back to article Dyslexic, dyspraxic? No probs, says GCHQ

The British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) says it employs 120 dyslexic and dyspraxic staff for code breaking and counter-espionage. Chairman of the dyslexic and dyspraxic committee, known just as Matt, said the neuro-diverse staff had "spiky skills" where they may excel in analytical areas at expense of others …

  1. Hans 1
    Joke

    Definitely very creative, in every sense of the word, but what happens when they have to write a report ? hu z da pur sul hu willl haf too red and undastand it ?

    Note: I have a dyspraxic in my household, so first-hand experience. The incredible thing is that they excel at what they like doing, the guy here has photographic memory of an astonishing precision. You show him a table full of cups, take him out of the room, turn one cup only slightly (in the middle somewhere), let him back in and he will point to the right cup immediately. His spelling has improved incredibly because carrot tactics work like a charm.

    1. VeNT

      well

      Just because you're dyslexic does not mean you can't spell anything... It just means you will make mistakes.

      Being dyslexic myself I find spelling difficult and sometimes even Google doesn't know what I mean. But I get by.

      1. Hans 1
        Angel

        Re: well

        Notice the joke icon ;-) and as I wrote underneath I have a dyspraxia case in my household. Yes, the spelling thingy was aimed at the dyslexics, and I know, those are not the types of spelling mistakes they make, it is more inverting letters or syllables, for example. It was meant as a joke.

        1. Danny 14

          Re: well

          oh yeah a joke, 'cause dyslexics all love having the piss taken out of them. We have an apprentice who is on the autism spectrum, he is brilliant at code debugging and spotting patterns. Problem is, once you give him a task he *must* solve it, that's his downfall and he knows it. His brain works much faster than all of us in the office when it comes to problem solving though so he is perfectly suited to debugging though re-tasking him is an issue.

          Stands to reason to use specialists minds for specialist tasks.

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: well I blame the management.

            Classic example from the wiki definition of dyspraxia-

            "Many dyspraxics benefit from working in a structured environment, as repeating the same routine minimises difficulty with time-management and allows them to commit procedures to long-term memory."

            Alternatively, a management that understands the issues could create an environment structured to maximise performance of the individual, and minimises the stress. Which is what GCHQ appear to be doing by recognising they can get exceptionally skilled individuals. They're not alone in doing this, but it does take a bit more effort from management to understand and support them.

    2. jerkyflexoff

      Re: "Leaks"

      Prick, I wold smack you in the face if you were in front of me. You would have a lot more respect, if you knew how hard dyslexia is. I have spikey skills mate ivalue them much more than reading an writing.look at him he cant read real good, oh but he is one of the best inventors on the planet.

  2. EddieD

    Alas...

    I'm dyspraxic, but my analytic skills can normally be beaten by an average piece of camembert...and my spatial perception is horrific.

    We're not all idiots-savantes, some of us are just idiots...

    It's good to see that GCHQ are willing to look beyond the surface though.

    1. Hans 1

      Re: Alas...

      The thing is, we are all good at something, to some extent, some better than others. The case we have over here had horrific spatial perception, but 12 sessions with a specialist and he is now in the top 10% in geometry (of his class, in grades). He used to be useless at geometry.

      The thing I found that worked with dyspraxia is motivation and reward (carrot tactics).

      The school ordered a laptop for him because he could not write down everything as quickly as the others in his class, and his handwriting was cryptic. His mum always used to fight him into doing his homework, arguments and arguments to write down 15 words (15 words took hours, literally).

      I showed him the game console, and said "You wanna play ? Last week you spent hours arguing with your mum instead of doing your homework and playing your games. Now, write those words down properly (so even I can read them) and play until dinner time or argue with your mum until dinner time, your call" Worked like a charm. Not only can I read his handwriting now (it improved substantially), he is even taking notes properly in class (still has a lady helping him out, though).

    2. i like crisps
      Big Brother

      Re: Alas...

      So now they've taken to corrupting the disabled for their dastardly schemes.......a new low?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Alas...

        So now they've taken to corrupting the disabled for their dastardly schemes.......a new low?

        (I'm going to skip over your misapplied "disabled" label for a moment, less germane to the debate)

        What would you prefer then? Stick them in a home somewhere? I rather see people have an income and be respected for their skills instead of being given a label - and that goes all the way across the spectrum from disabled in whatever form to gender and race labelling and even ADD.

        I personally sit on the cusp of Aspergers, and my "talent" is that I can very quickly see connections between seemingly disjointed events and identify the structure behind them (and the fractures therein). I say "talent" in quotes because I cannot disable it - the analytics in my head don't have an off switch and it can get in the way when discussing things with people who think that being less emotional means you have no emotions at all - little do they know that their facial micro-expressions and body language tell me everything about the delta between what they say and what they think.

        I too have this Rottweiler ability to sink my teeth into a problem and not let go until I've solved it. In my business, that's seen as a good thing. For a social life, not so much.

  3. Mog_X
    Black Helicopters

    3D spacial-perception awareness?

    Is that a requirement for squeezing yourself into a holdall and doing up the zip? Do they 'assist' you if you can't do it yourself?

    1. phil dude
      Megaphone

      Re: 3D spacial-perception awareness?

      Thank you for dredging that one up. It has been sort of "forgotten in plain sight".

      Those could be words stenciled across the entrance to parliament...

      P.

  4. Ross K
    Facepalm

    Duh

    "What people don't realise is that people with neuro diversity usually have a 'spikyskills' profile, which means that certain skill areas will be below par and others may be well above," he told The Sunday Times.

    What a load of shit.

    Everybody on the planet has a 'spikyskills' profile - things they're good at *and* things they're bad at - not just the "neuro diverse".

    1. James 51

      Re: Duh

      Yea but most people will be at the centre of the curve, neuro diverse are probably more towards the edges.

      1. Ross K

        Re: Duh

        Yea but most people will be at the centre of the curve, neuro diverse are probably more towards the edges.

        That's the most ridiculous thing I've heard this month. Well done.

        Of all the things you do every day, there are thing you are excellent at doing, things you are ok at doing, things you are shockingly bad at doing... You get the idea? You can't say most people will be at the "centre of the curve" with any certainty.

        1. JDX Gold badge

          Re: That's the most ridiculous thing I've heard this month. Well done.

          Ross it's pretty much empirically measured fact, not some airy-fairy notion you can dismiss because it doesn't agree with your pre-conceived notions. You know, statistics and stuff. Disagreeing with it doesn't change anything.

          1. Ross K

            Re: That's the most ridiculous thing I've heard this month. Well done.

            it's pretty much empirically measured fact,

            What's empirically measured fact?

            That "most people will be at the centre of the curve" as James 51 says?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: That's the most ridiculous thing I've heard this month. Well done.

              "What's empirically measured fact?"

              That you're spouting off rubbish like a complete tit?

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: That's the most ridiculous thing I've heard this month. Well done.

              Sigh. Ever heard of a thing called a "search engine"?

              Here is everything you want to know:

              http://www.autism.org.uk/about-autism/myths-facts-and-statistics.aspx

              It's comments like yours that pretty accurately describe the problem out there. As for being off side of the bell curve, my IQ ranks according to British Mensa in the top 1% of the country but it doesn't help much in social environments - there is a price to pay for being an outlier.

          2. Teiwaz

            Re: That's the most ridiculous thing I've heard this month. Well done.

            Just ignore it, maybe it'll go away...

            And don't believe in things, it only encourages them.

    2. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Duh

      Most people are not in the bottom 1% in some areas and the top 1% in others. This extreme spread is characteristic of conditions such as dyslexia.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon

        Re: Duh

        It doesn't apply to everyone with mental disorders, but if it does it tends to be significant.

        I work in a complex field, and there are things I can do without much thought that others have a struggle to do at all (I have severe ADHD-combined).

        On the other hand, there are things I am really bad at.

        Like now for instance. I have to create a complex design in a complex environment based on vague requirements within a very short time-scale. Most people would just 'knock something together' and blame the lack of requirements if it goes pear-shaped later.

        I can't do that, I *have* to do the best job I can, I can't put my name to something that I don't think will work - and if I don't know enough yet to know whether it will or not, then I have to spend the time learning. This slows me down *a lot*. I have a hard time thinking of things to put into the design if it isn't based on hard information.

        It causes a lot of stress.

        The hardest thing is the train-track thought processes. Like someone has mentioned - it *is* possible to change them, but only with the proper motivation and context. At all other times changing your mind mid-stride is the equivalent of de-railing a freight train. It takes time for the wreck to stop before you can even think about picking up the pieces :(

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Duh

          I work in a complex field, and there are things I can do without much thought that others have a struggle to do at all (I have severe ADHD-combined).

          I so recognise this. I bet you model most of what you do in your head like I do, then copy it down in some form that others can work with it.

          I have to create a complex design in a complex environment based on vague requirements within a very short time-scale. Most people would just 'knock something together' and blame the lack of requirements if it goes pear-shaped later.

          I can't do that, I *have* to do the best job I can, I can't put my name to something that I don't think will work - and if I don't know enough yet to know whether it will or not, then I have to spend the time learning. This slows me down *a lot*. I have a hard time thinking of things to put into the design if it isn't based on hard information.

          Been there. Think "calculate the cost to convert to IPv6" at a time there was no solid data yet on the actual network impact, the cost of router upgrades, impact on firewalls and security policies, operating systems, software, DNS (the list goes on, but all I got was "IPv6"). Oh, and this for a company in a size similar to those that own a whole Class A IP address space. Argh. I know people who'd just bollocks up something but that's the one thing I cannot, because I stand for what I state and write.

  5. i like crisps
    Big Brother

    So does that mean that....

    ...GCHQ is an 'Equal Opportunities' employer? Reminds me a bit of that Bruce Willis film Mercury.....something?

  6. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Winston Churchill...

    .. on seeing the people working at Bletchley Park was heard to say "When I told you to leave no stone unturned to get the people you need, I didn't expect you to take me so literally".

    Of course Winston was less than polite about women, the Welsh, Kurds and many other groups... his views aren't mine, but he was a witty bastard.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/francis-maude-speech-at-cyber-security-challenge-masterclass

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I would love to work for GCHQ...

    ... I'm neuro-normal. But hey, you've got to have normal as part of your diverse spectrum, no?

    Anyway, the last time I looked at the published salaries, they're having a laugh. I'd do 1.5, maybe 2 days a week for that, if I were feeling patriotic.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ... I'm neuro-normal. But hey, you've got to have normal as part of your diverse spectrum, no?

    Correct. You probably have a normal social life.

    Anyway, the last time I looked at the published salaries, they're having a laugh. I'd do 1.5, maybe 2 days a week for that, if I were feeling patriotic.

    You're lucky. For some, it's the choice between sitting at home or doing something for which they get at least a respect for their abilities.

    1. John H Woods

      AC: "You're lucky."

      Ah, I came across wrong then (possibly the reason I got thumbed-down). When I said the salaries were too low, I meant that - for the abilities they appear to require - they are underpaying. I'm probably not even good enough to work there (what I said about neuro-normal also means I'm no genius). But I am in no way disparaging the neuro-diverse, I'm just against them being exploited.

  9. streaky

    GCHQ Recruitment

    I'm sure GCHQ love employing people with all kinds of development disorders, spectrum disorders and outright psychopathy if they they can wring a bit of spy out of them.

    Problem is here is they're probably hiring a lot of people who don't understand the ethical dilemmas of the work they're doing. Happily pumping out code to spy on normal people when the terrorists and state actors they're supposed to be going after merrily get on with whatever they're doing.

    Most people involved in tech would *love* a job at GCHQ et al in an ideal world - but it aint an ideal world and until there's proper civilian oversight of the work they do by competent persons many of us can't imagine even considering working for them, which is probably why they're so eager to do outreach.

  10. phuzz Silver badge

    They breed 'em

    My mum used to work with kids with special needs in Gloucestershire, and she dealt with a lot of kids on the autistic spectrum in Cheltenham who had parents who wouldn't say any more about their jobs than 'civil servant'.

    Having a lot of friends who's parents worked there as well, I think they've always been quite happy to hire the non-neuro typical.

    And as a dyslexic who has no problem reading, I'd say it's not any kind of handicap for me as long as I have a computer to do the spelling and handwriting for me.

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. Al fazed Bronze badge
    Flame

    Oi! C*NT !

    Giz a f*ckin' job. But not on that shit pay scale you GCHQ twat.

    ALF

  13. Colderp

    Attention: SPYS WANTED! Must know how to count to potatoe.

    Col. Derp.

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