One in five people are dyslexic. Since 2005, Kate Griggs has been leading the change to disrupt the world’s thinking about dyslexia. She was shocked by the way her son’s dyslexia was ignored at school and her high-profile campaign for change culminated in the UK government’s Dyslexia Review.
In 2017 she founded global charity Made By Dyslexia to help the world understand, value and support dyslexia. Her first children’s book Xtraordinary People was published in 2020 and her latest book for adults, THIS is Dyslexia, is out now.
It was a mix of my own childhood experiences and my experiences with my kids that brought me to my current role as the founder and CEO of global charity Made By Dyslexia. I’m dyslexic and so are my whole family. In fact, my whole life has been surrounded by a ‘smorgasbord’ of Dyslexic Thinking. My experiences at school really shaped me – I went from failing miserably at school, to being sent to a school that spotted my dyslexia and nurtured my dyslexic strengths, and my life literally transformed. This led me to become a dyslexia expert, and author of two bestselling books on dyslexia published by Penguin. I founded Made By Dyslexia in 2017. Our purpose is to help the world understand the value of Dyslexic Thinking, and our mission is to help every school and workplace empower Dyslexic Thinking.
No. Becoming a dyslexia expert and my mission to drive change came from a passion to help my son Ted who had a horrid start to school because none of his teachers were trained to spot or support dyslexia. I couldn’t believe 30 years on nothing had changed! So, I trained in dyslexia and soon realised that this lack of training was commonplace, still today 80% of dyslexic children are leaving school unidentified and unsupported. I’m an accidental author too. I wrote because my books, THIS is Dyslexia for adults and Xtraordinary People for kids, because there were no books that explained dyslexia in a positive way.
I believe when you find your life’s purpose, somehow things fall into place, and that has certainly been the case for me. Made By Dyslexia turns 5 this year, and we have made extraordinary achievements in such short space of time. My biggest challenge is having to say no to the many amazing opportunities coming my way. Made By Dyslexia has exceptionally bold but simple goals and we have to keep single-mindedly determined to deliver them.
My biggest achievement has been writing and getting my books published. I am so grateful to my publisher Penguin who let me write the books in a super dyslexia friendly way. They are short, full of summaries and bullet points, use dyslexia friendly font and spacing, and have lots of QR code links to films that support the content. They are literally written and designed by dyslexics for dyslexics. The response to them has been extraordinary. It’s so rewarding to read the reviews and hear the difference they are making to dyslexic people and their families all around the world. It’s why I do what I do.
My Dyslexic Thinking. It helps me see the big picture and keep communications simple, so everyone can understand our message and mission, and why it’s so important, or explain dyslexia simply in my books. It makes me love questioning the status quo, never taking no for an answer, and always exploring creative solutions. It helps me imagine what could be and see things that others haven’t thought of. And it’s attracted a group of like-minded people – my team at Made By Dyslexia are Made By Dyslexia. So we have very bold goals and some amazing, creative ways to communicate and achieve them.
It’s great, but I haven’t done it…yet. Both my sons are dyslexic and even with lots of great support at school they needed my help/advice to find their path, although I’m not sure being a parent is mentoring. They’re now in their 20s and have tapped into their Dyslexic Thinking and are making a good living out of what they love to do. So that’s my job done there, hopefully! So mentoring is something I’d definitely be interested in. Made By Dyslexia has been super effective with a very small team, and I’d love to share how we’ve achieved that.
That’s simple, it would be for our workplaces and schools to recognise dyslexia as a valuable way of thinking, not a disadvantage. The way we value and measure intelligence both in education and work needs to change. We are fixated with standardised tests and scores, with spelling and knowledge-based learning. But in the real-world Google has all the knowledge and spellchecker does the spelling. We need minds that think differently and that challenge the status quo. And dyslexia and neurodiversity represent a rich resource of exactly this thinking. We need to recognise this and enable these minds to thrive.
I would say, embrace your Superpowers and focus on what you’re naturally good at, and love to do. Because when we lean into our strengths and passions, we become experts and best in field, and because we’re passionate about it, we love our work too.
And don’t try to be Superwoman, limit time spent on things you’re not good at and hate doing. Spending hours trying to get better at things we find difficult really isn’t productive. Delegate or ask for help. It’ll be someone else’s superpower.
I’m working on a new book which will be released next year. And for Made By Dyslexia our mission is to help every school and every workplace to empower Dyslexic Thinking and we’ve aligned with the UN SDG’s to achieve this by 2030. Our education initiative is Connect the Spots, and the Workplace is Join the Dots and we have created free resources to support these. Made By Dyslexia has built the largest dyslexia community in the world and we’re tapping into this to create a movement of change. Because the world needs Dyslexic Thinking.