interconnected, narrative and dynamic reasoning to make decisions on problems which are logically taxing.
  • I approach problems in a learning as doing way
  • My favorite saying is “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.
  • I bring my whole self to work (we should chat about what this means)
  • I am quite expressive and say what I feel and mean quite openly.
  • Fairness and justice matters to me. If I think someone is not being treated fairly, or someone is having an unfair impact on others, I will call it out.
  • I believe hyperlinks subvert hierarchy, with a rich network of people.

Mozfest10: The advantages of dyslexia?

IMG_20191031_153944

There are a number of blog posts I need to write about the last Mozilla Festival in the UK but I wanted to start with this one about my art piece in the all new neurodiversity space.

DSC_0525

I started a physical mindmap on Saturday morning in the neurosiversity space and hung up information from the dyslexic advantage book, something I have written a lot about. I then invited the public to read and write on postage tags what they thought the advantages of dyslexia look like. These were hung up for others to read and explore.

Mind strengths
The Dyslexic Advantages: MIND strengths

Here is the document I wrote if you want to read the MIND strengths in more detail.

DSC_0535

I left it over the weekend and let people just add more and more. I also had some great conversations with different people about the advantages. One lady didn’t know there were advantages and lived with dyslexia all her life. As a whole lots people were correctly diagnosed at University and College, which is the norm as the book says. I think I met about 4 people who were diagnosed in School.

DSC_0516

I have some great photos and when Mozfest finished I took them with me. Reading them in full it was quite amazing to read.

All the thoughts over the weekend

Here’s the almost complete list (I couldn’t read some of them and I removed the duplicates)…

  • Right maths, wrong numbers!
  • Creative
  • Sequencing
  • Non-reading information sensitivity
  • Interconnected thinking
  • Spatial thinking
  • Network of thoughts
  • Advantages?
  • Telling stories
  • Attention to details
  • Improvising & Creativity
  • Pattern recognition / Recognition pattern
  • Ability to tell stories
  • Link themes
  • Empathy to others
  • Empathy
  • Lateral thinking
  • Concept formation
  • Storytelling
  • Crasy?
  • Mapping strengths
  • Roles can lead to success
  • Future prediction
  • Understanding

Glad I did it and the conversations were amazing, shame I couldn’t be around in the ND space all weekend. Massive thanks to the Spacewranglers of neurodiversity for accepting my session and helping out.

DSC_0551

Why I bought the Google Pixel 4?

I decided after watching the Made by Google Pixel event, that its time to upgrade my Pixel 2 with a new phone. The biggest issue I have had with the Pixel 2 recently is the Bluetooth support with my Pebble watch but more importantly the battery life of the phone is down to 18 hours.

The Pixel 4’s camera looks amazing but I was most impressed with the live transcription which google claim works offline and is done completely on the device. This is impressive if it really works, although I expect it won’t be perfect it will be impressive and powerful for myself as a person with dyslexia. Easily overlooked by most people I guess.

There seemed to be more offline and on-device based processing across the google range which is great but I will desperately miss the fingerprint ID because I’m not super keen on the face ID stuff as proven in the recent news.

Brexit: Stay or go and to where?

Flags of Europe

Facing no deal and the abuse of democracy which is happening in the UK. I’m rethinking again my plans for the future of living in the UK. I think its getting to that point when I need to think about cutting my losses?

It doesn’t seem on paper not too horrible but of course there’s a lot more to it than just the logistics…

After much thought, it seems these are the biggest things which are stopping me. Not to say family, friends, my partner, etc are not a big consideration.

Career progression

If the right company/public service organisation got in touch and offered me a position/career similar to my current role but in Europe. I would seriously think long and hard about it; then in this Brexit climate likely accept the offer. Its hard to say, as I love what I do for the BBC and there are great people I work with; but there is no way I can ignore whats happening in the wider country. I’m sure colleagues, management, etc would understand and wish me the best.

Language

I’m not totally sure why but languages don’t come easy to me. I have been to many places in the world, and each time I struggle to remember even the basic stuff (please, thank you, etc). I read there might be difficulty being dyslexic with learning languages. However I’ve never let it hold me back and in a Brexit climate, I believe its certainly worth the struggle/effort!

Looking across

… and where?

Where would I go is a little more fun to think about, but realistically the freedom of movement means I could be flexible… Ideally it would be somewhere with a lot of interest in technology but with a strong public ethos. Somewhere with its own strong creative sector and well thought out public transport system. It would be a place of eventfulness and cosmopolitan culture.

If I was pushed to name a few places, the cities in the Netherlands, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Belgium and even France? After visiting Antwerp, I have to say the second cities are quite attractive, just as Manchester is to London. (Yes I know Birmingham is the 2nd biggest but thats only one type of metric).

I was reminded that I have friends in many cities who could be extremely useful to ask practical questions and visit sometime.

A shared passion for the brain

How To Retrain Your Brain Funzing talk in Manchester

How to Retrain Your Brain was my 3rd Funzing talk I have been to. The 1st I wasn’t that impressed with, while the 2nd one (Neuroscience of Decision Making) was great. With my interest in power of the brain. I’m happy to say retrain your brain was

I had no heard of Lisa Upton but during the evening hosted at MadLab, we got to learn a lot more about her.

Just over a year ago, Lisa was faced with a decision that would change her life forever. She had to decide whether to have awake brain surgery to remove a tumour which lay deep inside her brain in the left temporal lobe, close to the area responsible for speech and language. This decision came with extremely high risks – having the operation meant that she could have a stroke, may have to learn to talk, read and write again, or worst-case scenario, not survive the surgery.

Not having the operation meant living a life with four/five epileptic seizures every day and the chance that the ticking time bomb inside her brain could go off at any moment and this could take her life.

Lisa made the brave decision to have surgery.

It was weird hearing Lisa talking about her experience and noticed some interesting parallels in my own experience and outlook on life.

In the months following her operation Lisa’s life changed beyond measure, she thought about life in a completely different way, she approached things with a different attitude and as a result of this, saw new and amazing opportunities presenting themselves every day.

Its incredible to see the opportunities just presenting themselves. I’ve lived by those opportunities ever since. I always remember Derren Browns show about the secret of luck, facing my fear of injections (Belonephobia), facing the fear of rejection, going on dating shows and much more…

Lisa wanted to understand why this was happening and couldn’t accept that it was just “all part of the recovery”. She spent months researching the brain and its many functions, spending time with neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuro-researchers, neuropsychologists and patients at The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery.

Now thats really cool, if I hadn’t spent so much time in hospital and had the issues I had; I likely would have gone back to Salford Royal to thank the staff again years later. But spending time would have been amazing (too be fair it still would be).

With a heart filled with gratitude, Lisa will share with you the amazing things that she learnt about the brain, and how we are all capable of reprogramming our brains so that we can achieve greatness and euphoria.

I reflect back on a blog I wrote years ago, while trying to explain to others how different life was since. My parents always thought I’d want to forget about the whole thing but I refuse to forget. I didn’t put my cards away for a whole year and still have them stored away even now. It gives me power and brings a new emphasise to life. Some people near me noticed how much I changed and some couldn’t quite comprehend the changes.

Lisa and others have called it living a conscious life. Its something I’ve noticed in myself, but weirdly very fitting with some of the dyslexic advantages, especially living in the moment. It might not come as a surprise the doctors also found an increase in the right brain activity (usually commonly associated with dyslexics, I know this is massively contested!) in Lisas brain. This  reminded me of the early months after my brush with death, it was suggested by the professionals that I might have forgotten/unlearned a lot of my coping mechanisms for dyslexia. Almost switched back to my natural state of some kind?

It also reminds me I need to do more about writing my gratitudes down following Sarah Raad’s workshop at Thinking Digital Newcastle last year.

I honestly really enjoyed the talk and it was a joy to hear from someone else as interested in the brain/mind due to similar reasons…

Do you trust grammarly?

grammarly - better writing made easy

Been looking at Grammarly for a while and to be fair they have been massively advertising too. Obviously Google & Facebook know I’m dyslexic and I imagine Grammarly are targeting people like me.

But I’m not keen on the process of sending the text to their centralised server. I understand but I think there is another way to do this, however that way conflicts with their business model. Maybe its a another case for something which should be a public service not left to the private sector?

I’m not the only one asking questions; I have been browsing the terms and conditions too and not keen on what I’ve read so far, the privacy policy alone speaks volumes.

I’ve been using Language tool as their privacy policy seems more reasonable to me and it can work offline and in a more decentralised manner.

Be interested to hear how others get on with it, maybe the benefits greatly outweigh the data ethical concerns?

 

What its like to love someone who’s dyslexic?

couple

I saw this blog about bipolar a while ago and thought it would be interesting to try and do something similar for dyslexic. Partly because most people still think of dyslexia as simply a learning condition, and have no idea of the bigger picture especially when it comes to relationships.

I’m going to start this off by being completely honest; loving someone who’s dyslexic can be easy or hard; like loving anyone. Being dyslexic myself, I am pretty bias and may find some of the things pretty easy and understandable. I actually like dating people with dyslexia to be honest, as things seem to make more rational. So this comes from personal experience rather than fact or research papers. I think there could be a sit-com idea out of this, in the same way there is the big bang theory which focuses on academically intelligent but socially awkward characters.

I also used dyslexic and person with dyslexia through-out this post, don’t expect any consistency from me – sorry!

Basically don’t take any of this to heart! Its meant to be light hearted

First thing, not every dyslexic person are alike, in the book the dyslexic advantage; the writers talk about 4 different strengths which also come with some disadvantages. People with dyslexia tend to have a blend of the 4 MIND strengths.

  • M-Strength for Material Reasoning, which is primarily reasoning about the position, form, and movement of objects 3D space
  • I-Strengths for Interconnected Reasoning, which is primarily the ability to spot, understand, and reason about connections and relationships (e.g., analogies, metaphors, systems, patterns)
  • N-Strengths for Narrative Reasoning, which is primarily the ability to reason using fragments of memory formed from past personal experience (i.e., using cases, examples, and simulations rather than abstract reasoning from principles)
  • D-Strengths for Dynamic Reasoning, which is the ability to accurately predict using patterns derived through experience the future or the unwitnessed past

As you can imagine these have a impact, but how it affects relationships is still very unknown and up for debate.

Once again… don’t take any of this to heart, think of it as poking a little bit of light hearted fun.

Usually late

Dyslexics tend to be late or have to work harder to be on time. This can seem like laziness or lack of attention when actually this isn’t as such true. As Victoria says.

Dyslexics live in the “now” and not aware of their schedule or anyone else which often makes them seem as if they are in their “own world”

Expect lots of excuses and don’t take their lateness as a insult because when you are with them.

Dyslexics however are solidly planted in the moment and if they are spending time with you, that is where they are mentally – 100% with you. They may seem distracted as their minds may drift or catapult to a stimulating tangent or many tangents as you chat due to the conversation sparking new and exciting thoughts for them, but they are with you.

Think of it like a state of flow.

Remember that thing…?

Expect to have conversations about favourite media or books, for which the dyslexic can’t remember the actual title. Usually explaining the plot or key moments will awaken the dyslexic mind to the fact they have read/seen/heard/experienced it before. It can be frustrating to have that conversation again and again but once awoken expect vivid retracing; like where they first read that book or which cinema they first saw the film in.

Mishearing and misreading

Dyslexics tend to have extended hearing (hears things not said or apparent to others – maybe something to do with the mind working over time?); this can cause issues which can lead to miscommunication, confusion and misunderstanding. Not exactly what you need in a relationship really. Exactly the same is true of misreading, especially when rushed. Don’t rush them, if you do expect miscommunication and mistakes.

Focus on the bigger picture

Its clear dyslexics have a grand vision and see all the possibilities. Its not that they don’t care about the details, but rather haven’t considered them yet. Once locked into the details, there is a certain amount of  perfectionism which creeps in but generally details are boring… and for boring people (smile).

They tend to be 3 steps ahead but haven’t considered what step 1 or 2 actually are. They tend to work backwards not forwards. Dyslexics tend to have great intuition, think of everything being loosely connected and I imagine its really annoying but some understanding of this will help greatly.

Remember they are holding back their natural state and creativity to fit in a world where its less respected. Go with their intuition as magical things will happen.

Expect the unexpected

Ask a dyslexic for the plan and they will tell you one thing but ask them again in a few days and it will change. Theres a element of keeping all the options/possibilities open and bouncing around the options at will.

This can be exciting because everyday is new but this can also be exhausting. A lot of dyslexics force themselves to routines but left to their own means would happily change it up in a flash.

Things will be lost

Lots of dyslexics tend to misplace things and lose things quite a bit because they put it in the wrong place. Its common for dyslexics to leave things in the fridge, bathroom or at someone else’s house.

This can be seen as absent mindedness but its usually because their mind is working 4 times the speed of others and the details of where things are just don’t matter as much. I can imagine this is frustrating but you can help by, giving nudges of reminders (not too many however!)

Expect lots of contradictions

Consistency isn’t a dyslexic trait. One day its one thing another day its another thing. You kind of need to get use to it, as its easier if its openly discussed and not simply judged. Dyslexics tend to like playing devils advocate a bit, so watch for that.

The mind is simply sexy

Simple as it says, they really love minds and the term sapiosexual really applies here. I’ve looked at this quite a bit and I think its down to the idea dyslexic people can experience thoughts as reality. Dyslexics also tend to be more curious about things then the average person, making them geeky about many things including the brain and ideas.

Expect lots of meta and deep conversations when you really get to know them.

Passion and emotional intelligence

Dyslexics tend to think in visions instead of language. They describe things with passion, are highly intuitive and insightful (hence the 3 steps ahead). They tend to take in or perceive through all their senses not just what they are reading or seeing.

This means a simple story can turn into something quite a bit more than expected.

Most neurotypical (not my term, but an interesting one) people are captivated when they meet or hear someone with dyslexia talk. They are totally caught up in the passion, which you don’t hear much. This is why the likes of Steve Jobs could cast his magic (Reality distortion field) They have a change the world stance which can be honest and genuine.

Team this up with a level of emotional intelligence and maturity not usually seen in most of the population and you got a one heck of a partner.

Give them space and be flexible

Don’t give up. It’s worth it in the end. I promise!

Serious point…

Saying all this, it really depends if they know and embrace their dyslexia? Many don’t know they have dyslexia and/or actively fight against it causing many other problems like low-self esteem and depression as they fight to be neurotypical.

Its a real shame and really blows me away when I meet people who have been diagnosed with dyslexia but are forced to keep quiet (hide in the wardrobe?) because of the shame they will face. This can be the difference between having a job or not sometimes. So many people I have met, work 4x as hard to make sure no one notices their mistakes, difficulties and natural state.

Changing perceptions of dyslexia #Madebydyslexia

#madebydylexia
Jody shared with me news of Richard Branson’s new charity Made by Dyslexia

Sir Richard Branson launched a new charity, Made by Dyslexia, at the world’s first “dyslexic sperm bank” this week, a concept created and produced by Y&R London. Made by Dyslexia is a global charity led by successful and famous dyslexics, and its purpose is to help the world properly understand and support dyslexia.

Absolutely!

Made by Dyslexia will campaign to change perceptions, so that dyslexia is seen as a different way of thinking rather than as a disadvantage. Working with experts and successful dyslexics, it will develop campaigns, tools and tests to explain dyslexic thinking. Many of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, artists, and tech professionals are dyslexic, including Sir Richard Branson, demonstrating that dyslexic people can achieve great things when they focus on their strengths and get the right support in school.

Indeed… Recent reading of the dyslexic advantage further confirmed to me what I already knew. Dyslexia in the right environment can be a huge advantage.

The “sperm bank”, while not accepting actual donors, was chosen as a theme and setting for the launch because some sperm banks have not let dyslexics donate until very recently, and have even described dyslexia as a “neurological disease”, highlighting how far peoples’ understanding of dyslexia still needs to change. One in ten people are dyslexic, accounting for more than 6.5 million people in the United Kingdom, so this is a major issue.

Yes that sperm bank which was deeply depressing news and I already wrote about.

So great to poke fun at the stupidity of that sperm bank story.

The dyslexic success which is IKEA

059/366

It was Zoe who pointed me at the secret taxonomy behind IKEA’s product names. I always knew there was something behind the product names but had no idea it was all the idea of a dyslexic man thinking about the world and where things fit within it.

Bookcases are named after professional occupations (Expedit means shop keeper) or boys’ names (The bestselling Billy bookcase is named after IKEA employee Billy Likjedhal). Outdoor furniture is named after Scandinavian islands (Äpplarö an island in the Stockholm archipelago and Västerön is in Aaland). Rugs are named after cities and towns in Denmark or Sweden (Ådum, Stockholm, Silkeborg), while bed sheets, comforters and pillowcases are named after flowers and plants. (Häxört or circaea lutetian is an herb in the primrose family).

The rules for naming were devised by IKEA’s founder Ingvar Kamprad, who struggled with dyslexia and had trouble remembering the order of numbers in item codes.

This lead me to find out more about Ingvar who I knew had a checkered background, especially with the Nazis.

I didn’t know he was dyslexic but this strikes such a cord.

One day, it is reported that Ingvar Kamprad overheard one his draughtsman (a kind of designer or engineer) named Gillis Lundgren. The man had difficulties fitting a table into a transport. After many unsuccessful trials he shouted out loud: “Oh God! Let’s pull off the legs and put them underneath!” Ingvar Kamprad understood that his employee was correct in his assessment of the situation. Moreover Kamprad understood the potential of this remark.

Soon afterwards IKEA introduced new product lines of furniture which were designed to be sold unassembled. In this way the cost for manufacturing (no more assembly) and logistics (standard transport costs due to optimized measures) could be reduced significantly.

Great insight, which started a great business… Should have known

 

Dyslexics thriving in the workplace

Reading the Dyslexic Advantage
Quite a few people have said good things to me since I posted about reading the dyslexic advantage. On Saturday I finished the whole book and although there are so many great sections the last one had so much to talk/blog about

The last section which is all about work, and so very fitting…

For individuals with dyslexia, good-fitting jobs have several common features. First, they engage strengths and avoid weaknesses. As we’ve discussed, many individuals with dyslexia excel in big-picture reasoning, or the ability to see the overall features, “contours,” or implications of objects or ideas. The occupation or position in which they best display this ability depends upon which MIND strengths they possess, but as a general rule, jobs that fit individuals with dyslexia well stress problem solving, troubleshooting, fixing things, coming up with new ideas, thinking about what’s missing or not being addressed, or telling stories (e.g., sales, counseling, coaching, advertising, entrepreneurship).
[…]
In contrast, individuals with dyslexia often struggle with fine-detail processing, mastering routine procedures to the point of automaticity, or rote memory. As a result, they often find that jobs that stress repetition, efficiency, consistency, attention to details, use of procedures, application of fixed rules, or routine processing tasks (especially clerical tasks that involve the manipulation and use of written symbols) are a poor fit.

I can’t tell you the cognitive pain of repetition, I find it super uncomfortable and far prefer the new and unknown. My mind wonders and before long I’m innovating my way out of doing the task as is. Better way to spend my cognitive surplus?

After choosing a job that seems to be a good fit, individuals with dyslexia should work hard to optimize that job environment by being proactive in pursuing opportunities, self-advocating with supervisors and co-workers, building partnerships, pursuing leadership opportunities, and using technologies to maximize their productivity.
Many individuals with dyslexia are especially good at spotting opportunities that others have missed and then aggressively and proactively taking advantage of those opportunities. Professor Julie Logan cited this ability as one of the most common characteristics she’s observed in the dyslexic entrepreneurs she’s studied.
We’ve also observed this ability in many of the individuals with dyslexia we’ve interviewed—and not just in business. Astrophysicist Matt Schneps told us, “One thing I’m very proud of is that I’m very good at taking advantage of opportunities. If I see something I think is useful for me, I think about how I can make the most of it and take advantage of that.” Because of this ability (and strong self-advocacy skills like those we’ll discuss later), Matt has been able to enjoy four entirely different careers over the past thirty years, all with the same employer.

Making and taking those opportunities is a big thing, which I’m certainly hard-wired for. Most people take and give out business cards as a brush off but I take them seriously. I do like to meet or follow up, see if theres a chance for collaboration. I’m also generally interested in the person and if I can connect them with someone else I might know.

A second key feature of jobs that fit individuals with dyslexia well is that they engage interests. While everyone works better on tasks they find interesting and enjoyable, individuals with dyslexia are often especially dependent upon interest to produce their best efforts. In contrast, when tasks fail to engage their interest, they often struggle to perform well and remain focused. This is largely because many of the rote or automatic skills needed to perform routine tasks require more focused attention for individuals with dyslexia. This need for heightened attention can be difficult to sustain unless there are things about the job that are especially interesting. When work heightens interest and mood, dyslexics typically respond with greater creativity and performance.

Absolutely, like most people I assume but I guess I actively find my mind drifting away to more interesting things. Focus is difficult when not in my wider area of interest. I mean I’m curious about lots of things, so its really got to be something poor/bad for me.

A third key feature of jobs that fit individuals with dyslexia well is that they focus on results rather than on methods. Many of our interviewees mentioned that they often perform tasks in unconventional ways—frequently of their own devising. For example, more than half told us that they solved math problems differently from how they were taught by using unconventional methods that made more sense to them.

This is something I’ve known for a long while, I can’t help but find alternative ways to do things. This is why if you tell me a task without the bigger context/picture I find it frustrating as hell. I’m always thinking about the final impact not the individual steps to get there. Those are just details to me. Reminds me of Do you have humility, a sense of craft and can you hustle?

Jobs that allow flexibility can open the door to success for dyslexics. It’s often while devising new methods for routine tasks that dyslexics come up with innovative approaches that save time, effort, and expense and improve outcomes for everyone.
[…]
There is evidence that this kind of flexibility is often more easily found in positions very near the top or the bottom of the structures of large organizations but in shorter supply in the middle. Professor Julie Logan has found that although many large corporations have CEOs with dyslexia, fewer than 1 percent of middle managers in such firms are dyslexic.

Now this is very interesting detail… Be interesting to look into the stats for the BBC via the BBC’s Neurodiversity project.

Some large companies, like his former employer Intel, manage to maintain their flexible attitudes despite their size. Douglas Merrill also told us that supporting this diversity in thinking styles was one of his primary goals as chief information officer at Google. Douglas worked hard to give employees the greatest possible flexibility in choosing the work habits and technologies that allowed them to be their most productive. When a company shows this kind of flexibility, it’s likely to be a good fit for individuals with dyslexia. Of course, there’s no employer that can provide more flexibility than oneself, which is one reason why so many dyslexics start their own businesses.

And theres a long long list of successful dyslexic entrepreneurs. Interestingly the guardian piece pretty much says the same thing as I read in the dyslexic advantage.

Its a great book, I do wish it was more dyslexic friendly to read but the content is certainly incredible.