Entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson has supported the launch of a new global charity that aims to help the world understand and support dyslexia.
Made By Dyslexia, which was launched at a ‘sperm bank’ in London yesterday (2 May), is led by successful and famous dyslexics. It aims to change perceptions, so that dyslexia is seen as a different way of thinking rather than as a disadvantage.
At the launch, Sir Richard spoke to Made by Dyslexia founder Kate Griggs and fellow ambassador Roland Rudd, founder and chairman of PR firm Finsbury, about his experiences with dyslexia. He also offered advice to young people who are assessed as dyslexic.
Sir Richard said:
When I was growing up, dyslexia wasn’t really talked about, it was just something you had to deal with.
I can honestly say that because I have dyslexia, I look at the world in a different way. Dyslexic people can be hugely creative in identifying solutions to problems, and to coming up with new ways to tackle challenges.
I’m delighted to be supporting Made by Dyslexia. For me, it is really important that we provide young people with the support they need to succeed, and to understand dyslexia as a different and brilliant way of thinking.
Working with experts and successful dyslexics, the charity will develop campaigns, tools and tests to explain dyslexic thinking. Many of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, artists, and tech professionals are dyslexic, demonstrating that dyslexic people can achieve great things when they focus on their strengths and get the right support in school.
Kate Griggs, said:
For too many young people, dyslexia is seen as something that will stop them achieving their dreams. Even worse, thousands of young people are not diagnosed at all, meaning they never receive the support they need. Dyslexia can open doors to people, giving them an insight and creativity which is unrivalled. It is vital that every dyslexic child is identified and supported.
The ‘sperm bank’, while not accepting actual donors, was chosen as a theme and setting for the launch because some sperm banks have not let dyslexics donate until very recently, and have even described dyslexia as a ‘neurological disease’ — highlighting how far peoples’ understanding of dyslexia still needs to change.
Exclusive research from Made by Dyslexia and YouGov highlights the scale of the task at hand:
- Only 3 per cent of people think dyslexia is a positive trait.
- 58 per cent believe that someone with dyslexia will do worse at school; only 2 per cent think they may do better.
- 19 per cent of people associate dyslexia with creativity whereas, according to Made by Dyslexia research, 84 per cent of dyslexics say they are above average in creative skills.
- 13 per cent of people associate dyslexia with lateral thinking whereas 84 per cent of dyslexics say they are above average in lateral thinking skills.
- 12 per cent of people associate dyslexia with good problem-solving skills whereas 84 per cent of dyslexics say they are above average at problem solving.
- 9 out of 10 dyslexics say their dyslexia made them feel angry, stupid or embarrassed.
Roland Rudd said:
Dyslexia is a strength not a weakness. Dyslexics often work harder, take more risks, and look to do things differently. But at school they regularly suffer from lack of learning support, ignorance and a feeling they are not as clever as others. We need to change both the perception of dyslexia and the way dyslexics are taught.
To accompany its launch, Made by Dyslexia has published a new report, Connecting the Dots — Understanding Dyslexia, which can be downloaded from here. It explains both what it means to be dyslexic, and how dyslexia is currently perceived in the UK. It also outlines the charity’s ambitious strategy to bring about real change.