My name is Natalie Diamond & I’m dyslexic in word processing. Having been diagnosed at the late age of 16 years I’d spend most of my education completely in the dark of my diagnosis struggling and having self-taught coping mechanisms to fit in with what was regarded as the norm.
My early years in education were confusing, I didn’t grasp what was being asked of me and there were many humiliating moments where I was made to stand up in the class which caused me to feel different and stupid. It was so embarrassing. I once got smacked around the back of the legs at the age of eight for not understanding what the teacher meant when she told me the sky should be painted to where the ground meets it and not as I had painted it. Needless, to say, my mother didn’t stand for any of that nonsense and went straight to the headmaster with a formal complaint.
These experiences left me feeling sad and confused. I used to try and hide in class or avoid the teacher's stare, anything, so I wasn’t asked a question. I remember having to constantly ask my friend in class what our next task was as I couldn’t fully understand or remember the instructions. The nerves and dread of knowing I wouldn’t be able to understand exacerbated the situation further. My friend used to laugh at me and say didn’t you listen? This question/comment stuck with me and later, in my twenties, a friend of a friend commented on me saying ‘Natalie doesn’t listen’. As I write this blog these comments annoy the hell out of me. It’s important to remember that everyone is unique. Communication is not always spoken and received in some standard format that can be understood and acknowledged by everyone. One size most certainly does not fit all.
Lesson = Everyone is unique.
A few years back now I was watching an episode of the Simpsons in which Marge is giving instructions/talking to Homer and all Homer hears is Blah Blah Blah… I remember thinking Christ, (forgive me Father) that’s me and laughing to myself. That episode and discussion between Homer and Marge was a good way of describing my dyslexia to others. I don’t hear everything or grasp everything in the way it is relayed to me. I pick up on certain information and cling to that so I can see that instruction out to the best of my ability. With the information, I don’t grasp, I try and fathom my way forward and fill in the holes the best way I can. Of course, today there are many great aids people can use to capture content, I can record meetings with people’s permission and take notes which helps, although relying solely on taking notes can be a disaster, as you can’t take notes with information you cannot grasp… welcome to my world.
I live with my dyslexia and guess what? I still deliver in my work and day-to-day tasks; I just go about things differently. Somedays I may take a little longer than others, but I get there.
Lesson = What does it mean to be dyslexic for you? Or someone you know? Ask them. As it may help them to fully understand.
Personality wise I shoot straight from the hip in my communications, I have a handful of good friends who have been by my side for years and I’m grateful for them and they understand me. I have also upset a few people along the way due to my directness. A colleague once called me brash, unfortunately, for she/he didn’t understand that I was trying to remember what I needed to ask them to do. Another not-so-great thing about my dyslexia is that passing on instructions can sometimes be difficult.
So, what’s good about being Dyslexic? I consider myself very incisive and I’ve achieved a lot in both education and in my career. I always remain curious, and I challenge myself. I was officially diagnosed at Esher Sixth form college, and I was hugely grateful for my diagnosis. Just being able to understand why I struggled was amazing. Out of the dark someone had switched on the lights. The best thing of all was being taught coping mechanisms and techniques. I worked with a fantastic SEN teacher called Jeanne Holloway. Jeanne has written many books about dyslexia. Her own son was dyslexic and a Cambridge or Oxford graduate. (I cannot recall which one.) I am so very grateful to the tutors I had at Esher and very grateful to Jeanne, who literally turned my life around and helped me rebuild my confidence. My time at Esher Sixth Form was pivotal. The techniques I was taught were life-changing, and I figured out quickly how bright and creative I was. I fixed my sights early on in a career in media. I signed up for some work experience and secured a runner’s position with BBC International at the prestigious Wimbledon Tennis Championships. I bagged this role as I grew up in the London Borough of Merton and I was schooled in Wimbledon Village, so I knew the area very well. A runner that knows the lay of the land is always very advantageous to a broadcaster. I was destined to work in television. From the young age of 17 years, I remember entering a live TV gallery at the championships and seeing people shouting at one another in a high-pressure environment and thinking that I had arrived! Ha (it’s not always like that by the way, not when things are going well anyway) It’s apt that I am writing this I am watching the 2023 championships. Wimbledon was the very start of my broadcast career. I went back every year throughout my studies at college and university and I loved every minute of it. Working with a bunch of international rights holders from all over the world was eye-opening. These are some of my happiest young memories of television, I worked a total of eight consecutive years at the Champs. It was a doozy.
Learning = Diagnosis is great. The earlier the better.
Getting into and securing a place at university was my next great achievement. I spent 3 fantastic years at Sheffield Hallam University. It was here I was shaped as a person. Uni taught me how to write and I was regularly tutored again by the SEN department. I had some fantastic tutors, and again I am hugely grateful to them and how they supported me, it’s hard enough trying to grow and learn away from home whilst finding your feet and independence but also doing this whilst dealing with my dyslexia was, at times, a little stressful but, I always found my way. There is no place quite like Yorkshire, for me, it was a good place to cut my teeth. It was never in question that I would not return home to London, and I did so having secured a 2.1 BA Hons degree. Had you asked me if I would achieve something like that when I was at school, I would have said it wouldn’t have been possible.
Learning – Anything you set your mind to is possible.
Fast-forward some 23 years later and I made television my career, I’ve worked with an array of broadcasters over the years and worked on many events both national and international. I’ve been freelancing in my industry now for the last eight years as an LTD company director. The official title I’ve stuck with is Senior Production and Operations Manager, but I can also be considered as a line producer, Events/ops Manager or Venue Manager. My experience spans sports, news, branded content, branded experiences, corporate, light entertainment and digital. I’ve worked on and continue to work on a variety of events from motorsport to premier league football too, corporate gigs with client Microsoft working with branded clients such as Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut and working on London Fashion Week for high-end fashion client Moncler and more. I work in the studios and live galleries (OB’s) outside broadcasts on-site. I plan and manage these productions, sometimes from scratch, managing large-scale crews. I get to work on some exciting events and meet and work with some great colleagues and talent. I manage all this whilst dealing with the day-to-day dyslexia. I sometimes parachute into productions at the last minute it takes some skill to be able to turn your hand to that.
Learning = I am very grateful.
Whilst I have enjoyed working in TV, I also enjoy being able to help others help themselves. Back in 2019, I decided I wanted to learn something a little more holistic. I signed up to study with the Prestigious Quest Institute at Regents College London. I was on an exploration to learn new skills, fulfil my curiosity and become a practitioner. I signed up for a one-year HPD course in Cognitive Hypnotherapy and NLP. I have since gone on to study my master practitioner taking me beyond therapy and into coaching. My curiosity led me here as I have used therapy throughout my life to help me both personally and professionally. I wanted to stretch myself and learn something different. I now operate my business locally from my hometown and online and my website can be found here www.nataliediamond.co.uk
As well as working with a variety of clients and issues my overall aim is to help those with dyslexia manage low self-esteem and confidence. It’s my way of giving something back. I am very grateful to have been tutored by Trevor Silvester the founder of Quest Institute and I have learnt many techniques and methods. I am extremely thankful for what I have learnt. I have been able to help myself, my friends and my family when needed. In November, I will be giving a talk online for the Helen Arkyll Dyslexia Centre in Farnham Surrey to an audience of teachers and parents, in matters of dyslexia, low self-esteem and confidence. I have written my first blog for The Invisible Gift which is great as it has given me a springboard to share my story with others who may be at the beginning of their journeys.
I hope to write another blog soon in which I will share simple techniques which can help with confidence and low self-esteem. For now, this is a small intro into my world and how I have found myself where I am today through diagnosis, hard work, sheer determination, and tenacity.