Jay Blades health: Repair Shop star felt ‘relief’ after diagnosis

The One Show: Jay Blades jokes about getting emotional

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Far from the comforts of The Repair Shop shed, Jay is taking on the mammoth task of learning to read, something which across the years he has learnt how to cope with and conceal. The new documentary sheds a surprising light on the fact that in the UK, approximately eight million adults have poor literacy skills, and struggle to read and write. For Jay, who was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of 31, his motivation to learn how to read stems from the desire to read a bedtime story to his now 15-year-old daughter for the first time in her life.

Speaking on The One Show yesterday, Jay explained the various ways in which he has been able to cope with not being able to read while landing a job in TV.

He told presenters Lauren Laverne and Jermaine Jenas: “I have used a lot of the coping strategies, especially when trying to get a job and filling out applications.

“I always said I haven’t got my glasses, but I didn’t even wear glasses back then, so I would take it away and get someone else to fill it in.

“Once I got a letter from a doctor and I had to go out into the street and ask someone what it said because I couldn’t read it. It was quite strange… but you find loads of coping strategies.”

The star went on to explain that those who work behind the scenes on The Repair Shop have adapted in order to accommodate for Jay.

“They don’t give me anything to read,” Jay explained.

“They just tell me. About five minutes before someone comes in, I learn their names and roughly what they are bringing in.”

Brought up by his single mother on a Hackney council estate, Jay left school at 15 with no qualifications and nothing to his name – except a reputation as a great fighter.

Unbeknown to him that he was dyslexic, it wasn’t until the star “blagged a spot” at a university course that he was finally given the diagnosis, after he was told he had the reading age of 11.

“It was a relief,” he confided to The Mirror in a recent interview.

“But it was also really nice to see that there was help out there.”

In fact, discovering truths about his own learning difficulties has made Jay realise that the problem is much bigger than he once thought.

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The Mirror reports that as a result of the pandemic, the average pupil is behind by two months and for those on free school meals it is nearer to seven months.

In light of these disturbing statistics, Jay hopes that his newest documentary will help to inspire others who may be struggling.

He added: “No matter where you are in life, no matter what you think you can’t achieve, there are people ready to support you – and it can take you places that you could never imagine.”

The Mayo Clinic explains that dyslexia is a learning disorder that involves difficulty reading. Individuals may find it hard to identify speech sounds and how they relate to letters and words.

Noticing the signs of dyslexia can be difficult, but the NHS estimates that up to one in every 10 people in the UK has some degree of dyslexia.

A person with dyslexia may:

  • Read and write very slowly
  • Confuse the order of letters in words
  • Put letters the wrong way round (such as writing “b” instead of “d”)
  • Have poor or inconsistent spelling
  • Understand information when told verbally, but have difficulty with information that’s written down
  • Find it hard to carry out a sequence of directions
  • Struggle with planning and organisation.

For those in and out of school, there is tons of support to help with their dyslexia. While a child is still in school, they may benefit from the guidance of a one-to-one teacher, or using technology like computers and speech recognition software that make it easier for your child to read and write.

Jay confessed to using coloured overlays in order to help with words, but this is not seen as an effective long-term treatment. Employers are required to make reasonable adjustments to the workplace to help people with dyslexia, such as allowing extra time for certain tasks.

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