It's estimated that between 10% and 20% of people are, to some extent, dyslexic.
For some, their dyslexia is something very mild and can go unnoticed; for others, it makes life much more difficult. This means that we will all be engaging with dyslexic people on a daily basis, and that there are dyslexic people in our congregations and among our clergy.
So, what if we told you almost everything you think you know about dyslexia is probably wrong? Dyslexia is often thought of as a learning difficulty - we want to set the record straight on that. Dyslexia is a learning difference.
A place of mutual support
Many dyslexic people struggle with educational structures that are considered ‘normal’, such as reading, spelling, grammar, numbers etc. These struggles will be different for each individual with dyslexia. But it is less often recognised that people living with dyslexia also have great strengths in creativity, problem-solving and seeing a bigger picture.
Take, for example, people like Albert Einstein, Agatha Christie, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, Keira Knightly, Sir Richard Branson, Lewis Hamilton and the Rt Revd Sarah Mulally, Bishop of London - all highly successful and creative people in their fields.
In 2018, a small group of clergy in Buckinghamshire got together to form the Bucks Clergy Dyslexia Forum as a place of mutual support. It soon became clear that the group would also be about raising the profile of dyslexia within ministry and offering support to churches who want to understand and explore the issues further.
Since then, some Forum members have left the diocese, and the rest of us have been joined by clergy from other parts of the diocese to form the Clergy Dyslexia Forum. If you would like to join the Forum, or to know more about how we can support you in understanding and exploring in more depth the different aspects of living with dyslexia, please contact Gill Lovell.
As dyslexic clergy, we believe that not only is dyslexic thinking a positive for the church, but in the fast-changing world we live in, dyslexic thinking is essential. Where more and more is able to be handled by artificial intelligence, dyslexic thinking is vital to the survival of any organisation or body. Within the church that goes from parish level to diocesan, and even global.
We have the gifts and strengths to see the bigger picture and to be able to envision the path that leads us forward.
Dyslexia influences as many as 1 in 5 people and is a genetic difference in an individual’s ability to learn and process information. As a result, dyslexic individuals have differing abilities, with strengths in creative, problem-solving and communication skills and challenges with spelling, reading and memorising facts.
Generally, a dyslexic cognitive profile will be uneven when compared to a neurotypical cognitive profile. This means that dyslexic individuals really do think differently. Traditional benchmarking disadvantages dyslexics, measuring them against the very things they find challenging.
Dyslexic in the Pulpit: a Facebook group for people involved in Church leadership who are dyslexic.
Radio 4 Thought for the Day (25/08/22): Rabbi Laura Jenner-Klausner names her dyslexia as she calls for society to recognise and value every person's individuality.