I am writing to you to complain about an article I read in your online edition on levels of exercise in four-year olds.
The article, once in its body and once in a photo caption, states that “dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD – conditions which can be improved with the correct levels of physical activities”.
I’m afraid that this statement (which is not backed up with any evidence – and the only study to “prove” it has been rubbished by experts) is highly dangerous to people like me who are dyslexic.
Dyslexia is often an inherited condition, it effects the wiring of the brain. It cannot be corrected or cured. Most improvements dyslexic people achieve come from extremely hard work on their part, and trial and error. However dyslexia does not go away. Certain situations, like being under stress or having a bad night sleep means that the dyslexic persons coping mechanism can break down.
As an employee I have been discriminated against at work due to my dyslexia. In one PR company in which I worked I was told dyslexia wasn’t a disability, that my dyslexia didn’t count, I was criticised for the results of a report from a dyslexia test they sent me on – which found me dyselxic, just like the three times before in my life when I’ve been tested. Directors refused to make reasonable adjustments and my line manager presented me with a list of “mistakes” I had made with the monetary costs to the company of each one.
All this happened while the Director who refused to make adjustments kept on telling me what a great place it was to work. Funnily enough after I brought my union in on the dispute the company made me redundant.
This bullying, based on my disability – a protect characteristic – had a severe impact on my mental health. Of course the stress meant I could not effectively apply coping mechanisms and it made my dyslexia worse while I worked there.
The reason I am telling you this is to demonstrate how employers who would bend over backwards to assist an employee with a visible disability, will see nothing wrong with with discriminating against hidden disability.
This position has happened because of decades of dyslexia “jokes” (jokes my own family members made), myths and misconceptions. These are “jokes” which we still see on TV – we’re the only disabled group who it is socially acceptable to poke fun at because of their disability.
Unfortunately your article will feed those myths and misconceptions. There will be another dyslexic out there who when they ask for reasonable adjustments, will have them refused and be told to exercise more by another clueless and ill equipped boss. This will impact on their ability to do their job, their mental health and self confidence.
While I understand that The Independent generally champions the causes of disabled people, with this article you’ve added another brick to the considerable wall we have to climb.
Could you please, please write about dyslexia with more thought and consideration of the damage you can cause people.