At the end of April, BDA ran a very successful conference for adults in conjunction with BRE and the STEM volunteers group on dyslexia. 135 people attended and there was a real buzz right from the get go. All the speakers were excellent and we had some individuals talking briefly about their experience of being dyslexic and the workplace, which brought an extra dimension to the issues under discussion.
Some things really stood out for me. The experiences of the consequences of dyslexia shared by the presenters but also felt and acknowledged by the audience. The strength being demonstrated of “standing together”. The evidence of how therapeutic counselling, described by Pennie Aston of Grooops, can really help those who have grieved at the experience of being dyslexic. The huge numbers in the studies Prof Amanda Kirby is doing which are beginning to be non-ignorable by the Government especially DWP and may result soon in better understanding and services for dyslexic adults.
On the theme of “standing together” Chris D’ Souza of Shell UK’s Enable Group spoke about the BDA’s dyslexia mentoring programme which he had implemented 16 months ago. This pilot has now been made a mainstream programme within Shell UK and the evaluation of it was astounding. One participant said that it was the best mentoring he had encountered in fifteen years of working there, because it could be relevant to him. Chris described positive outcomes in productivity but most especially achieving employee engagement and retention which is an important issue for all organisations.
The conference provided some very welcome optimism. By engaging in mentoring schemes or networks, individuals feel much safer to disclose. They can create more impact within their workplaces by getting together. At BDA, we are seeing a significant increase in requests by individuals wanting to set up dyslexia networks. Are these green shoots, will we see a tipping point soon where the dyslexic community feels confident to demand recognition on a scale commensurate with the numbers affected? I do hope so.
If you want more information on how to set up a dyslexia network within your organisation, do email firstname.lastname@example.org . One of the ten characteristics of successful dyslexic adults, is having a champion which early on is usually a parent, but later is often a mentor or a coach.
Written by: Margaret Malpas, MBE who is Joint Chair of the BDA and an expert in issues affecting adults with dyslexia. Her book “Self Fulfilment with Dyslexia: a blueprint to success” is currently available through all good book stores.