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Locally produced video raises awareness of dyslexia

Locally produced video raises awareness of dyslexia

The positive side of living with dyslexia was highlighted in a new video launched by the Gibraltar Dyslexia Support Group.

The message shared was that dyslexics are highly creative, they think outside the box and are good at problem solving.

Four volunteers, including the Governor of Gibraltar Lieutenant General Edward Davis, spoke about dyslexia in the video.

The video premiere was held at an event in John Mackintosh Hall last Wednesday for friends and family.

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In the video, Henry Earle, Rob Chandler, Lt Gen Davis and nine-year old Miley Ramos spoke about their own benefits and also about their role models.

“Don’t hide it, embrace it. And use it to become a better person,” Lt Gen Davis said.

The Gibraltar Dyslexia Support Group was inspired by the GibSams suicide awareness video and decided to produce their own to raise awareness about the condition.

Dyslexia is defined as a language-based learning difference and can vary in degrees of severity.

It affects the organisation in the brain that controls the ability to process the way language is heard, spoken, read or spelt and it is not often picked up at an early age.

Chairman Stuart Byrne told the Chronicle the group aimed to show a positive outlook of dyslexia.

“We wanted to do something that was positive in its outlook towards dyslexia,” Mr Byrne said.

“The aim of the video is to highlight the positives and strengths for dyslexics – they are highly creative, they think outside the box and they are very good at problem solving.”

“Yes we have areas that we struggle with, but we also have areas that we do very well with as well.”

“Ours is just more common because we have the label dyslexia.”

Mr Earle, 29, highlighted the benefits of having dyslexia, including his ability to be able to park his car well.

At first he was embarrassed to be part of the video and share his experience, but was encouraged by a little boy who later told him: “It is okay to be dyslexic”.

Mr Earle was diagnosed he was around 11-years old and said at first there were no changes with him in school and he really struggled with English in school.

He went on to study Business Information Systems at university, and now works in the communications and outreach team at the University of Gibraltar.

It was two years ago he was re-diagnosed and was given more tips and tools to support him.

“This made a big difference for me, since that I have been able to get more skills,” Mr Earle said.

“As you are growing up whatever you struggle with, you learn to overcome.”

Miley Ramos said her favourite subject in school is art, and that her teachers in St Anne’s Middle School do everything they can to check her schoolwork.

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“It was good to be in the video,” Miley said.

“I spoke about having dyslexia and how it is cool to be dyslexic.”

Mr Chandler, in his late 50s, works in clinical engineering with the GHA.

He is also studying a PhD at the University in Gibraltar in the location of mechanical sound waves in 3D space by looking at bats and cetacean’s movements in air and water.

Mr Chandler described school as a “nightmare” and said he was unable to read or write until he was around 12-years old.

“I learnt to fool everybody and learnt different techniques on how to pretend to read,” Mr Chandler said.

“You learn different skills and then I got caught.”

It was in English class while reading poetry and Shakespeare in class that his learning difficulty came to light.

During his A-Levels he went on to study electronics and this was when his life changed.

“In electronics everything is virtual,” he said.

“I have never seen an electron and it is all in the mind and all about 3D space.”

“And that is the beauty of being a dyslexic, you are able to see things in 3D space.”

“Dyslexia has been described as a superpower and I agree that yes it is a superpower.”

Mr Chandler said the education in Gibraltar is doing a lot to help dyslexic children, adding that they should be embraced because these children are creative and “the future is all about being creative”.

The governor, Lt Gen Davis, came across the Gibraltar Dyslexia Support Group last year and went on to become a patron of the charity and become associated with it.

He was discovered to have the learning difficulty at the age of seven when he struggled with his reading, and had to extra reading to keep up with his classmates.

“No one truly explained what it was and no one truly explained how I could cope with my difference and no one showed me the way to make the best of having the difference that is dyslexia,” he said.

“What is wonderful about having this support group is that Gibraltar’s youth that have dyslexia are being helped to understand it, embrace it and progress despite their difference.”

“It is great to see that this generation is being provided with the support they need in a way previous generations have not been.”

Lt Gen Davis explained that one way he has been able to overcome his own dyslexia is with a “good short-term memory” and has had to be a lot more “studious” with his work, even if it might take more time.

He said the techniques that are being taught to the children is “wonderful to have” to help them reach the best of their abilities.

The video was produced by the Gibraltar Youth Production Team.

Bradley Durante, 14, and youth worker John Napoli, of Gibraltar Youth Production Team, worked on the video with another four members.

The video is available to see on the Gibraltar Dyslexia Support Group Facebook page and on YouTube on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1lVo4-EoRs.

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