Jamie Oliver health: Chef reveals how cooking ‘saved’ him from his disorder – what is it?

Jamie Oliver health: Chef reveals how cooking ‘saved’ him from his disorder – what is it?

Jamie Oliver, 44, shook up the stuffy format of TV cookery programmes back in 1999, when his BBC show The Naked Chef debuted. His legacy now includes a best-selling cooking book range, influential food campaigns and a restaurant chain. On the surface it seems like no obstacle is too great for the TV chef but in a candid interview, Jamie revealed he has faced challenges because of his dyslexia.

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Speaking to vlogger and CBBC star Nikki Lily, Jamie said: “I did really badly at school with dyslexia, and to be honest I still struggle with it a bit today. I’ve had to learn little skills to get away with it.

“I only read two narrative books and that was a struggle. But luckily I had cooking – and that saved me. Every kid just wants a pat on the back, and a well done.

“I came out of school with an A in Art and a C in Geology, and everything else was pretty much ungraded.”

In light of his bestselling cookery book range, however, the TV chef feels his trajectory can serve as inspiration for kids who are going through what he went through.

It’s estimated up to one in every 10 people in the UK has some degree of dyslexia.

According to the NHS, dyslexia is a lifelong problem that can present challenges on a daily basis, but support is available to improve reading and writing skills and help those with the problem be successful at school and work.

It is important to recognise the symptoms, which usually reveal themselves when a child starts school and begins to focus more on learning how to read and write, notes the health site.

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

But, as the NHS points out, people with dyslexia often have good skills in other areas, such as creative thinking and problem solving.

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How to treat dyslexia

As Mayo Clinic explains, there’s no known way to correct the underlying brain abnormality that causes dyslexia — dyslexia is a lifelong problem.

However, early detection and evaluation to determine specific needs and appropriate treatment can improve success.

The type and extent of intervention needed will depend on the severity of your child’s difficulties.

As the NHS explains, there are a number of educational interventions and programmes available for children with dyslexia.

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“These can range from regular teaching in small groups with a learning support assistant who delivers work set by teaching staff, to 1-to-1 lessons with a specialist teacher,” noted the health body.

Most interventions focus on phonological skills, which is the ability to identify and process word sounds – these interventions are often referred to as phonics.

Much of the advice and techniques used to help children with dyslexia are also relevant for adults, such as technological interventions, notes the NHS.

“Making use of technology, such as word processors and electronic organisers, can help with your writing and organising daily activities,” said the health body.

The workplace environment must also be adapted to support your dyslexia, as the NHS explained: If you’re in work, let your employer know that you have dyslexia, as they’re required by law to make reasonable adjustments to the workplace to assist you.”

Examples of reasonable adjustments may include:

  • 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

As Mayo Clinic points out, dyslexia may present academic challenges but with the right resources, you can be hugely successful.

Many people with dyslexia are creative and bright, and may be gifted in math, science or the arts. Some even have successful writing careers,” said the health site.

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