Jamie Oliver's beautiful message for any child with dyslexia.

Jamie Oliver is, by anyone’s standards, a massive success. As part of his worldwide food empire, he’s published 20 books, with sales of around $250 million. But at school he was classified “special needs” because of his dyslexia. He didn’t read a novel till he was 38.

Now, Oliver has told Radio Times that his dyslexia is the secret of his business success.

“I genuinely think that when someone says to you, ‘Johnny’s got dyslexia,’ you should get down on your knees, shake the child’s hand and say, ‘Well done, you lucky, lucky boy,’” he says.

“If I’m in a meeting I just see the problems different and I obsess about things differently. Some bits of work need to be sweated over and cried over and crafted.

“Because I’m dyslexic, sometimes, when it requires a load of stuff to be done, I just do it. It’s like I’m a massive, 10-tonne boulder rolling down the hill.”

The president of the Australian Dyslexia Association, Jodi Clements, agrees that dyslexia does give people a unique perspective.

“I think, due to traditional classroom teaching being a challenge, they have had to find alternate paths to their learning,” she tells Mamamia.

Clements believes dyslexia and adversity go hand in hand.

Jamie Oliver Dyslexia
"Some bits of work need to be sweated over and cried over and crafted." (Image: Getty)

“School is hard. School can have major negative effects on children with dyslexia. In many cases, children with dyslexia learn to be strong. Just turning up to school each day is a triumph for many.

“I have worked with many children, as young as six years old, who have a high sense of social justice and incredible empathy for others from feeling unsupported in the traditional schooling system. Perhaps it is this adversity that they are met with at school that somewhat prepares them for great things later in life.”

She says a lot of adults with dyslexia who have gone on to be successful have put it down to their dyslexia, just like Jamie.

“Such adults provide great positive role models for individuals with dyslexia and give them hope for their futures,” she adds.

People who struggled with reading but have gone on to achieve great things include actors Orlando Bloom and George Clooney, businessmen Richard Branson and Kerry Packer, and solo sailor Jessica Watson.

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Clements says many children who have dyslexia need supportive adults in their lives to feel their inner strengths and talents.

“I think they make up for their literacy challenges in other areas when their strengths are cultivated and their weaknesses minimised,” she says.

“When they find these strengths, yes, they do feel incredibly lucky!”

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