A Creative Resilient Dyslexic

17th June 2021

A few days ago the Queens birthday Honours list was announced. As stated within Gov.Uk:

‘Caring Nation’

‘The Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2021 demonstrates the extraordinary efforts made by individuals in all four nations of the United Kingdom during the pandemic.

The List includes those who have worked throughout the crisis, putting others before themselves – from caring neighbours, frontline and community heroes, to those supporting the UK recovery.

The Birthday Honours List 2021 is the most ethnically diverse list to date, with 15% of recipients coming from an ethnic minority background.’

Other honours are for such things as contributions in music, sport, fight against racial discrimination, entertainment, charity etc.

Today I wish to focus on an inspiring dyslexic. Who has overcome a difficult childhood with problems in school, police cruelty, racial discrimination. To adult difficulties which led to a loss of business, marriage breakdown and homelessness together with hopelessness. To receiving acknowledgement for his services to craft, an MBE in this years honours list. A story of resilience, the need for community support and the ability of asking for help when needed.

Jay Blades is probably best known now for hosting the popular BBC TV programme ‘The Repair Shop‘.

He grew up in East London and now lives in rural Shropshire. Last month he published his autobiography which is worth a read:

Jay Blades was only diagnosed a dyslexic when he was 30 years old when he was in university as a mature student. His dyslexia went undiagnosed within his formative school years, teachers often told him he would not amount too much and labelled him ‘disruptive’. He left school at 15 with no qualifications, thereafter he admits some mistakes were taken, but he decided to give education another go later on in life.

The diagnosis of Dyslexia then provided him with the support and help which was needed and lacking in previous years.

In 2015, life hit a very rocky patch. He lost his business, marriage and home. When all hope was nearly lost he finally overcame his resistance to reach out for help and turned to a friend.

The Guardian did publish a short video featuring Jay in May 2014 and later an article in September 2020 and May 2021.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/sep/07/jay-blades-repair-shop-love-loss-liberating-power-tears

The power of community and accepting help is summed up in that article:

“When you have a community that supports you, it gives you that strength to say I can do this.”

Jay Blades has spoken out in many an article or podcast or tv programme with quotes such as:

“The skillset has offered me a sense of purpose despite difficult academic beginnings.”

“Creating something with your hands improves your self-worth and mutes the voices of people who didn’t believe in you.”

“If somethings broken, you can put it back together. If we are broken we need to know how we can fix ourselves.”

Spatial Awareness

Carpenters, Engineers, Architects etc can often excel at being able to see in 3D in their minds eye. To turn a problem or object over in their mind and be able to see a solution to fix a problem. Abilities in Spatial Reasoning is also a strength often found within a dyslexic profile.

Often these are the children who love lego, jigsaws, K’nex and making models.

They maybe visual thinkers, see in pictures and symbols rather than words.

Primary School tests of ability are often the ‘Verbal reasoning‘ type. The classic use of Word problems. Less used in the classroom but still as illuminating are the ‘Non- verbal reasoning‘ type activities . These are good for developing skills and identifying individuals who excel at critical thinking, spotting patterns and connections together with finding solutions.

Non-verbal assessments use diagrams or pictorial representations and do not involve words or numbers. Such as:

In communication, this can be verbal as in written or oral. Or non verbal can be postures, facial expressions, eye gaze, gestures, and tone of voice.

Some dyslexics may struggle with the written aspect but excel orally. Others may find all ‘verbal’ ,written and oral, a difficulty. Non verbal communication can also be confusing for others.

Have you ever struggled to express your ideas in writing or in speech saying, “I can’t explain but I will draw it for you.” It happens to the best of us, look at Einstein!!

Some people think visually instead of verbally. Maybe enhanced spatial abilities come at the expense of certain verbal expression skills?

Everyone is different we all have our weaknesses and strengths. The key is to identify those strengths, develop them and utilise those skills to overcome the challenges.

Until next time, have a good week.

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