Reply To: Living with ADHD and Dyslexia

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Your stories of a past childhood bring back memories to me. I did not know I was Dyslexic until 35 and officially diagnosed as ADHD until 55, 12 months ago. I have caused so much havoc in my life; teachers standing me on the table to read out aloud at the age of 10, staying awake all night traumatised by the thought of being shown up to my peers. Like you, I am quick to change the direction of the conversation and can talk on many subjects. I flit about like crazy and people often laugh as I can extract great humour from most situations. In fact, comedy is a great outlet for ADHD’ers as we have the wit, the ability to see the bigger picture and bring together often-unrelated events and facts to make a coherent amusing story. ADHD’ers are spontaneous and often inappropriate in what we say because we process fast, are often three sentences ahead of the conversation, dropping in comments apparently unrelated, in reality seeing the direction of flow well in advance. We pre-empt the direction we want the conversation to go to remain interested. Boredom forces us to look about, notice every noise, see every movement, respond to other people’s conversations butting in inappropriately. Boredom forces us to think of many things until one grabs our attention. Your poem is like this, a big, multi-dimensional, exploring the world. It is written by a flock of birds each one wanting to speak. You are so aware of your world that your poetry wants to say many things all at the same time taking you away to a better place. You jump from your body to the sky, from your emotion to pain. You wish to fly away and engage with the world. You are a big picture person with an amazing smart brain. But you have a bit of self-esteem building, like me, and probably many ADHD’ers and Dyslexics, rebuilding what was taken from you as a child by the ones who were there to help you. It’s a life long pursuit.

You may find this next bit hard to grasp but….Your father is a surgeon, a craftsman, a technician of the body. Your mother is a chemist. I am sorry whisperingwings but take them of their pedestal. They are mum and dad and all your world; you love them dearly but they are not geniuses. In the USA and UK these professions may be considered smart, because they demand the highest entry qualifications to study so attract high achievers. I can tell you, I know surgeons and chemists and they are the same as you and me. (Some surgeons are ADHD as this fits with the excitement and risk profile). Society has decided to inflate their status, and wage, as they deal with the most important thing on the modern day agenda, life and survival. They may earn good money but they are not up there with the big boys. Ask them a question of medicine and they may know the answer because they read the books, hear it at a conference, found it on the net. Can they write a poem that really hits the heart? Can they put colour to paper and make something new that makes people feel good. You are up there with them, even so ahead that you left them behind when you were a baby. Creative thought is the most intelligent of all. Nobody told you this as a child and surrounded by the 95% of mundane rat racers (a bit cruel but you get my point), how would you know otherwise. We are all a creatures of our environment. Humans mimic their surroundings. A basic psychological need for humans is to be part of the crowd, to fit in, not to be seen as different. The whole of the modern 1st world is designed to produce clones of ourselves. Our education systems produces clone civil servants, typists, surgeons and engineers. We are all taught the same things and told to behave the same way. We preach ‘No change is good’. Don’t mend it if it ain’t broken. I once heard a well known Dyslexic say how our education system damages creativity. How true is that!

I deal with the best brains in the world, the smarted, biglyest (sorry that my ‘Trump’ bit) educated scientists and I can tell you, repeating what someone else tells you at school, in a book, mimicking a skill that others have shown you, going to university and getting a med degree, or whatever is not the intelligent bit. Intelligent is NEW unheard of unexplored ideas, concepts, bringing together unrelated facts to make a bigger better more valued thing, joining disparate research to make a completely new imaginative idea. Thats what you do at a PhD level. Intelligence is seeing the world in a completely novel way. Painters and Poets are very intelligent but the modern world values those skills less than Chemists and Medics. The emotional quotients, about 7 in all, represent the true breath of intelligence. But modern society picks out the ones of value for today and focuses on them at school with less emphasis on the rest. The most intelligent people in our modern world you’ve probably never heard of; James Clark Maxwell, the man you explained electromagnetism out of almost thin air. He saw the world from such a completely different angle. Michael Faraday, (definitely Dyslexic and probably ADHD) the man who brought us electricity. Those you may know: Michael Angelo, Richard Feynman, Pablo Picasso, Albert Einstein, Stephen Spielberg, real creatives and geniuses. These are the ones I really believe are clever. Not my GP, my manager or my accountant. Creativity is intelligence, not repartition and technical skill and those people have no right to tell you otherwise. What people are actually saying is ‘I earn more money than you, are treated with greater respect in society than you, looked up to by my peers, I am a good person’ so go to college, learn what I learnt, and earn what I earn and you will be a good person. Next time you face you mum and dad, you look at them with your head up high and remind yourself that you think brand new thoughts that no one has ever thought of. And when you look at your work colleagues, you remind yourself that you have more creativity than all of them put together. You would be the one who saved the tribe from disaster ½ a millions years ago by warning of impending danger, well in advance. Sadly, in this world, often people are educated to wield power over those around them. See how a graduate says to non-graduate, I have a degree. See what power that has to a dyslexic who struggled at school. Those comments can be very debilitating, reinforcing the belief that one feels stupid, knowing that we are not, but not being able to prove it. This is why ADHD’ers and Dyslexic must choose their friend, and careers wisely.

My father was an Architect and designed new spaces to live and work in. He was miles ahead of the crowd. My mother was an actress, probably ADHD, beautiful Kinaesthetic learner and an amazing eye for colour and fashion. They did not know I was Dyslexic or ADHD. They could not help me as a child and I suffered for it at school. Now I have learnt who I am and my children (one daughter who is Dyslexic) have made their world fit them. With my and my wife’s help and guidance, we nurtured their skills to the full. My eldest was in NYC 2 months ago planning a Broadway show as she is a set designer in theatres. You should see her design work, all from that creative dyslexic brain.

Microsoft Excel. Become the best Excel person ever. Read the book and find new ways to do what you already know, a great goal. Become the best Excel person in the office and slowly the others will come to you for help. YouTube training!

I can’t spell but if someone else asks me to spell a word, I can spell it for them. Strange but it shows the different pathway the brain uses to process data. Processing in the brain is a very complex mechanisms and the simple fact that I try to remember a word needs a different route to the one when some else asks me to remember that word. Prefrontal lobes, what about them? JB