Shining A Light On Dyslexia Awareness Month
Dyslexia Awareness Month starts this Friday 8 October, kicking off with Auckland’s iconic Sky Tower being lit up turquoise.
Globally, October 8 is celebrated as International Dyslexia Day, with emblematic buildings in many countries throughout Europe, South America and Central America illuminated in the colour turquoise. These have included government buildings, fountains, bridges, schools and offices. The lighting event has been running since 2018, with turquoise standing for calm, peace, hope and optimism.
This year, New Zealand will join for the first time with the Sky Tower illumination. Guy Pope-Mayell, DFNZ Chair of Trustees, says the illumination is a symbol of solidarity for the estimated one in ten New Zealanders who are dyslexic.
“Lighting up the Sky Tower is literally a beacon for change. If you’re not dyslexic or neurodiverse, you’ll know someone who is. The more we shine a light on the prevalence of neurodiversity the more we create understanding and open up pathways for greater support and positive action.
“Dyslexia for example is commonly misunderstood as ‘just’ a problem with reading and writing. In reality it can affect a wide spectrum of skills including auditory and information processing, planning and organising, motor skills, and short-term memory and concentration.
“The upside is that once properly understood and addressed, dyslexia offers strengths in right brain thinking – big picture concepts, lateral thinking, enhanced visual/spatial understanding, high level conceptualisation, innovation, problem solving and empathy.
“Neurodiversity can bring great creative strengths, and unlocking this potential comes from small changes that give neurodiverse people the time and space to process information and thrive.
DFNZ is celebrating creative strengths with a focus on books for the rest of October -- books about dyslexia, books for harnessing the strengths of dyslexia, and books written by those with dyslexia.
These include ‘This is Dyslexia’ by British social entrepreneur Kate Griggs, ‘Adult Dyslexia: A guide for understanding the world of adult dyslexics’ by New Zealanders Jane Kjersten and Lynn Beresford, and ‘Proust and the Squid – the Story and the Science of the Reading Brain’ by Tufts University cognitive neuroscientist and child development expert Maryanne Wolf.
Fiction highlights include ‘The Incredibly Busy Mind of Bowen Bartholomew Crisp’ by Paul Russell; ‘Fish in a Tree’ by Lynda Mullally-Hunt; and ‘The Seven Shadows of Noah L'Estrange’ by Shey Pope-Mayell – son of DFNZ founders Guy and Suzanne Pope-Mayell.
DFNZ, established in 2006, is the country’s foremost lobby group for dyslexia and neuro difference. DFNZ has built its reputation on successful advocacy and action and has become the foremost lobby group in this area. From lobbying the Government for dyslexia to be officially recognised, achieved in 2007, through to working closely with the Government on the inclusive education agenda and raising the Youth Court age, the landscape for neurodiversities has been fundamentally changed.
In advocating for dyslexia, DFNZ has noted that experiences and issues for those dyslexia are often similar to those for other neurodiversities. And that getting it right for dyslexics means getting it right for all. For a number of years, therefore, DFNZ has included other neurodiversities within the scope of its work.
DFNZ has successfully run a number of dyslexia advocacy/action weeks between 2007 and 2015. In 2016, DFNZ convened a landmark Neurodisabilities Forum to explore vulnerability in the justice system. In 2020, it hosted the Neurodiversity Leadership Forum focused on recognising the strengths of diverse brains in the workplace. This year, it has hosted a series of Family Journey Forums to explore the family experience and introduce simple belief change tools to turn strive to thrive.