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Interview with Aspiration Training’s CEO, Iain Salisbury for Dyslexia Awareness Week
7th – 13th October is Dyslexia Awareness Week (DAW) which is an annual event to raise awareness and understanding of dyslexia. Many people are surprised to hear that more than one in ten of us are dyslexic. Dyslexic strengths around understanding complex information, seeing the big picture and communicating with others, means dyslexia creates great work at all levels, in all kinds of roles and across all industries. Yet, too often, we are failing to empower dyslexics to do their best work.
We have spoken to our CEO, Iain Salisbury about his experience of dyslexia and how this has had an impact on his career.
“My dyslexia is fairly mild and it didn’t even get diagnosed when I was in school. It was suggested to me during my GCSE’s that I might be dyslexic, but I didn’t get any adaptations in exams at this point as was never tested for dyslexia.
The main thing that manifests for me is I really struggle to spell. I didn’t realise fully until much later in life that whereas a lot of people can phonetically spell and sound out a word or learn how to spell it, for me, if I’ve never seen it, I can’t spell it. I’ve come to realise that I have memorised every single word I can spell. So for example, if I hear a name that I’ve never seen before, I really struggle to find a way of working out how to spell it.
It really came to a head for me whilst I was doing my MBA. I studied at the Open University over a number of years and I was working on different modules delivered through workbooks and tutorials. The exams were three hours long and were all hand written. The first few exams weren’t a major problem, but I always scored a lot less in exams than I did in my coursework. Towards the end, my MBA was getting really tough. I realised that I was spending a lot of my time trying to think of an alternative word I could write down, to replace the word I didn’t know how to spell.
At that point, I decided to get myself assessed for dyslexia. Once I had done my assessment and it had concluded that I was dyslexic, it was brilliant. I was able to get extra time in my exams, and I was able to do my exams on a computer. I soon realised that I had been suffering in my exams because of my dyslexia, and not because of my ability to complete the MBA.
So when I look to our learners at Aspiration Training, I am very conscious that we should be supporting them on their ability to do their job, such as being a childcare practitioner or dental nurse. Of course we develop people’s English and maths skills as well, but we have also trained our team to look out for dyslexia and offer additional support to learners who need it.
To overcome my dyslexia, I try to avoid handwriting things. I always use computers, I type everything and I can then spell check and double check things before I email for example. I also have a dyslexia aid app on my phone, so if I say the word the app will spell the word out. There is a massive upside as well, I have a strong memory. I think it’s because I’ve trained myself and my memory without realising all these years, by having to memorise words. I can read reports and remember and retain lots of detail, facts and stats.
We all have challenges. Some people are short sighted, some people struggle to concentrate, others may take longer to learn new information, but I think we’ve all got talents and we’ve got things we are better or worse at. I think my main message would be not to focus on what you can’t do, but rather focus on what you can do and where you can get support. Don’t let dyslexia be a barrier to what you want to do, you should go for it if you want it.
Aspiration Training offer a Distance Learning qualification which is developed to equip learners with the knowledge of dyslexia and other Specific Learning Difficulties, including how they are diagnosed and how individuals can be supported.
To find out more and sign up to our fully funded and accredited course – please follow this link