There are a few things to keep in mind of course. Not all dyslexics can necessarily take advantage of the gifts that dyslexia brings. If you have no passion, ambition or confidence, having dyslexia is of no benefit. Here is a summary of my story.
I was born in 1961 at The Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal, Canada. According to my parents, I didn’t speak a word until the age of 4 years old. I was born in December so I entered school at a younger age than most of my peers in the same grade level.
I began to believe … stupid and dumb
By age 5, kids were learning how to read but I was quite noticeably slower and struggling with the written language. Teachers and students called me stupid & dumb all through the early grades and I began to believe them and resented going to school. I remember being punished for failure which became a routine for me. I had few friends and was the victim of some bullying.
I was diagnosed to be dyslexic in 1972 when I was 11 years old. We had no support groups or special programs. I was told to learn a trade like mechanic or carpenter as I would never succeed in an academic career. I absolutely hated learning until I was learning only what I wanted to learn and at a much faster pace than the regular system could allow.
Got into trouble
I was moved to a private school for grades 7 & 8 (junior high school as it’s called in Canada). There I continued to fail and also started making friends with other kids who were misfits and failures.
We got into trouble and started doing drugs while skipping off school.
I was offered a passing grade in exchange for not coming back to that school ever again. I entered high school which is grade 9 for the first year in 1975. I failed everything and was always getting in trouble and doing drugs. This repeated for the next 3 years and in the 4th year, I dropped out of school having only completed 6 of the 40 credits required to graduate.
Low paying jobs .. but I love science
For the next 6 years, I moved around the country taking low paying jobs and doing things that were not in my best interest. I always had an interest in science but knew that I would never get to work in a scientific field without school and for me, school was beyond reach.
I also somehow began to realize that I was probably as smart or even smarter than many of those around me but just had no formal education. Eventually I got bored doing menial labor and reporting to people that seemed less intelligent than I am. I also had a taste for the better things in life and wondered if I could ever become something and have something.
Wanted to be someone
At the age of 22 years old, I decided I wanted to be someone and so I began to study for an adult entrance exam. This required that I learn all of high school which included mostly basic English, Math & Science. I taught myself in 4 months and wrote the exam.
Although dyslexia prevented me from passing the English part of the test, I got almost a perfect score on the Math & Science sections. My score was enough to enter the University and I proceeded to learn Chemistry, Physics, Math/Calculus and Computer programming.
I did poorly in computer although back in the early 1980’s, computer was quite different than today. I was very successful at learning math, physics & chemistry. I was not able to complete my degree because some of the required courses involved reading which I still struggled with.
The only benefit offered to me by the university was that I could have as much time as needed to complete my tests & exams. I eventually quit the university with a full understanding of university chemistry & physics but it would be difficult to get a job practicing these sciences without the graduate degree.
My dyslexia gifts started to show …
I found a job in a factory that used chemical processes and while working, I was educating myself on how the chemistry is applied in this manufacturing process. The second company that hired me had problems with their processes and where causing scrap of about 15% of their products.
This is where my dyslexia gifts started to show their value. I determined where in their process management systems were causing the problems and devised a creative way to solve it.
Shortly after implementing my new control system, I was promoted to Chemical Process Manager. I was able to reduce the scrap from 15% down to 3% within 6 months. It turned out that many other companies in that same industry had similar problems.
I have a unique ability
In a short time, many of my employer’s competitors had heard about me and my magic. I began to get many job offers that payed large salaries so I moved around many times over the following few years.
I provided these companies many improvements as I seemed to visualise processes & their problems in multiple dimensions. I have a unique ability to visualize, perceive and conceptualize mechanisms and what influences them.
Working my way up
I proceeded to teach myself how to use computers & build computer networks. By the time I was 28 years old, I was the manager of 3 departments of a large company that provided electronic components to military and medical technology companies.
By 1989, my position was to manage the chemical process engineering department, IT/computer department and the Quality Control department.
Started my own company, 3X!
At the same time as all this, I started my own computer company on the side. This company grew rapidly and eventually I had to resign from my high paying job to go it alone. I was very good at working alone by this time and my company grew rapidly.
From there, I branched off into video surveillance and subsequently started another company which also grew rapidly. My companies provide products & services to some of the largest clients in the world.
I now provide for Honda Manufacturing, Suncor Energy, Tesla Motors, Imperial Oil and many more. By now you would think that I had done enough but in 2009, I invented & patented a product that is now selling all over North America and we are just starting to sell in Europe. All 3 of my companies are successful and employing a number of people.
Think outside the box
I am now 56 years old. I am married to a lovely lady who has tolerated me for 29 years ;^). I have 3 children in university and we own a beautiful home. We also travel regularly to various countries around the world.
I would not change a thing about my past or my life. All of the trials and tribulations, struggles & hardships, have all contributed to who I have become. This includes dyslexia which forced me to think outside the box and discover my real talents.
Another one of my quotes:
“Don’t try to fix dyslexia. Dyslexia isn’t broken, you just need to figure out how it works”
Written by Chris Newhouse
What is your best dyslexia quotes?
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