In our conversations so far, at least five surveyors mentioned that they had dyslexia. The more we tuned in to this topic, we started to hear that more and more surveyors would declare themselves as neurodiverse, having different conditions. This is why Marion invited chartered surveyor Garret Kellett and Chloe Gillie who is the founder of Inclusiva.UK to discuss neurodiversity and dyslexia in the workplace, and how to create a more inclusive surveying or any other industry.
Having worked in education for almost 20 years, Chloe Gillie was surprised to receive an adult diagnosis of ADHD at age 35. She is passionate about self-declaration and using her strengths and resilience to thrive in the workplace. During lockdown, she has created accessible texts for children with Autism and additional needs to learn about diverse role models.
Garret Kellett is MRICS MRPSA and is the founder of Urban Surveyors. Garret left school with 2 GCSE’s and after being diagnosed with Dyslexia in later years, graduated from the University of Salford with a first-class degree with honours, in Building Surveying. The main focus of his survey work is building pathology.
What Neurodiverse Actually Means
“It is an umbrella term,” Chloe begins to explain. “Basically, it is a diversion from what is considered as typical or normal. When I was diagnosed with ADHD at 35, initially, the advice I was given was not to tell anybody, which I felt quite horrified by because I worked in a special needs school. But I found that, since I’ve been open about my condition and been able to explain to staff what it looks like and how I work, it’s just been so much better for everybody in the team. I would say that even though these conditions could be put as an invisible disability, the way in which it affects your life is not invisible. You need to be open and honest with those who you work with so that you can have the best outcome for everybody.”
She adds that neurodiverse conditions manifest in many different ways. One person with ADHD or autism is completely different to another. Although there are some common traits and certain behaviours, there is a risk of stereotyping, whereas each individual is different.
Resilience And Coping Strategies
Despite many of them being diagnosed later in life, surveyors who have been struggling with dyslexia have demonstrated amazing resilience to get where they are today, running their own businesses and having an absolute passion for the work that they do.
“Often with a late diagnosis,” Chloe continues, “you’ve inadvertently developed coping skills that you just didn’t realize you had. When I looked into my coping strategies that I had employed at work, they were actually in the recommended coping strategies for someone with ADHD or autism, which I had never formally been taught, but I had acquired them in life. So I guess we could be a fantastically resilient bunch with fantastic work ethic.”
Garett, who was diagnosed at the age of 27, goes on to describe how being dyslexic showed up in his studying and work, and what coping strategies he has been using.
“At university, I allocated extra time to do my exams. There was also an allowance made for things like spelling mistakes. At work I’ve often had that sinking feeling that you get when you work on a report, you send it off, and there’s a spelling mistake in it. Those setbacks really affected me as a young professional. Then it was a case of putting mechanisms in place. I use Grammarly, which checks all my documents and emails. I have a PA who does all our appointments and scheduling on the admin side, which is really good. For things like instructions on my email, I’ve set templates which basically cuts out in half the time to write an email.”
What Support Is Available to People With Neurodiverse Conditions
Chloe has sought the support of Access to Work in order to be assessed to receive reasonable adjustments which enabled her to manage her working life. She recommends it to anyone with neurodiverse conditions and different kinds of disabilities.
“This has made an enormous difference to the point where I no longer just survive each day, but I have actually begun to thrive and achieve my true potential,” she says. “Access to Work is the most unclaimed benefit which will support anyone in work with additional needs or disabilities to access their job and make the workplace more inclusive. It can pay for physical items such as adapted furniture or ramps, as well as ongoing sessions such as coaching or counselling. For me, the support I’ve got is a coaching session. Initially, I got it once a week, and now I get it bi-weekly or depending on how often I need that intervention. That has been an absolute revelation, and it has made me much more effective at work. Also, it’s given me the room to be a bit nicer to myself, and to kind of empower me to make decisions and not to always feel guilty about everything.”
Making The World Accessible To More People
Garret and Chloe are encouraging people who are experiencing challenges related to neurodiverse conditions to test for diagnosis, seek support and continue to pursue their goals.
“By making the world accessible to more people, you’re only going to enhance the overall environment. Some companies can wince at the cost of adapting resources in such a way that more people can access them. But having a more inclusive organization, no matter what kind of work you’re in, is only going to yield benefits in the long term,” says Chloe.
Garett’s advice for young surveyors is not to be ashamed of dyslexia.
“I left school with two GCSEs and it’s not held me back to go to university and get a first class degree with honors and the second highest mark in the entire year. Dyslexia is not something to be embarrassed about. It’s something that you can live with, put steps in place to try to make things easier, and go out there and have a really successful career.”
- Access to Work https://www.gov.uk/access-to-work
- Accessible Version of Sharon’s Story. A Diversity Hero! https://www.linkedin.com/posts/chloe-gillie-a854631b4_accessible-version-of-sharons-story-a-activity-6696386734009155584-_Nqw
- The British Dyslexia Association – Style Guide https://cdn.bdadyslexia.org.uk/documents/Advice/Dyslexic-Employee/Dyslexia_Style_Guide_2018-final.pdf?mtime=20190409173541
- Key Points About Dyslexia for Busy Teachers http://www.brainhe.com/staff/types/dyslexiatextstaff.html
- A Quick Guide for Making Your Content Accessible https://www.dyslexic.com/blog/quick-guide-making-content-accessible/
- Dyslexia Starter Kit https://toolkits.excellencegateway.org.uk/dyslexia-starter-kit
- Guide to Inclusive Learning and Teaching https://cdn.harper-adams.ac.uk/document/page/155_Guide-to-inclusive-learning-and-teaching.pdf
- Designing Learning Materials for Dyslexic Students https://www.open.edu/openlearn/health-sports-psychology/designing-learning-materials-dyslexic-students
- Making Your Service Accessible: An Introduction https://www.gov.uk/service-manual/helping-people-to-use-your-service/making-your-service-accessible-an-introduction
- National Education Union https://neu.org.uk/
- Amanda Clack FRISC: What is the future of skills in construction? https://www.rics.org/eu/news-insight/future-of-surveying/talent-and-skills/what-is-the-future-of-skills-in-construction/