WHEN you think of dyslexia, most people associate it with just poor spelling and reading, but it’s far more complicated than most people realise.

If I had to list the worse things about dyslexia, spelling would not be top of my list. We have the technology to get round it, though I confess that some of my words are so far off the mark that I generally defeat my computer’s spell checker most days.

Spelling doesn’t make my top five, which are:

1.Short term memory problems.

2.Poor concentration.

3.Poor accuracy when reading.

4.Language issues – similar sounding words are a problem.

5.Structuring sentences and grammar.

Dyslexia is a generic term covering a large spectrum of learning and developmental issues. So what does it mean to me as someone who has been formally diagnosed with dyslexia?

I was diagnosed at 12-years-old by an educational psychologist. My so-called pushy parents knew that something was wrong from the day I started school. Fortunately for me, they pursued the issue, despite no recognition of dyslexia at the time.

According to the education system, I was “just one of those kids” who wasn’t that bright and struggled at school. I was very lucky and was given extra help and specialist tuition from the Dyslexia Institute. This tuition got me out of what, in the 1980s, were called “remedial classes” and into normal lessons, leaving school with four GCSEs and a reading age of 12.

A levels were a bridge too far for me at the time, but when I joined the world of work I found

dyslexia was, initially, less of an issue. However, leap forward 30 years, during which time I’ve been to college and become a qualified safety professional, and I still experience the effects.

Finishing a phone call and simply forgetting what was discussed or agreed 30 seconds earlier is a real issue. If I don’t write it down, it’s forgotten 90 per cent of the time. My wife gets exasperated when I go to the shop for milk and come back with eggs. Losing keys, phones and wallets is also a constant problem.

I was also diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, which is also part of the dyslexic spectrum. This results in me struggling to keep on track when holding conversations, often going off on a tangent and then forgetting what I was originally talking about. Equally, keeping focused on discussions is a challenge, especially in an open plan office.

And then there is e-mail. Reading hundreds of emails each day is horrendous for us all, but for a dyslexic it’s a real challenge, and reading them incorrectly is even more of a problem. When writing, it’s often missing words or using the wrong words that is the real problem. It looks fine when reading it back in my head, but very often it’s not.

The more pressure that’s applied to a dyslexic child or adult, the less likely they are to understand or remember what they’re trying to do. I read books fanatically these days and have found that it has improved my writing immeasurably. However, it takes me a long time to read and I often struggle to remember what I’ve read.

I still find it a real challenge posting on social media. Reading out loud is a challenge. I cannot do basic arithmetic or my times tables. My kids, aged 12 and 14, have significantly better comprehension and mental maths skills than mine.

Dyslexia is nothing to do with intelligence. Even so, confidence is a big issue for a dyslexic child and adult. It doesn’t take much to knock it; a comment from a teacher or the realisation that you have sent a badly worded email or used the wrong word can really seem a big thing, especially as others do associate that with a lack of intelligence or sloppiness.

A dyslexic person simply won’t understand basic things that seem obvious to everyone else and, the more they try, the worse it gets.

One of the best TV programmes I have seen about dyslexia was on Kara Tointon “Don’t Call Me Stupid” – she really captured what it’s like. It’s still available on YouTube for anyone who cares to watch it.

I used to hide my dyslexia at work, but the best way to deal with it is just accept it and do your best. After all there are far worse hands you can be dealt with in life, so don’t let it hold you back.

*Brett Stinton is head of health, safety and environmental quality at Northumbrian Water.