Jack Milne advises the Vice-Chairperson for inclusion and engagement on issues of disability and today for Dyslexia Awareness week we felt it would be appropriate to share his story.
G’day, I am Jack Milne, 26 years old from Victoria, Australia and I am living in the United Kingdom after completing a Masters Degree in Business Analysis and Strategic Management at the Alliance Manchester Business School, the University of Manchester.
A brief background about me, I am the middle child of a family of five children. With a fantastic and supportive dad who always wants happiness in anything that I strive for. Whereas my mum, likewise to my dad had all these qualities. However passed away when I was only 12. With an addition to my step-dad, whose remarried-both continue to play a role in my life, with two children of his new wife, and a child of their own. Being in a large and diverse family setting, somewhat common with many families. I have had to create my own destiny.
After being diagnosed with Dyspraxia at an early age, this created a circumstance where it has shifted similar to a roller coaster ride. The highs and the lows, the speed of everything happening at once. An early memory was being told to switch from writing left handed to my current right hand. On other occasions, I would need to speak out loud and correct myself with the pronunciation of words when I had spoke. My hand eye coordination suffered and suffered, when I had to repeat hour after hour, my cricketing ability or playing the recorder. These challenges tested me emotionally and a sense of stress of why am I different to everyone, an anger and frustrations of undertaking a simple maths equation. Why am I like this? There were times, many times I became embarrassed and isolated, people would laugh at me. This would hurt my self esteem. However on the flip side, there were lights at the end of a tunnel. I needed a shovel to dig myself out of this dirt, though my life wasn’t messy. In primary school, had held leadership roles,contributed to the football, (soccer) team and was engaged and participating in the school musicals. I inspired others with the dealings I had with Dyspraxia. It was great to be in a position, where I was admired,not for my disability but my ability to bring others together. This trait is what I continue to held closely to me everyday.
Though in my final year of primary school, my mum died and I had suffered heavily, almost a drop of rain coming down from the skies,a bolt of lighting that crashed into the ground. My life had taken a shock and not only me, but impacted the rest of my family. This experienced caused me to get depressed and I would often distance myself from others. Despite the leading encouragement of close ones to try and remain happy whether it’s via football or school productions. I was once a confident public speaker, however this mood had declined. For this, I lost appetite and have the awareness to self improve myself. I was upset that I was a disappointing myself in how I was performing in secondary school, grades were lowering, misinterpreting basic questions which I had no answer for. I felt worthless. Who am I? I am a clown, I wanted affection as I searched attention from others and wanted to be someone, a friend and someone that felt loved. I was lost and despair. Pounds of pressure I was putting on myself, literally not weight but the anxiety in my mind. I still kept in my mind that there was a crack in everything that I did, in which only the light gets in. Referencing to Leonard Cohen and that I would never walk alone. Secondary School, in many ways was hell, however I remained to my first goal of getting an education and hopefully attend a leading University,particularly the University of Manchester. Having completed the Dukes of Edinburgh’s award in the middle years of my secondary school. I was advised to undertake these actions and continue on making an influence. The college gave me a Scholarship and to partake in ToastMasters, to regain my confidence in public speaking. Key staff saw faith in me. In the spite of this, I was at the early stages of self diagnosing myself with Dyslexia. In the past, I would spell my older sister’s name wrong, or read the wrong question. Really basic and fundamental mistakes that continued to persist. Nevertheless,my fire was slowly burning and my motivation was returning to full health, as in Super Mario, a cult figure in my childhood.
From my early years in University to leaving in South Africa, I dropped my involvement in sport and engaging in the performance arts. To therefore, to get myself influencing the people around me and use the actions and values that I developed through the Duke of Edinburgh’s award, started volunteering for local charities, joining the local council, working extensively long hours, sometimes very early in the morning. I had to separate myself. This created an isolation and over ambition, which I excluded myself from my closest friends, despite still having struggles with my University. However I had the opportunity to do research projects in China and work on initiatives in India. I was becoming more of a global citizen and a leader in my community.
This set up the challenge to travel to South Africa, which I volunteered for a couple months for a charity and via mutual agreement, I left the organisastion. This took me a low and hatred, shame in myself. Who am I? If a tree crashes in a forest, whose there to hear it, if nobody is there? That is how I had felt.
Upon my return to Australia, I met up with my two closest friends (most meaningful and truthful friends) that I have today. They suggested, that I come along to a festival with them in the upcoming weekend. Which, by then I had already stopped drinking for five years, I agreed. That weekend came by, I spoke to someone, (a friend that I am so thankful for today) and after chatting it was on the decision to do something about it. The following weekend,I go to Church with this individual. An empowering choice, since the next Sunday was Mother’s Day. A gift to my mum, which her and I already shared this close bond when she was alive. Among our interest in our football club.
After a couple of Sundays, speaking to this specific friend, I told this individual that I would get tested for Dyslexia. A hope that it’d give me peace and clarity on the sufferings that I had with my learning processing and give me peace that excellence can be achieved and no disappointment in myself. This friend told me that mum would be proud for taking this step,an unknown to what my mum would have wanted to know and my friend knew of my mum-made this process easier.
It was the 11 year anniversary of my mum’s anniversary, it was brave and a courageous moment for me to take the frighting foot forward to a known and recognised future that I wanted to achieve. Not fighting against having Dyslexia and Dyspraxia, but appreciating of who I am, but it’ll be a light burden, that will be a spark to future generations. In which empowered to take further involvement with young people with disabilities, since I am an advisor for the Commonwealth Youth Council for the Engagement an Inclusion. Where we all have chapters,words,steps to embark on together and I can bring this common purpose forward to bring an inclusive change.
I am a long way of becoming a public civil services minister (prefer a foreign public diplomat)/or a corporate social responsibility consultant and bringing social impact to multi national companies and institutions. This is my journey, and I will get there. Not today, but will tomorrow.
Therefore to conclude, that David Livingstone once quoted that ” Sympathy is not a substitute for action”, citing this famous line is a resemble of my life and how I have to deal with Dyslexia and Dyspraxia in my life. This had led my life to be built on action and making a wider contribution to the community and society. I am excited for the journey ahead, the bumpy ride and embark on challenges and opportunities that is laid ahead and continue making decisions that create a positive impact.
(Editor’s Note: Dyspraxia is defined as a developmental disorder of the brain in childhood causing difficulty in activities requiring coordination and movement.
Dyslexia is defined as a “specific learning difficulty”, which means it causes problems with certain abilities used for learning, such as reading and writing. Unlike a learning disability, intelligence isn’t affected as stated by: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Dyslexia/Pages/Introduction.aspx )