My Dyslexia Story: Paul Strick
Thursday 23 November 2023
I was diagnosed when I was in the Royal Air Force when I was 29. I have always struggled in education; at school I was labelled as a low achiever and lazy. I’ve always known that I had to work harder than everyone else. It wasn’t until I was doing a HND when my math lecturer announced at the beginning of the class that he was dyslexic, and he would teach us in the dyslexic way. He then went on to explain what dyslexia is and what the symptoms are. It was this point where I thought I may be dyslexic.
I would say the biggest negative was more the long-term psychological impact of being dragged through the education system, where you’re constantly being told you’re not good enough, lazy and to lower your expectations. I have to put a lot of effort into reading and writing. I know that I struggle with listening and taking notes at the same time. I have strategies in place to help me with this.
The positives of how my mind works is that it supports my chosen profession as an engineer. As a logical thinker, I also find pattern recognition and visualisation quite easy. I find this useful when trying to understand how system works, find faults or finding a solution to a complex issue. Also being able to communicate complex subjects in a way that’s easily understood by people without a technical background. I also use hobbies to allow me to explore the creative part of my brain.
From education to the workplace
Until my current employer, I have never had any support. When I arrived onsite with my current employer, my manager at the time knew that I was dyslexic and he had an understanding about it because his son is dyslexic. He asked me if I needed any support and I had an Access to Work assessment.
At school I only ever wanted to join the Royal Air Force and to become an engineer. My careers teacher told me that I wasn’t clever enough to be an engineer or join the Royal Air Force. He asked me to aim for something more achievable. So, when I left education, I got a job on a production line working in a factory. A few years later I taught myself what I needed to know to pass an aptitude test and I joined the Royal Air Force in a technical trade and I’m now an Engineering Manager. Which far surpasses what my careers teacher said I was ever capable of.
My advice for someone who has recently been diagnosed with dyslexia:
Try to understand what dyslexia is, understand how dyslexia affects you both positively and negatively. Accept that there are things that you can’t do very well no matter how hard you try. Find strategies to help you in these areas or try and get some support. Explore the positive of dyslexia, find what your strengths are and celebrate them. Don’t beat yourself up, dyslexia is part of you, it’s not something that’s happened to you.
I want the world to know…
I would like everyone to have a basic understanding of what dyslexia is. There are areas where we do need some support however, I want people to look at dyslexics past and present and think what the world would be like without them. It would be a very different place without the creativity and problem-solving abilities of dyslexics and people need to recognise our strengths and use them in a productive way. Rather than trying to make us comply with a neurotypical way of learning and working.