A Multi-awarded Dentist who was reluctant to take the dyslexia assessment test shares his pre and post-test experience.

Dyslexia Explored #39

Pete the dentist

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Award winning Dentist who takes a dyslexia assessment but agrees to compare his  feelings before and after the test in this podcast recorded in two parts. We explore:

Bad advice from a career adviser: “…I don’t think you’re going to be bright enough to become a dentist.”

Finding a natural ability: “…you just grow up with this natural ability.”

Dyslexic pioneers in dentistry: “I’ve discovered is so many of the guys that are pioneering this new stuff, they are dyslexic.”

Fear of failure: “I was terrified I was going to be discovered as being a failure or a fraud… there’s almost a drive to be the best and …prove yourself.”

What do you feel before the test? “I’m slightly nervous I’m not dyslexic…”

Coping Strategies: “… I dictate everything.”

Money and Delegating: “ Build a team of people round about you who can do the things that you’re not good at.”

Dyslexic delaying tactic: “I would ask her to repeat the question….”

What do you feel after the test: “… confirms to me kind of what I’ve known and what I’ve avoided…”

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Pete remembers “The careers adviser sitting me down and saying, listen, I don’t think you’re going to be bright enough to become a dentist. you need to think about maybe becoming a nurse… That’s not to underestimate what nurses can do… But I definitely had a vision of doing more than what my careers advisor was trying to put me into.”

“You imagine that everyone else thinks the same as you, but they don’t. And you just grow up with this natural ability.”

“Dentistry is very divided up in different brackets and departments. And if you can take a concept from one department and bring it into another department, it’s almost like nobody’s ever heard of it before. What I’ve discovered is so many of the guys that are pioneering this new stuff, they are dyslexic.”

“ I was terrified I was going to be discovered as being a failure or a fraud. I expected to be exposed and I’m still probably carrying a lot of that around with me. And there’s almost a drive to be the best and to demonstrate your technical ability to prove yourself.”

“I’m slightly nervous I’m not dyslexic… that means you’re just not that bright”

“One of my coping strategies … I dictate everything. I ask my nurses to read the computer screens … it’s these little habits that dyslexics figure out. Spreadsheets are a complete nightmare.”

“And, you know, don’t ask me about money because I’m terrible at that. But I have someone who can do that part of the business. And I think it’s realizing the certain things you can do really well and there are certain things I cannot do. Build a team of people round about you who can do the things that you’re not good at. It allows you to do the things that you can do, and what you can do is absolutely stunning.”

“I would ask her to repeat the question I’ve said, just let me check that again. And again, it’s a delaying tactic that I’ve developed over time that I would ask people to gain a little bit more time. Just to clarify, you said that I’ve heard it correctly, but I just want a little bit more time to let my brain process what’s going on.”

“I feel a sense of relief. Maybe that’s too strong. It kind of confirms to me kind of what I’ve known and what I’ve avoided. Because I’ve always associated dyslexia with being stupid or be slightly thick. And I think I’ve always struggled with that, that my brain doesn’t work as quickly as some people’s”

Darius:             00:00:00 Welcome to dyslexia explored again. We’ve got a great guest today. He is my own dentist and we have been kind of hinting at him that maybe he’s dyslexic for a few years now. My wife and I. I absolutely love Pete, my dentist, because he has saved me from a world of pain for over 20 years. And I just remember what it was like with my previous dentist and how valuable a great dentist is. Now, Pete has won lots of Scottish awards and I would say is one of the best dentists in Scotland’s hand on heart. And he’s just decided to get a dyslexia assessment as an adult and so I’ve managed to strong arm him to come onto the podcast. So Pete, hi. Thanks for being here. How are you doing?

Pete:        00:00:55  I’m good, I’m good. I’m a wee bit reluctant to be here but excited at the concept of doing a podcast. Never done a podcast before.

Darius:             00:01:04 Great. Why are you reluctant?

Pete:        00:01:08  I guess I’m just really frightened that, I don’t like admitting weaknesses and I think I struggled for a long time with being dyslexic and I’m kind of frightened having, you know, obviously you develop coping mechanisms. I’m kinda just frightened of the label of being dyslexic, to be honest.

Darius:             00:01:31 Okay. Yeah. So you’ve taken a move to get a dyslexia assessment and what we’re doing with this podcast is we’re going to record it in two sections. We’re going to record it before the assessment, which is when?

Pete:        00:01:47  which is on Tuesday,

Darius:             00:01:52 yeah. Okay. Then we’ll do another half of this podcast afterwards to get your reaction to what was after. Because this is a key moment for quite a lot of children. They’re nervous before going for an assessment and also adults and often children can’t articulate it quite so well because it’s a bit more subconscious, but you can maybe help other parents and adults. So relate to this, process. So take us back. We ask these nine questions of people, but I think the four main ones are, what’s the beginning? What was life before the story began? What was the wake-up call that woke you up to your dyslexia? What was the challenge you faced in your story and what were the rewards you’ve got from the challenge? So take us to the beginning, what was life like before the story began, as it were. Where were you before you saw any kind of real difficulties?

Pete:        00:02:55  So my, my, I’ve always really struggled with reading and writing. I’ve never been a strong reader. And I remember in peace seven and skills, so it’d been 12 years old having a spelling assessment tests done. And I, I came out of that with a spelling age of eight and I remember being quite shocked that it was so low. I knew I couldn’t spell, I knew I wasn’t that good at spelling. And the teacher moved me to a special class where I was put with the other people who couldn’t spell. And I remember looking at the other people that couldn’t spell and thinking there’s something wrong here because I’m with the people that I shouldn’t be with. I felt that I was a lot more intelligent probably than the other remedial students that had been put with. So that’s the kind of the first realization I think, where I kind of discovered,

Darius:             00:03:58 Yeah. So that’s where you, you started off and yeah. Then, what kind of challenges did you have to face after that? What were your main challenges?

Pete:        00:04:10  English. Higher English, and French, incredibly difficult for me. The language just seems to be such a foreign thing, but really enjoyed chatting to people and could not get my head around higher English. I Field from a higher English, fantastic. Loved Sciences, I did three sciences at a higher level, got As in All my science work and of course failed my higher English, which meant that my six-year study program completely had to change to involve me repeating my higher English. I wanted to go to a university to be, either a dentist or a doctor or surgeon or something like that. I think I really want to do something that was practical and I felt that I could do that. And I remember it after failing a higher exam, failing my higher English, the careers adviser sitting me down and saying, listen, I don’t think you’re going to be bright enough to become a dentist. you need to think about maybe becoming a nurse because that would kind of fit with your skill set and you’re obviously not a good to manage to achieve the ability to, to pass your higher English, like a dental nurse or a hospital nurse. And I, and as, as they said that to me, I was like, no, I totally disagree. That’s not going to happen to me. I’ve got to do more than be a nurse. That’s not to underestimate what nurses can do. Cause I think what nurses can do is fantastic. But I definitely had a vision, if you like, of doing more than what my careers advisor was trying to put me into.

Darius:             00:05:59 So for the American and Australian students and those who aren’t in Scotland, we’ve got a particular system in Scotland where you have to do five highers to get into university, three, four or five, sometimes six highers to get into university. It’s not like SATs or anything like that. You got five different subjects you choose and the university says you’ve got to get an A in this or an A in that. And so many A’s, so many B’s and a C, and one of the requirements at that time was you’ve got to pass English. It doesn’t matter what else you’ve got. What did you have in your highers? What did you get?

Pete:        00:06:43  For my first set, if I can remember appropriately, it was like four A’s and a complete fail in English.

Darius:             00:06:49 Oh my goodness. Four A’s and fail in English. Yeah. Oh, that is so, so painful. Yeah. Oh yeah. I mean anyone listening to that, that’s just, that is, that’s painful. So what happened next? What happened in the sixth year?

Pete:        00:07:09  But obviously that means that there’s something here. There’s something wrong there, isn’t there? I think I thought it was because the teacher was pretty rubbish at teaching me. The teacher was definitely rubbish. But I just loved science. I just loved everything to do with science. And I love to teach new stuff in science. I love the questions of how and why and I, I just could not get my head around English at all. Um, but my parents, my mother’s a teacher actually she pressed me to go for some additional, tutoring. So I, I got a higher English tutor who really worked with me and crafted me and to taught me how to pass the exam, just how to do the exam and how to pass the exam. And that, that allows me to get a B in my higher English, which meant I was able to go to uni.

Darius:             00:08:11 So it was basically down to exam technique.

Pete:        00:08:15  Oh, Totally. That is, and I think it’s, it’s, uh, you know, we talk about coping strategies and I think corporate strategies are massive. And I think as a dyslexic you learn coping strategies and you, you imagine that everyone else thinks the same as you, but they don’t and you just grow up with this natural ability that is you. But it’s actually, it’s a gift. It’s the way that you look at the world’s, it’s the what you do and that is, that is an amazing asset.

Darius:             00:08:49 Yeah. I mean, I have to say from what I know about you and what you’ve done in dentistry over the 20 years or so, I mean, how long has it been, you’ve been a dentist now?

Pete:        00:08:59  Oh, I graduated in 93 so that’s 25 years.

Darius:             00:09:03 25 years. A quarter of a century Pete. You, you have always been the one who’s been on the edge of the dentistry, looking for the newest thing, looking for new ideas, combining different techniques and so on. Just developing your craft continuously, I think is a very strong dyslexic trait.

Pete:        00:09:28  Yeah, I understand that. Now. Previously. I just thought everyone did that. But the more I’ve pursued stuff and the more I’ve discovered stuff and probably linked with more people on the Internet, and I think that’s one of their meetings and things of know you can connect with other like-minded people and who are pushing boundaries and trying new techniques and one of the key things dyslexics can cross-pollinate and take ideas from one field and bring it into another field. And that’s one of the things that I’ve loved doing. And dentistry is very divided up in different brackets and departments. And if you can take a concept from one department and bring it into another department, it’s, it’s almost like nobody’s ever heard of it or thought about it before. And there’s so much happening with digital dentistry and CAD cam and milling and digitizing, there’s an amazing abundance of chat and sharing of information that happens online, which is a fantastic way to learn. What I’ve discovered is so many of the guys that are pioneering this new stuff, they are dyslexic. It’s, absolutely fascinating how many of them I was chatting two of my technicians who are probably one of the best technicians, technicians, the people that make teeth. So these two guys who worked separately. I’m chatting to one of them on Facebook messenger and he says to me out of the blue, I’m not too good on Facebook messenger because I’m dyslexic. I’m like once you mean, you’re dyslexic? You create beautiful, amazing pieces of work and is yet, and he said to me, yeah, but I can’t, I’m not very good at reading or writing. And my other technician almost exactly the same story. He struggles to read and write and yet he can create these beautiful pieces of work.

Darius:             00:11:28 Yes. So that was the challenge in high school. And you got into dentistry school, so you got all your grades that were needed. And what do you think has been the reward of facing these different challenges? Have you got that reward yet?

Pete:        00:11:46  I don’t know. I think I went to your first-year uni, I was terrified I was going to be discovered as being a failure or a fraud or somebody who just wasn’t good enough. I expected to be exposed and I’m still probably carrying a lot of that around with me. And there’s almost a drive to, to be the best and to demonstrate your technical ability to prove yourself. And that’s, that’s quite a funny thing to have in you. And I think that’s part of dyslexia as well,

Darius:             00:12:26 Which kind of leads us on to this test. Yes. Because now you’re facing this test. Why are you, I mean, I, I’ve, I said, why don’t you go and get this test done? Why, have you said yes? I mean, you’re paying out 500 quid for this test. why?

Pete:        00:12:43  I think I’m looking for a bit of or a bit of closure or a ticking a box. I have read books on dyslexia, I read the dyslexic advantage. When you mentioned that on your podcast. I kinda followed you Darius on Facebook and every time we see we chat and I’m like, there are certain things in that book about writing in capitals. I do that. Certain things about confusing a P and a B, I do that. Mixing up letters, mixing up numbers. I’m terrible for if you read it your phone number to me, I will write it down wrong. It’s one of the things I really struggle with. What else? What’s the next question? I’ve lost it.

Darius:             00:13:35 Okay. You’ve lost that. There was, so what do you feel, uh, what your feelings like, I mean, tell us a little bit about what you feel about this test coming up. this assessment.

Pete:        00:13:47  So I um, I’m looking forward to it, but I’m quite nervous because we chatted about this and I’m slightly nervous I’m not dyslexic classic because, well that means you’re just not that bright. I think way back in my head somewhere, there’s the concept of if you’re dyslexic, you’re a bit stupid or you’d a bit thick. That is a big thing for me. And going for this test, it’s almost an admitting to myself that maybe I’m a bit stupid or maybe I’m a bit thick, but I think I’m trying to get through. It’s realizing that my brain works differently and the way that my brain works is the way that I think that everyone’s brain works. But in actual fact, my brain works differently in my brain actually works better than most people’s brains. So.

Darius:             00:14:46 Well you definitely are one of the most intelligent people I know and one of the most competent people I know as well. Not just a person with potential but with a person with realized potential.

Pete:       00:14:58  Yeah. The funny thing, I was doing an extra Roller College of surgeons exam in the summer and me, there are three parts to the exam. I don’t think I’ve told you this Darius? Have I told you this? So this,

Darius:             00:15:13 You mentioned one of, you mentioned a little bit about the story. Love to hear it again.

Pete:        00:15:17  Okay. I’ll give you the story again. So I’m doing the Roller College of surgeons and there are three parts to the exam. There’s a written MCQ paper, which as a dyslexic, you have to work really hard. You have to read the question, reread it, and then you have to fill in that silly computer grid and you’re terrified that you’re going to get every question in the wrong column because that’s just something that you’re terrified about. But you’ve done them before, you’ve practised it. You can, you can pass that. So I passed that part of the exam. The third part of the exam is the second, sorry, there are four parts. The second part of the exam is a written paper. Sure. Answers scenarios. Describe how you would fix this, how you do that, how you’d help us. We can do that. That’s fine. You could practice it. So that’s good. Passed those two parts. That’s a written paper. The last part, the exam is an oral and so you sit down and you talk with an examiner who has looked at your case presentations. You present four cases and they pick your highest best case and pick your lowest case, Buddhist case. And you then talk about the advantages and disadvantages of what you did and what you could’ve done better. But that’s again, that’s very good because I know the cases inside out and I knew it better then the examiner knows because it’s my patient, it’s my work that I’ve done. So I passed that part of the exam, the part that I didn’t pass was, a clinical scenario part. So you walk around the room, there are 15 sessions, 15 five minutes sessions with an actor and examiner. You have two minutes before you walk into the room to read a page of A4 that, tells you what you know about to experience when you walk into the room. That’s what I couldn’t do. I couldn’t read the page of A4 before walked into the room. I stood there and I had to use my finger. I have to put my finger on the page of A4, I’m quite nervous before I walk into the room, and, I actually, I’m standing and I’m struggling to read the page of A4 and, and I’m thinking this is so much harder for me because I’m really struggled to read A4 page of text printed computer texts, computer screens. I really struggled to read. There you go

Darius:             00:17:43 and then, because you didn’t comprehend that that one sheet of A4, you failed that subject.

Pete:        00:17:50  you, you walk into it, into this scenario, I’m kind of hoping that I have read it and understand it and comprehend, it properly, but if I’ve best a tiny fragment of information on that, I’m really working hard to try and pick up from the scenario and for the actor in the room what actually has happened. But if I’ve not got it on the, on the sheet, I really a disadvantage and only have two minutes to do it. So I along the shore, that is I failed the exam by two points. So I’m going to have to go back and do the exam. So next summer I’m going to go back and re-reset the exam. But I reckon I can pass it quite comfortably because I’ll just train myself. I’ll, I’ll come up with a plan.

Darius:             00:18:42 Yeah. Like, well what I would advise students, the younger teenagers that if they were in a scenario like that is to go with a pencil and underline every third word that you felt was relevant and then reread all the individual underlined words again, giving an extra line to one out of three words again and then of all the double lined words, reread those and give them an extra line. And what you’re doing is your kind of reading the question three times, but not reading all the texts three times and you’re kind of, zooming in in chunks and you’re not worrying too much of, have I got it all? Because you’re accepting that you’ve not got it all on the first cut, but you’ve got rid of all the “the’s and and’s” and all the filler pieces, and you just keep cutting and cutting in three steps rather than relying on one step, which is one of the reasons why it dyslexics are given a little extra time, because it’s not a reading assessment is it? It’s a dentistry assessment.

Pete:        00:19:59  Yes. exactly. It’s just fascinating that I think it’s that thing of, I think that made me realize actually if I had more time, so I’m only given two minutes. If I had just a little bit more time, I would’ve been a lot. I would have passed the exam. Definitely.

Darius:             00:20:20 Yeah. And for the listeners listening, I mean, this is such a strange thing to hear because you’re such a good dentist, it’s just like, and then the reality actually a lot of you, the assistance and different people you have round about you because you’ve got huge team around you to help you do the amazing stuff that you do. They would read half the stuff off the screen to you and you’d be listening to it and you go, yeah, right. Okay. Got It. Yeah, yeah. Right. We need to do this. Go do that. Go do this.

Pete:        00:20:49  That’s one of my coping strategies and it’s taking me a long time to figure it out. Why do and how I do it. But I dictate everything. I ask my nurses to read the computer screens and, and tell me what the computer screen is seeing because they can tell me the information a wee quicker than I can do. And it’s these little habits that dyslexics figure out. Spreadsheets are a complete nightmare. And, you know, don’t ask me about money because I’m terrible at that. But I have someone who can do that part of the business. And I think it’s realizing the certain things you can do really well and there are certain things he cannot do and build a team of people round about you who can do the things that you’re not good at and it allows you to do the things that you can do and what you can do is absolutely stunning.

Darius:             00:21:48 You’ve kind of exemplified that, staying in your zone of genius, you know, your zone of genius is practically getting inside of someone’s mouth, solving all those problems and then other people have their specialist roles to support that and deliver that and result to people. So we’re halfway through and you’re just about to go into your dyslexia assessment and then right after it, or very soon after it, we’re going to hear your response afterwards how you feel because it’s going to be interesting to see how you feel.

Pete:        00:22:32  I’m apprehensive. I’m excited. I’m intrigued as to what it’s going to be like and how I’m gonna feel during the test. Yeah.

Darius:             00:22:44 One of the things about the test is that because it’s a pure IQ type test, mostly you end up being able to do quite a lot of the stuff very straightforwardly. And I remember when I was doing it, the assessor was like, oh, and there’s this one, and I’m like, all right, I can do this. Yeah. Oh, I did that. Oh, I can do this and you can do this is quite unusual to be in a test where you’re actually performing well. I came up with an idea that might… Let me test it on you. An explanation. As you know, my daughter went and got her tests done three months ago, two months ago, and I’ve been struggling to try and find some practical way to explain the difference between IQ working memory and processing speed. Because in her test, her IQ was high and her processing speed was low. And so how do you explain that? that processing doesn’t mean you’re not intelligent. So I came up with a solution. It’s like a stick shift car. Have you heard this on Facebook? Any of my explanations on what do you think? Do you like the stick shift car analogy? Does it make sense to you

Pete:        00:23:59  I do I like it and, and I’m a bit like, is it that simple? I don’t know. I don’t know. What’s a good analogy? I love analogies. I think analogies are really powerful and I think dyslexics love analogies and I think because we are really visual people.

Darius:             00:24:17 But your question is, is it an accurate analogy or is there, uh, so I’ll, I’ll give the analogy for the listeners just so that they, if they don’t know this, so basically the analogy is this. When you get your dyslexia assessment, it’s kind of like, if you think of your brain as a car, they’ve analyzed your engines’ IQ what’s the power of your engine? That’s your IQ. Then they analyze your working memory, which is a what store, well, how many units of information can you use in your very short term working memory? It’s not your short term memory is your working memory. And I liken that to the amounts of seats you have in the car. You might be a three seater car, a five-seater car, seven seater car. Most people have seven seater or five-seater cars, five to seven units at, within their working memory. Dyslexics tend to have two or three seats or units. And then you’ve got the boot, the trunk of the car, which is what you temporarily carry temporary stuff, you know, while you’re on the trip, this relevant to the passengers in the car. So they might be a short bit of information or something on that. And then you deliver it to where it’s meant to go and it gets put in its long term home, which is maybe the carriage or the house or something. So that’s my analogy for a car. But there’s another step in that is that some cars are stick shift cars and some cars are automatic cars. And so have you heard that bit as well to go for that as well? Okay. So if you think about a lot of people when they drive their car and when they’re teaching people how to drive their car, if you’re in America, 90% of cars are automatic cars. And imagine your, um, in a class full of kids and the job of the teacher is to teach you to drive your car and your car is your brain, learn to drive your brain. Now the teacher knows how to drive an automatic. And imagine if some of those kids in that class didn’t have automatic cars but had stick shift car. they had a stick shift Ferrari or a stick shift, Ford. It doesn’t make them any slower. It doesn’t make the car any less valuable or useful. It just means it’s got a manual transmission compared to an automatic transmission. And so the way the teacher would say, now this in, so let me break all this down in fancy terms for a dyslexia assessment. So, an assessor will say you have phonological processing problems. Okay. Which basically means, your sounds, the sounds you are breaking, connecting up all the sounds of a word together into words and then into sentences is harder for you than someone else. Now the way I would explain that is to say your a manual phonological processor compared to an automatic phonological processor. Okay. For someone who’s driving an automatic, they still need to click into D to drive, but it’s one action and that one action has bundled in it the four or five gears that it needs to go up and down. Whereas for other thinkers, they are manual stick shift thinkers manually phonologically fit things together. Right. That’s a burn. That’s a that’s a back. Okay. And then I need to go up another gear and join those words together to make a sentence and then go up another gear to comprehend it all. So there are four gears that you’re manually learning to go up, but can you imagine being taught how to drive a stick shift car by someone who only has ever driven an automatic?

Pete:        00:28:20  Yup. Yup. I get it. I get it. I, I’m just worried that I’ve been given a bike. The assessor’s gonna turn at me on Tuesday and say, I’m sorry. I don’t know how you have managed to get as far as you’ve got in life, but you’re just riding a bicycle and the rear tire is flat and your front wheel is wonky. You’ll never amount to anything. That’s just why I imagine will happen

Darius:             00:28:57 it’s funny Pete because you know, it’s, it’s kind of like you’ve still got that child inside of you and you also the adult both at the same time.

Pete:        00:29:06  Hmm. But then that’s a powerful thing. That’s a powerful thing. I, I want to be a child, you know, I don’t want to be, I want to be, I’ve, why would you want to grow up and grow old? Yeah. Cause life is for learning and living and discovering and trying new things. And why would you, why would you want to become old?

Darius:             00:29:37 Yeah. Peter Pan. That’s it. Brilliant. Pete. Pete, right. Well, we’re halfway through. Okay. And the next time our listeners will hear us will be once you’ve done the assessment and you can tell us what’s happened,

Darius:             00:29:58 So Pete, two days I’ve gone past and it’s happened and we’re back online now. I haven’t actually spoken to you yet about this. This is us straight off. So what’s happened? What’s the story

Pete:        00:30:12  today? This, this morning I travelled, I’ve had my official dyslexia assessment. Uh Huh.

Darius:             00:30:21 What happened? Well, what was it like? I mean you went over to Dunbar and um, you met with her.

Pete:        00:30:30  Yeah. Went over to Dunbar, drove over and a little bit mixed, wee bit apprehensive driving across the thinking. What’s this test going to be like? You know, uh, she’s lovely and very warm person, very likeable, instantly got on really well with her, had a lovely chat and then kind of gently went through the process. And the process was actually quite a lovely experience. You’d said to me, Darius, that certain things you’ll find really easy and you’ll think, oh, this is great. And certain tasks I was given, I found really easy and I was like, oh, this is great. I can do this and I’m not not intelligent. Yes, I can. I can do that. I could do that. I do. I cry easy. I can do this quite quickly and certain things are on a stopwatch. She’s like, yeah, that’s, that’s quite good. Yeah. Now I’m thinking, yeah, this is good. And then certain tasks particularly difficult and it’s quite funny. Yeah. One of the tasks don’t know how much to go into detail with you Darius but, what are the task is a kind of mental arithmetic. So John is standing in a queue, there are 180 people in the queue in front of them, 20 people at added to the queue, and the queue is moving at six people per minute. How long before Joni reaches the front of the queue? And I’m like, oh my goodness, eh, just, just tell me the question again. So she repeats the question. I’m like, oh my goodness. Right. 120 and I’m trying to work it out in my head. I’m like, oh, that’s him. Just tell me, tell me once more. Again, I think it just needed a little bit more clarification. I said, she’s like, if a tell you any more, you get no points.

Pete:        00:32:18  I’m like, you know, I can’t work. I have no ability to string that together. It’s very difficult. And the other classic was the part of the test where you have to put the numbers and a numerical order and the alphabet in alphabetical order simultaneously while remembering it I could not do to see if my life and the other, then the other classic is the recounting back the numbers that some was just given to you, like a phone number. So seven, five, nine, two one, I can do that. Seven, five, eight, two, one yup. But when it gets more and more numbers are added to the string very quickly. I ran out of fingers. It’s so obvious that I’m working on my fingers and she’s laughing because she knows how my brain works and I know how my brain works and I’m like, you just keep going until I get it wrong. And she’s like, Yup. And then that’s, you know, failure is the, yeah. So that was very exciting and very quickly I realized that you know, my brain, certain things in my brain just don’t work quick enough or can’t take care of enough information. It can process it quickly enough. And I would ask her to repeat the question I’ve said, just let me check that again. And again, it’s a delaying tactic that I’ve developed over time that I would ask people to gain a little bit more time. Just to clarify, you said that I’ve heard it correctly, but I just want a little bit more time to let my brain process what’s going on. So I have discovered, or it has been confirmed to me today that I am dyslexic. Congratulations. Join the club. It’s quite funny cause it’s like, yes, you’re, superior. You’ve got very high and to let your very good at this, you’re very good at that. You’re very good at this. But your ability to process certain levels of strings of information is not as fast as some people. So, yeah, quite fascinating. So I kind, I went back to work, I went back to work and so all my staff were like, so how’d you get on? I’m like, well, I can’t do this and I cut to this and I can’t do this, but I’m very good at this and I’m, hey, you know this. They’re like, yeah, we know that. Yeah, we’d be happy to know that. So I feel a sense of relief. Maybe. Maybe that’s too strong. It kind of confirms to me kind of what I’ve known and what I’ve avoided. Because I’ve always associated dyslexia with being stupid or be slightly thick. And I think I’ve always struggled with that, that my brain doesn’t work as quickly as some people’s and therefore I’ve always thought of myself has been a bit stupid or a bit thick and I probably still struggle with that a little bit. So that’s how I feel.

Darius:             00:35:21 Have you been given any numbers?

Pete:        00:35:25  No. Numbers are going to come in a report and it’s going to be emailed in a couple of days. So, I purposely didn’t want to know the number cause I thought I can’t handle figuring out this of what that actually means. But she, she said you’re very high in all these areas but you’re very low in this area here. So that confirms that you are dyslexic.

Darius:             00:35:51 Yeah. Did she say you had a low processing speed?

Pete:        00:35:56  Yes. I think that was what. I think that was one of the things that she said. Yeah.


Darius:             00:36:01 And working memory. Did she say you had a low working memory? Low working memory? Yup. Yup. Okay. So I’m guessing she said you had a high IQ. Yup. I think that was there higher than average IQ. This is my guess. And a low working memory and a lower than average processing speed. Yup. So, it’s kind of like when those numbers are going into your brain, it’s like most people seating capacity in the car for the numbers are seven. That’s why phone numbers are seven digits long, you know, first three and then the next four. It’s like as you put one in because there aren’t seven seats in your car, one gets pushed out the window. Do you know what I mean? Yeah,

Pete:        00:36:47  Yep. I’ve always struggled with phone numbers. I can, you know, I, if somebody tells me their phone number, I asked them to write it down. That’s one of my coping mechanisms. I’ll see. Let me just get a piece of paper. Let me write that down because I know that if I don’t write it down, I won’t remember it. And we chatted a lot about I’m forever writing notes in my iPhone to my self to remain myself about certain things. So if somebody says to me, Oh, I’ve read this book, it’s quite a good book. I need to actually write the name of the book, down, because I will never remember the name of the book, that you’ve told me to go and read. So I, I write myself notes lots of times.

Darius:             00:37:26 Have you come across Google keep? What is Google Keep? Google keep is like a little app that Google does within its stable of apps for, for taking notes. So it kind of takes the place of your note-taking app off of the phone or ever note or something like that. And it’s a very powerful little app for stuff like that. And it’s got checklists facility on it as well. Also, put a reminder on a note. And notes can also be geo located. So whenever you walk into a certain place, that note will pop up. Oh, that’s clever. I like that. So it’s really quite clever as a sort of, it’s not, a big, you can type substantial stuff in it, but it’s not really meant for that. But it’s a really handy little note taking app.

Pete:        00:38:29  One thing she did mention was exploring dictation type software. So I can write better trough dictation, eh, and or learning to touch type. Cause it’s one thing I don’t do is touch type. So, um, that was two positive things coming out of it to go ahead to, to look at was dictation software and learn to touch type. Okay.


Darius:             00:38:58 Did she tell you to learn to mind map?

Pete:        00:39:01  Do you know? We did chat. A lot of it mind mapping, it’s there and we mentioned what you’re doing. Um, and very positive light. For me, I use a form of mind mapping to, to get stuff out of my head. And I love it for that. So if I’m thinking about doing a talk or a lesson or I will write the seam in the middle and I’ll have various branches coming off a bit like a mind map, and I will then probably put it in a linear fashion. And then certain parts may don’t make the final cut. So I ended up with a linear document at the end. Whereas when I’ve looked at your stuff you do you make it like, you go in a spiral and you’re going a certain duration which would be fantastic for memorizing it to learn a topic. I think that’s, I need to explore what you do Darius because it’s, it’s probably a step above what I’ve been doing previously with mind mapping.

Darius:             00:40:08 Yeah. I mean it’s all sorts of different ways you can use the tool. Yeah. One way that you might quite like as a technique I’ve developed called the BulletMap method where you take one sheet of A4 and on the left-hand third of the page, you just bullet point all of your random thoughts. And so what it means is it’s really helpful for dyslexics because sometimes when you’re doing a mind map, you’re thinking about the thoughts and then you think, should I put it here or should I put it there? And you’re kind of, And it’s not really using your processing speed very effectively. So I split it into two chunks. So I go, right, I’m only going to think about what’s in my brain and capture all those things and put it straight down in a list. I told you to think about where or what I’m writing or whether it’s an important keyword or anything. I just write it down like a bullet point list. And then I, and I reread the list and I underline the keywords. And then I moved the keywords over into a mind map and that mind map ends up becoming much more useful because that process becomes a structured map rather than a random expression of my thoughts. And then in the bottom right-hand corner, well I do, as I say, right? You’ve sorted it. The next step is what is the next achievable step you’re going to do? Or what is the actual outcome and that bottom right-hand corner am, I end up actually becoming a written text document. Like I give a talk on, you know, and I read it out because I need to be succinct. So it’s, it’s very similar to what you’re talking about, but a little bit more structured. So that you use more of your processing speed on a particular topic. So do you get a badge? What’s next? You got a secret handshake or ducts to adjust to this parking space at the supermarket. Oh, a blue badge. You’re disabled. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. Because I suppose technically, legally now you’ve been um, you know, stumped. You’re disabled.

Pete:        00:42:34  that I’ve, I’ve, yeah, I’ve always avoided to label because it didn’t light the label. but now, I have the label and maybe I should get a t-shirt made that says I’m a dyslexia and I’m proud or maybe I’m not ready for that yet. I’m a, I’m a closet dyslexic. Is this possible? Yes. And then, but if you have a diagnosis, I’m still in the closet, but I, but I have a diagnosis that confirms it to myself and at some point, I will come out the closet and admit to everyone have a proper dyslexic. I think we need, to rebrand, I think we need to rebrand. We need a makeover of dyslexia. So it sounds a wee bit more attractive. and somebody needs to invent a word that’s easier to spell because I actually can’t spell dyslexia.

Darius:             00:43:26 Have you seen Eddie Izzards skit on dyslexia? He’s funny because he’s dyslexic as well, Right. Okay. He’s totally dyslexic. I mean, once you get your iron, it’s like, um, you know, you’re talking about getting, coming out the closet, you know, um, you start to be able to see dyslexia and people in the way they talk in the way they explain things. dyslexics explain things in a certain way. They talk in a random way. Really talk in a visual way. They make up words. Yeah. They make up words. They, they mash up different ideas and concepts and yeah, just pull in the most random things.

Pete:        00:44:18  So do dyslexics like other dyslexics, do we get on well together? You know, am I going to find new friends with dyslexic people? Are some of my friends that I already have this because I can, I like the way they talk and they think,

Darius:             00:44:35 ah, right. That’s an that’s an interesting conundrum. Yes. So we’re friends we’re friends. Exactly.

Pete:        00:44:42  Exactly. Moving on from that they are, our life partners, are they dyslexic or not dyslexic? Do we actively choose somebody that’s a wee bit more organized or structured because we actually are, what happens if two dyslexics get together? That must be chaos.

Darius:             00:45:01 Oh yeah, totally. Yeah. I think dyslexics tend, I would say from my experience, which is limited, so you know, I would think that most people choose a partner that compliments them. Okay. And I think that is a general kind of pattern on the whole. And with dyslexics, I think they choose a person that is more naturally organized, more naturally systematic. You know, Jackie Stewart, famous racing car driver, Scottish, he can’t read. And he didn’t tell his wife until he was 43 and yeah. And he was a multimillionaire running three different businesses. Wow. And he couldn’t read any of the documents. Wow. And he tells this story about how when it was people had checkbooks before credit cards, he would go into a shop and buy something and he’d start writing the check and then he realized, oh gosh, I can’t write that word, that number. 123 pounds. So we’d buy something else until it became a number. He could write. Keeps buying stuff until it was something crazy. And, but I talk about coping strategies. And so he relied on his wife to do a lot of the reading and analysis for him. I mean, Richard Branson tells this story about a board room meeting. He had the largest private group of companies in Europe and they were having a board meeting and someone presented the cash flow numbers. And when they presented them, he said, so is that good or not? And he turns to another financial guy and he starts explaining it. Yeah, this is quite good, et cetera. And so on. And then his friend afterwards on the board of directors said, Richard, do you know the difference between gross profit and net profit? And Richard Goes, well, not really, as long as it makes more money than we’re spending, I’m okay. And he goes, I thought you didn’t. And so do you know what he did? He got out a Napkin and he drew a picture of a net in a boat with a sea of fish. And he said, so if you imagine this whole sea is our gross profit, everything that we take away is the net profit. And so the net profits ours, and because he drew it on a bit of paper and just took the time to explain it, Branson in his forties goes, yeah, I get net profit. That’s great. And Bronson goes, and, and afterwards, he talks about this on youtube and so on. He says, you know, I go out to people in, I say net profit, you know, it’s meant to be impressive, and they’re like, you’re a multibillionaire and you’re proud of knowing net profit. But he just, he says, I know how to put together good teams of people and I know how to give customers what they really need and want and I value them. And I also, he also has this thing which is the Richard Test. It’s got to be simple enough for Richard to understand it and if he can’t understand it, it doesn’t go out and advertising or brochures. And so that’s why he’s done well because he’s learned how to delegate and build teams.

Pete:        00:48:46  Yeah, definitely. It’s a massive skill that we need and because nobody can do on their own, you know, all the best of the best organizations are run by teams. All the best dental practices that I come across are run by effective teams. You can be the best dentist in the world, but if you don’t have an effective team round about you, you’re not the best dentist.

Darius:             00:49:10 Yeah. Sometimes I think I’m just not dyslexic enough because if I was more dyslexic and I couldn’t read or write like Jackie Stewart or like some of Branson’s issues, then I would have to delegate. But the thing is, sometimes I can do a bit, so I just do it for longer and do it harder and, and just struggle along. Whereas sometimes it’s like, no, this is not my zone of genius. I’m going to delegate it to someone else’s zone of genius

Pete:        00:49:46  I think that’s, that’s a challenge. I’ve spent ages trying to write up audit reports and I’ll sit there for a long time at the computer and I and it just takes me forever and my wife can write a report and it was, she did one today and about an hour and a half and it would have taken me three nights to write the report.

Darius:             00:50:06 Yeah. I kind of, I went to university with Jo at the same, we went to university together. I did the law degree on, you were doing dentistry. That was what years ago? Yeah. And then I went back to theology college for a few years to do a diploma and Jo did that course with me at the same time and we were doing some of the same courses, reading the same books. I could not believe what she could do. She could think about something, sit down and just write about what she was thinking about and keep a systematic order. I just couldn’t believe it. And the essay would be done and I would like it’s done. And she says, yeah, yeah, I think. I said, where are your notes on it? Oh yeah, I read the notes, but I’ve been thinking about it for the last week and a half and I just got it all down. I’m like, that is just crazy.

Pete:        00:51:03  Yeah. What are the other parts of it? The assessment is to maybe do it too much to assessment, but it’s, it’s a funny story that she’s like, write a short paragraph, a give me four facts a bit. Something you’re, you’re, you’re quite interested in. So as you left the room to get a glass of water. So I wrote about snowboarding and how much I enjoy snowboarding and why I like snowboarding. So, I wrote four bullet points. I like snowboarding because, of the mountains, the fresh air and the way it makes you feel. And the way you get to see lovely scenery four points. Job Done took be three minutes and she came back into the, Oh you’re done. And I was like, yeah. She’s like, must be a creative piece. And I’m like, it’s clear they’ve got four facts. And I’m like, do you want me to talk about it? Cause I could talk about it for half an hour. But that’s the outline of the talk. But yeah, no, it was very funny. I thought, oh my goodness, you want it to be more than three words for each bullet point. Very funny. So yeah, sorry. The other question was, is there a club? Is Their club, is there a t-shirt? Is there a secret handshake? A badge?

Darius:             00:52:26 No, there isn’t. maybe you meet people, you have a competition about how dyslexic you are compared to each other.

Pete:        00:52:38  And like, yeah Rock, paper, scissors. Yeah, dyslexia. Yeah.


Darius:             00:52:44 Well No, not really. I mean, the interesting thing though is that it’s very different for different people. You know, it literally is like different kinds of vehicles. And when you, when you compare standard mass-produced vehicles that are automatic vehicles on the car, on the road, you know it’s not huge variations in them, but when you start getting more specialized vehicles that are more manual stick shift, which is a hallmark of more specialized vehicles, like you know, you have very powerful engine and it’s a tractor, it’s not very good on the road, keeps all the traffic going on the road. But boy when you’re on the field you’ve got some really good traction powered, does all sorts of really good stuff that are off-road vehicles or emergency vehicles. And those are all dyslexics. Do you know what I mean? And they’re all very different from each other. So you might say, okay, I’ve just looked at your brain and I can see you’ve got an IQ of 130 something. So you’ve got a high powered engine. I can see that you’ve got a very small working memory. So you’ve only got two seats in the car. And I can see that you’ve got a very small processing speed, which is like your boot. Now that definition could be one of a Ferrari or a pickup or a Laurie, you know, Laurie with a big engine, two seats and a small boot because it’s not got big, it’s got a little cab and then you hitch on a trailer on the back or a tractor. But from the outside, when you look at the raw stats, they look very similar. You’re all dyslexic, manual, stick shift, et Cetera. Do you know what I mean?

Pete:        00:54:39  Yeah, yeah, yeah. I understand. It’s all, it’s that thing. We all have amazing talents and abilities and it’s appreciating the talent that you do have. And you know, some of the people I work with are, are definitely dyslexic because they can create and they’ve told me, and they can create beautiful teeth that I fit in people’s mouths and part or their skill comes from the fact that they’re able to create beautiful things and sculpt things and create symmetry in colour and texture in 3D and work in 3D and, and do beautiful stuff that machines can’t do. You’re the whole craftsman thing is. So it’s, it’s, it’s an asset. Actually. I, I’ve come back, I’ve got to, I’ve got to go back and reread the dyslexic advantage book. Three quarters the way through it, and I need to go back and reread it so I can understand more

Darius:             00:55:42 I summarized some of the dyslexic advantage chapters in the podcast, by the way. So yeah. Are you going to accept that you’re not stupid? Are you going to make that choice? Are you going to kill this thing that says that little shadow from your childhood where it says, I’m stupid and I need to prove myself?

Pete:        00:56:05  Do you know, that’s a really good question. Yeah, I need to kill it. And it may take a little bit more time to kill because I got the report today seeing that you are exceptionally bright in this area and this area in this area in this year, which was actually quite encouraging, perform to the well in a lot of the tests. It’s only a certain small aspect of the test that I struggled with. So yeah, maybe I need to go and revisit that with some counselling.

Darius:             00:56:34 Well, I think you are smart. You are one of the smartest people I know. And you’ve got physical proof of it. Now you’ve just done a very high-level IQ test that thoroughly analyzes the different kinds of intelligence you have. And as a scientist yourself, you’ve got to accept that kind of thing, that you’re a Ferrari. That’s a manual stick shift rather than an automatic gearbox. It’s as simple as that. Nothing wrong with the engine. Yeah, Pete. Great. Thanks for sharing this story with all the other people who are going to be listening. And you told me not to spread it around too much. Keep it under wraps Yeah. Yeah. Okay. I want to tell too many people that will just go out on to iTunes and it’s the largest podcasting network in the world. Pete, the dyslexic dentist. maybe you’ll tell some of your, the kids who sit in your seat.

Darius:             00:57:47 Maybe that’s something to do. Uh, yeah, it’s a story that has to come at some point. Well Pete, thanks for sharing your story.

Darius:             00:57:55 Anything you want to share with any of the listeners? You know, I normally ask a set of questions, which is, you know, the set of questions is what was life like at the beginning, which we covered. What was the wake-up moment, which was very much your, that spelling test and then the higher English. And then what was the challenge you faced? How would we in this story say, what was the challenge you face? In many ways it was this dyslexia assessment, I think in this aspect of the story. And then the next question is, what is the reward that you got from facing that challenge? So you just faced a very immediate challenge, which was, do you know what I’m going to go and get that test done. And you face that challenge. Well, what rewards could you say you go from this? I know it was only how many hours ago, six hours ago.

Pete:        00:58:45  You know, I think I was this morning. Yeah, I think I’ve got a better understanding of myself. a better understanding of my strengths and my weaknesses. Like you say, I’m not stupid and there are certain things that I need a bit of help with and I could probably benefit from writing more things down. It’d been a bit more organized and delegating a lot more things. And um, I think it really helps me go forward. so that’s the benefit is to realize that I think we can often think we need to be able to do everything. You know, to be a successful business person, you have to be able to understand the spreadsheet. You have to be able to x, y, zed and adults think we do. I think we need to gather a team of people round about us. We need to lead that team. We need to delegate. We need to look after people, care for people and encourage people. I think that’s our jobs as team leaders or business people. And I think I can do that really well and I don’t have to be someone who is very good at English to do that.

Darius:             00:59:58 I ask people, what advice would they give their teenage self? If you could send a card back in time to your teenage self, what would it say on the front of the card and what would it say on the inside?

Pete:        01:00:13  Good crash. I would say learn to speak French because French is the language of the Alps. And when you go skiing, when you’re older, you will be able to properly, because I could, I can’t, French, she was a complete nightmare for me. Even worse than English, you know, English was terrible. French was even worse. So I would say to myself. French is the language of the Alps. Learn to speak French and you will have the best time ever. No, seriously, what would, I would say you’ve got a unique gift. Learn what it is, and go and use it and change the world because of it. Because we’re desperate for people to change the world. And I think that’s what we’re all called to do or asked to do or is just find what it is that makes you come alive. And then as you come alive the world round about you will come alive because we make, we each individually make the world a better place. and I think that’s what we’re meant to do in the world. A better place.


Darius:             01:01:22 Advice to yourself as a parent?

Pete:        01:01:24  Don’t be too hard on yourself, I think. Yeah. Don’t be too hard and enjoy the, uh, the gift that your intelligence is. And I think, you know, life can be hard, so enjoy it. Don’t make it harder than it needs to be.

Darius:             01:01:45 brilliant on that. I think Pete, we’ll call it a day there, right? Yeah,

Pete:        01:01:55  yeah. The excellent Darius, you know, if they, if you ever need me to come back and

Darius:             01:02:03 definitely, oh, you have to tell that story about when you were at high school and you couldn’t find your way around the, the time table and you came up with a solution. What was that? Yeah.

Pete:        01:02:20  right. So, uh, yeah, so a high school learning your time table if you’re a dyslexic kid or if he kind of. I could never learn my timetable, but I didn’t know where awards, didn’t know if it was a Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday and, and I could never learn it and it would take me until about Christmas time to learn my timetable French and Monday, first thing or so you would carry all your books and your bag in case you were had the wrong class and at the wrong time. And eventually, I figured out that there was a girl who had some of the classes to see was my classes. She causes she wanted to hang out with me and she learned my timetable. I learned, just ask her, I would say hi. You know, why half next? And she’d look at me, go if you’ve got English. And I’d be like, oh thanks. And then wander off to the English department. And then I’d be out at break time and I say, do you know why I have next? Be like, yeah, that was brilliant. That was my life hack. I thought everyone, everyone had like a personal assistant who would memorize their timetable for them because I could never memorize my timetable,

Darius:             01:03:41 well that’s teamwork, isn’t it? That is what dyslexics do. They find the strengths of other people to compensate for their own. Yeah. Just what you were doing there. Definitely. Brilliant. Pete.

Links you might like to check out:


How To Equip Dyslexic Children To Thrive In School

Darius Namdaran

Darius Namdaran

Darius is a teacher and MD of BulletMap™ Studio. He's passionate about helping dyslexic children, and their parents, get through High School with their confidence intact. From his own experience with dyslexia and raising children with dyslexia he has developed an online training business designed to equip and encourage dyslexic teenagers in their journey through High School.
His company produces Mindmap videos full of tips and encouragement to help understand dyslexia and to thrive in High School.
He is the designer and senior tutor of the first Mind mapping course for Dyslexic Teenagers called the BulletMap Method.

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