Raising awareness of neurodiversity in the workplace.
Article by: Sebastian de Groot van Embden
I am dyslexic, and as someone who struggles with reading and writing, I am probably one of the most unlikely candidates to write an article. However, here I am, putting myself out there and sharing a bit about my experience and how privileged I am to be blessed with this superpower.
Accessible Qatar has provided a platform for me to share a bit about my story, and I hope it encourages others to do the same.
I have been blessed with dyslexia for as long as I can remember, I was lucky enough to have parents who understood learning difficulties and also knew how to embrace them. At school I often struggled but found myself in a system that offered support (albeit via segregation for the most part), I had extra time for my exams and additional learning classes to support.
Now I am by no means ungrateful, and I am aware that many did not even get that however it still always felt that my dyslexia was a disability rather than an ability. Dyslexic thinking has been championed by some of the most well-known and well-regarded minds out there, Richard Branson, to name one has been a pioneer of shifting a mindset to see value in dyslexic thinking rather than it being perceived as a burden.
Times changing is something I am very grateful for and I have no doubt this new wave of thinking has been reflected in school and curriculum. It is important for me that young minds do not feel limited from dyslexia and rather empowered by it.
As I have grown in my career and co-founded my own business my relationship with dyslexia has strengthened, I have been able to embrace it fully, research more and alleviate some of the pain points or stigma that I had subconsciously placed on myself while growing up. The time spent in the space is what led to conceptualize and launching an initiative that is very dear to me and personally solved one of my most challenging issues in the workplace.
That initiative is called All Kinds of Minds (allkindsofminds.co); the concept is straightforward but for me, was very effective.
As you can understand now, 3 years into running my own business, the amount of emails that I have sent is most likely a terrifyingly large number as is the amount of time I spend behind the desk. We are a fully remote business, so 80% of our team and client communications happen in a written format, either in Slack or via Email. These scenarios pose a problem for those with reading and writing; the pressure you feel every time you are about to hit send is often overwhelming. Yes, I have learnt to get used to it, but it is always there and remains there even after I send a message.
I spent a phenomenal number of hours rereading and correcting my written work and as the amount of work pilled, this pressure got bigger and bigger until I decided to make a change.
The change was simple and is what led to the beginning of All Kinds of Minds. I created a simple and clear email signature that is now included in all emails I send, telling people to “Please excuse the typos, I am blessed to be dyslexic”. Wow, its even a relief adding it here!
No what this small addition to email does has a huge impact on how I feel when communicating. It removes the worry of being considered “careless” or “rushing” or “distracted” and allows a little bit of breathing space in a very judgmental world to embrace my superpower and for others to understand I do care and I have most likely proofread the email numerous times but I can’t help the if the odd mistake remains.
Small change, right? But huge impact for myself and others who have joined our network of dyslexic thinkers through the All Kinds of Minds initiative. We have worked hard to build out our email signature options to embrace and represent various neurodiversity’s to help to raise awareness of them in the workplace.
I hope this gives a little bit of insight into a dyslexic mind and to find out more about how you can integrate our signatures into your workplace, home or school, explore opportunities for collaboration or share your feedback please reach out at https://allkindsofminds.co/
Sebastian de Groot van Embden is a husband, father, entrepreneur and intrapreneur.
He has lived in Qatar for over 10 years and was diagnosed with dyslexia at school in the UK at the age of 15 ahead of his GCSE and he has been working on how best to manage it since then.
His experiences range across various sectors however he specializes with equal measure in the digital and real estate spaces. He is an Oxford Brookes University graduate and completed his MBA in 2022 from Bayes (formally Cass) Business School at City University London.