Being Dyslexic Is Cool!

I am really excited to properly introduce our guest writer, best selling children's writer, Tom McLaughlin. 

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Tom McLaughlin

Tom Mclaughling is an author and illustrator from Devon. He works with Bloomsbury, Oxford University Press, Puffin, Simon & Schuster, Egmont and Scholastic. Before getting into publishing he spent nearly 10 years as political cartoonist for the Western Morning News. He’s also worked as animation designer and script writer for Nickelodeon and  Disney. 
Tom's latest book 'The Accidental Prime Minister' can be found here.

In a recent post I reviewed his book, 'The Story Machine' .  I contacted him soon after to ask him to write a little about his experiences of having dyslexia and he kindly sent me this...

Tom writes...

I’ve decided that being dyslexic is cool. 

That’s right, you heard me cool. 

Imagine someone asked you to take a pill that meant that you thought differently to other people, that your brain works in a more creative way, or that you’re better at problem solving than others. Imagine thinking in a similar way to the likes of Albert Einstein, Steven Spielberg, or Robin Williams. 

Imagine having something about you that meant that Mi6 would want you to work for them, because you have the skills that others don’t. 

Would you take the pill? 

Most would. I would! 

I wish I’d known about this when I was younger. For years I was deeply ashamed of being dyslexic. I thought words belonged to other people, clever people, who knew their adverb from their past participle. People who could read a children’s picture book without getting stuck, or without having to be corrected by one’s own child while reading them a bedtime story. I found out in the late 80s that I had this thing, but times were different then and as hugely liberating as it was to give a label to this thing, this thing that made me embarrassed to read in class, ashamed to hand in a story I’d written because it was littered with spelling mistakes and backwards letters; it didn’t make any difference to my day-today-life. 

I decided that books and school wasn’t for me. I needed something different in my life, something like drawing. Of course being able to excel at art was the the flip side of being dyslexic, something that didn’t occur to me at the time. Not being well read, meant I had to develop other skills, it meant I had to absorb words and language in other ways, through comedy, the likes of Blackadder, Monty Python, or Fry and Laurie, all which was great grounding for when I decided to take the leap and do something that I didn’t think was for me and write, actually write a story. 

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So while for a long time, I thought dyslexia was holding me back, things couldn’t be further from the truth. It was helping me.  Dyslexia enabled me to throw myself into art, into illustration, which helped me develop characters and ideas, which finally gave the confidence to write. And guess what? It turns out words are for me.
It turns out I’m all right at it. I make people laugh in my novels, I make people think with my picture books. 

So thank you dyslexia, thank you for being there, for being so cool. 

Tom McLaughlin
Children's Writer