James Martin health: TV chef on ‘nightmare’ condition he didn’t know about until age 30

James Martin says he gets ‘words mixed-up’ due to dyslexia

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Today, James Martin is a natural on camera, serving up delicious dishes while holding enjoyable conversations simultaneously. But his journey to top TV chef hasn’t been plain sailing. Speaking to fellow TV chef Ainsley Harriot on his show, Martin revealed that he failed cookery in school: “The only exam I passed at school was art. I mainly failed it [cookery] because I’m severely dyslexic.”

Around 6.3million people, which is nearly 10% of the UK population, have dyslexia, according to Government figures.

One of the primary symptoms of dyslexia is difficulty reading, which includes reading out loud.

Talking recently about this symptom with fellow dyslexic Molly King from the Saturday’s, Martin described the condition as an “absolute nightmare”.

The condition, he suggested, initially affected his television work.

He said: “I know a big passion of yours is this dyslexia foundation, which I wanted to pick up on because it’s something that’s close to my heart, because I’m dyslexic as well – severely dyslexic.

“I didn’t know about mine until I was 30 years old, when I started in television to read the autocue on television. For me it’s an absolute nightmare to read that.”

However, thanks to the support of a lady working at the BBC, he was given the support he needed to overcome the difficulties in his workplace.

“She turned around and said, ‘You’ve got to walk and talk at the same time,’ and sent me away for a little lesson on how to do it,” Martin said.

“You need somebody like that to give you the confidence, don’t you really?”, he added.

Left unsupported, dyslexics may suffer from low self-esteem, behavioural problems, anxiety, aggression, and withdrawal from friendships, family and teachers, suggests the Mayo Clinic.

In many cases, untreated childhood dyspraxia can lead to problems in adulthood.

“The inability to read and comprehend can prevent a child from reaching his or her potential as the child grows up,” states the Mayo Clinic.

“This can have long-term educational, social and economic consequences,” the organisation added.

Other symptoms of dyslexia, according to the NHS, include:

  • Difficulty reading
  • Spelling issues
  • Slow reading and/or writing
  • Avoidance of reading activities
  • Mispronouncing names or words or problems retrieving the right word
  • Difficulty summarising stories
  • Difficulty memorising
  • Difficulty with maths problems

Dyslexia is a lifelong condition and there is plenty of support for children and adults with the condition.

For children, these may involve educational interventions, such as teaching in small groups or learning support.

Alternatively, if you are diagnosed with dyslexia, your specialist may encourage the use of technology.

This may include text to speech devices, word processes or electronic organisers to help with writing and daily activities.

Moreover, your employer is required by law to provide reasonable adjustments to the workplace.

  • The NHS website lists a few examples of adjustments:
  • providing you with assistance technology, such as digital recorders or speech-to-text software
  • giving you instructions verbally, rather than in writing
  • allowing you extra time for tasks you find particularly difficult
  • providing you with information in formats you find accessible

The British Dyslexia Association offers information about how to undergo a dyslexia assessment.

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