James Martin discusses his dyslexia symptoms

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Talking on Loose Women this afternoon the chef detailed how he discovered that he was dyslexic at the age of 30. In fact it wasn’t until he started working in TV and tried to read the autocue that he knew he was different to other presenters. Working alongside Ruth Langsford at the beginning of his career he said: “Co-hosting with Ruth and I quickly figured out who was a good presenter and who wasn’t”.

“15 years I’ve been doing Saturday Morning so there are plenty.

“Usually, the ones that are out there, the ones that are on the internet really.

“And the fact I’m dyslexic, so I keep getting the words mixed up when I read – I don’t know how you guys do it on television.

“I just completely mess it all up, but that’s where it all goes terribly wrong when I get my words mixed up.”

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Appearing on cooking shows since 1996 the 49-year-old had to adapt his working style to his condition.

Luckily he was able to receive training from a “wonderful lady” who taught him how to walk and talk at the same time. This allowed him to grow in confidence and triumph on shows such as Ready Steady Cook and Saturday Kitchen.

Dyslexia is a common learning difficulty that affects both children and adults. The NHS states that it is estimated to affect one in every 10 people in the UK to some extent.

  • Common difficulties that people with dyslexia will face include the following:
  • Difficulty holding & following a list of auditory instructions
  • Listening & taking notes at the same time.
  • Organisational problems of all kinds including time management
  • Difficulties with new words/word finding/ pronunciation
  • Difficulty dealing with abbreviations.
  • Takes longer to write – untidy or incoherent writing.
  • Difficulties reading and extracting information from text – can take a long
  • time to read and learn
  • Difficulty coping with new transport routes, new building layouts,
  • unfamiliar paperwork.

For children the condition can make school difficult so it is best to cooperate with their school or place of education so they can receive the assistance they need from a special need coordinator (SENCO).

Techniques and support that may help your child include:

  • Occasional one-to-one teaching or lessons in a small group with a specialist teacher
  • Phonics (a special learning technique that focuses on improving the ability to identify and process the smaller sounds that make up words)
  • Technology like computers and speech recognition software that may make it easier for your child to read and write when they’re a bit older.

If your child continues to have problems despite extra support, you or the school may want to consider requesting a more in-depth assessment from a specialist dyslexia teacher or an educational psychologist.

For adults there is also the availability of certain technology such as word processors and electronic organisers which can be useful.

For James, who has written various cookbooks whilst having the condition, he has overcome his difficulties by recording and speaking what he wants to say rather than typing or writing it out himself.

Dyslexia is not related to a person’s general intelligence and people of all different intellectual abilities can be affected.

The exact cause of the condition remains unknown, but it is thought to run in families. Inheriting certain genes may affect how the brain develops during early life, thus leading to dyslexia.

Although typically thought to be the same as autism, autism or autistic spectrum disorder is a developmental disorder where the brain processes sound and colors in a manner different from an average brain whereas dyslexia is a learning disorder that involves difficulty interpreting words, pronunciations, and spellings.

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