I’m trying to write this post using my headset by speaking into the computer. I’ve never been the best of writers and that’s always been a real struggle for getting my story out there.
Nine years ago, I got diagnosed with a learning disability called ‘dysgraphia’. I was in my final year of university and had finished my exams and assignments at this point and I finally got told why I had been struggling for so long.
It felt really late at that point because I’d already been through the education system. I never got the help that I needed but I informed my siblings to get tested as dysgraphia is genetic and explains the bad handwriting in our family!
At the time I shrugged it off and thought it was just focused on handwriting. In the days of computers, it was so easy to think it wasn’t a big deal? Who needs handwriting anyway if we’re typing most of the time but the issue is that there is more to this learning disability and people never focus on that.
In this article, it explains what dysgraphia is but what I want to pull out isn’t the handwriting issue, it’s:
May be overly reliant on simple sentence structures
Prefers to give or get directions orally, instead of in writing
Has trouble “getting to the point” in written communication; emails may be rambling, or reports may repeat the same ideas several times
Able to explain self clearly when speaking, but not when writing
Those points really describe me. I basically have a glitch in my brain, which makes it slightly harder for me to communicate in the written format and translate my thoughts into writing. It’s why sometimes I make mistakes, overlook words, ramble, and struggle to get to the point!
Reflecting over the feedback I’ve received from various employers over the years, it’s all been very similar and ties into dysgraphia.
My line manager Jon Forman saw my tweet recently about this issue and asked me if I’d like to have a workplace adjustment, so I decided to explore this further. I got some good recommendations about using mind mapping software and using software to turn my speech into text.
As we use Macbooks at work, I can’t use ‘Dragon’, the most highly-rated software, so I was advised to try the Apple in-house dictation and had a Jabra headset with a good mic purchased for me that can pick up my voice much better.
It’s not perfect as it does seem to make a lot of mistakes when trying to translate but it does get my thoughts out way quicker! I’m, however, having to re-learn the way I do things because I’m not used to this.
I really hope using assisted technology like speech to text and read out loud combined with mind mapping software leads me to write more. I would love any tips and recommendations from people who use assisted software and how to make it a habit.
Lastly, accepting and opening up about my learning disability is hard especially when you’re already someone who ticks many boxes! I didn’t get the help I needed through the education system but I hope now, with the correct help, it can unlock more doors for me and not hold me back. I’m grateful to now try a different approach in my way of working - it's not perfect but I hope it’s the start.
PS: I wrote this blog post in just over an hour, speech to text, read aloud plugin, and made my husband give it a once over (he still made lots of corrections but hey human help will always beat the robots!)