Dyslexic spies: There are benefits worth waiting for

Last year I came across this article by Oliver Wright on the Independent’s website. It spoke to the teenage me that played up in class, hoping to get sent out, therefor avoiding spellings. It’s a great read and inspiring to all who suffer with dyslexia.


‘It may have been more than 30 years ago now but the weekly misery of English spelling tests is still engrained in my mind. Nesesery. Becose. Rerly. Thort. Or, for that matter, speling itself.

Each week – it was a Tuesday morning, as far I remember – we would spend the first 15 minutes of the lesson being tested on 20 random words. The papers would then be passed around the room for other children to mark. Each week, without exception, I would score 2,3,5 out of 20 (although on one particular memorable occasion I managed zero). The humiliation was compounded by the format: everyone else in the class new (deliberate mistake) exactly how badly I’d done.

But then no one in those days knew much about dyslexia. In the words of my teachers, I was “careless”, “didn’t concentrate” or, if they were feeling irritated, “lazy”. I had a problem without an explanation for it.

Thirty years on, I am still dyslexic, I still can’t spell but am rather more militant about it. In fact – I think it’s your problem. After all, as the dyslexic journalist AA Gill pointed out, you’re the people who thought it was a smart idea to spell phonetically with a “ph”.

But there is a serious point. And this was highlighted at the weekend by the revelation that GCHQ is now employing 120 “neuro-diverse” intelligence officers. These individuals, who suffer either from dyslexia or dyspraxia, are employed precisely because GCHQ has recognised what some parts of society still does not: that these conditions are far from disabilities – they are simply differences. And, arrogantly, I may be worse than you lot at some things, but I’m a whole lot better than you at others.’

See the full article here.

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