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My name is Stuart John Byrne and I am currently in the Committee of the Gibraltar Dyslexia Support Group, and have been involved since November 2005 but the Gibraltar Dyslexia Support Group has been around since 1991.

I see dyslexia not so much as a disability but just a different way of thinking and learning which society and namely the education system does not understand and cater for in most cases.

I notice nowadays how it affects my life & relationship. Dyslexia also affects you in ways that most do not realise. Most think about reading and writing, which is one of the many problems, but if you highlight this without mentioning the other problems you can get an unclear picture of what a dyslexic’s life is like.

For example: I have come to notice that when I am tired or weak I feel the effects of my dyslexia more. Obviously if you feel unwell you notice your difficulties more. Some find that they have Dyslexic Days, and can become very clumsy.

Some but not all dyslexics have difficulty with expressing themselves.  That is called “word retrieval” difficulty.  It takes some people with dyslexia longer to “find” the words they need to express their thoughts, and they have difficulty “finding” the exact word they wish to use.

So their speech is sometimes stilted, filled with pauses or “ummmm’s” or hand gestures or vague words such as “stuff” or “thingy” as they search their memory for the right word. I find this often, and get corrected by family and friends. I always say, but you understand what I am saying don’t you, it’s not that important if I haven’t used the correct word as long as you know what I am saying.

Dyslexia also frequently overlaps with other Specific Learning Difficulties such as Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia and Attention Deficit Disorder. Some find they also have Irlen Syndrome.

A lot of dyslexic people have superior visual skills, which is why so many artists, architects, designers, inventors, engineers, graphic designers and IT people are dyslexic.  I even heard of a US firm of architects who would only employ dyslexic architects because of their visual skills, in particular the ability to think in 3-D.

Organizational skills can be challenging for dyslexic people, and some people develop excellent coping strategies to overcome their weakness and can become a bit obsessive about it. I am a bit of a perfectionist in some things.

I have also noticed that I find it difficult to concentrate when there is something going on around me that catches my eye. For example, if there are paintings on the walls that are not straight, or if there are glasses that are not symmetrically placed on a table, or if a persons collar is not perfect. Just little things like this bother me more then most people.

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