This October 10 is National DYS day (Journée nationale des DYS). DYS-type disorders include dysphasia (spoken-language disorder), dyslexia (written-language disorder), and dyspraxia (movement and coordination disorder), as well as dysorthographia and dyscalculia. To mark the occasion, we had a chat with Marilyn Briand, Talent Acquisition Manager at Ubisoft Montréal, who is dyslexic.
Marilyn, what are the characteristics of your dyslexia?
When it comes to me, I have a very difficult time writing long texts and a near inability to learn anything by heart, which is to say procedural learning. I also have a hard time with subtle language, which is why I opt for candid conversations that get down to business. These are just a few examples of very personal drawbacks; all dyslexics are different.
And how can your dyslexia manifest itself concretely?
Often, I don’t use the right words or expressions, for instance “technology information” instead of “information technology”, “statue of limitations” instead of “statute of limitations”, “accept” instead of “except.” These are the kinds of mistakes I’ve made in my professional and my personal lives, but I have to make do—rather than “make due”—on the daily, that’s my reality.
How did school and your career path fare?
My dyslexia was often a problem. I failed psychometric tests and handwritten tests that didn’t take my disorder into account. At school, it took a long time before I got the support I needed; my grades obviously and unfortunately suffered. Afterward, professionally, I didn’t dare apply for jobs where I figured my dyslexia would be an issue. It definitely slowed down my career path.
Why is it important to you to talk about dyslexia today?
I have the impression that attitudes about the issue are starting to change. We’re talking more about neurodiversity, and I find it important to contribute by talking about my dyslexia openly. I fundamentally believe that it’s possible to use this condition as a strength. For instances, studies show that dyslexics use their right brain more than non-dyslexics, which contributes to developing superior analytical capacities. Many dyslexics have a facility for spatial intelligence… which is not particularly my case! Some can make quick links between different ideas or theories despite our weaker procedural memory. Also, when a theory and all the various aspects of an issue are thoroughly explained to us, our reasoning and our approaches are often more wholistic and complete. Finally, many say that our (numerous) errors make us charming, which is something I like to believe!
What’s your wish for DYS-type disorders in the future?
In 2021, the paradigm is changing: we’re celebrating one another’s differences and strengths and becoming a more inclusive world. Before, I would never have dared to write openly about my dyslexia. I hope that others, like me, won’t feel the need to hide their DYS-type disorder, won’t be scared to talk about it, so we can make attitudes change.
Do you have any further reading suggestions?
Yes! I recommend the book that helped me bring to light certain qualities that I have that’s called The Dyslexic Advantage by Brock L. Eide and Fernette F. Eide. I also invite you to check out the careers of celebrities who, like me, managed to take advantage of their dyslexia: Stephen Spielberg, Richard Branson and F. Scott Fitzgerald.