Read on to hear Chris Bamford's inspiring journey to success, a narrative that defies the limitations imposed by Dyslexia and Dyspraxia. He shares the highs, lows, and the empowering journey of embracing authenticity in the face of lingering neurodiversity stigma.
At just four years old, I was diagnosed with Dyslexia, a challenge accompanied by significant motor and coordination difficulties. Despite doctors' skepticism, my mother, a dedicated nurse, refused to accept a bleak prognosis. With her unwavering support, I embarked on twelve years of occupational therapy and additional reading and writing classes. School was undeniably tough, but accommodations, like cassette tapes and scribes, enabled me to excel in my HSC exams.
Dancing entered my life at age ten, against doctors' warnings about my motor skills. What began as a means to bolster coordination blossomed into a decade-long career that took me around the world. Upon retiring at 26, I transitioned into the corporate world, initially believing Dyslexia was something I could outgrow. However, I soon recognised that my challenges persisted. Anxiety and imposter syndrome became familiar companions, driving me to excel while concealing my struggles. Despite this, the corporate journey felt more demanding than for my peers.
A turning point came with a supportive manager who recognized my potential and encouraged retesting. The results unveiled not only Dyslexia but also Dyspraxia, providing valuable insight into my past challenges.
This revelation allowed for tailored support and coaching for success. The installation of assistive technology on my computer was a turning point.
I received additional guidance and coaching to identify my needs and harness my strengths.
I came to understand that my brain was wired differently, resulting in exceptional aptitudes in certain areas and huge challenges in others, with little middle ground. These strengths and weaknesses are a natural facet of brain diversity, not a disability. With the right support, I began excelling at work as an adult, spurring me on to strive for success. I recognised my worth and embraced my unique strengths, including problem-solving, creativity, heightened empathy, expansive thinking, and adeptness at making connections.
Since then, I've consistently disclosed my Dyslexia/Dyspraxia, emphasising the strength of Dyslexic thinking. When I joined Deloitte, I openly communicated my needs, strengths, and areas I aimed to improve. There still remains a lingering stigma surrounding neurodiversity. Some may judge me prematurely or be overly critical of my work, instead of allowing for an acceptable margin of error. My work won't be perfect, and that's okay. Today, I openly embrace my neurodiversity, and hope my story can inspire others to disclose their neurodiversity and embrace their authentic selves.