Britain Harnessing Dyslexic, Dyspraxic Neurodiversity in Spying

Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (CGHQ) has hired 120 dyslexic and dyspraxic intelligence officers to handle global terrorism and foreign espionage.

A CGHQ official told The Sunday Times that “neuro-diverse” individuals bring “additional value to the full spectrum of roles and jobs across the department.”

Many dyslexic individuals show difficulty with reading, writing or comprehending text, but often have an increased ability for isolating facts within complex patterns or events.  About 10% of the UK population are dyslexic, and 5% of UK children are dyspraxic, affecting coordination.

The ability for dyslexic individuals to break codes can be seen in the case of Alan Turing, a dyslexic British cryptanalyst during World War II.  It was Turing that broke the Nazi’s top-secret Enigma code.

A new film starring Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game, takes a closer look at Turing’s important role in the war.

The chairman for the CGHQ’s dyslexic and dyspraxic support community, recently told The Sunday Times that these individuals can possess a “spiky-skills profile,” meaning that “certain skill areas will be below par and others may be well above.”

“My reading might be slower than some individuals and maybe my spelling is appalling, and my handwriting definitely is… but if you look at the positive side, my 3D spacial-perception awareness and creativity is in the top 1 percent of my peer group.”

The spy base is currently attempting to modernize its recruitment process through encouragement of students at 20 primary and secondary schools to taking science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses (STEM).

A report from The Daily Mail in 2012 discussed a plan from the GCHQ to recruit over 100 school-leavers by offering a “degree in spying.”  Officials said they were looking to tap into the “Xbox generation” who grew up with the internet, social media and interactive gaming.

GCHQ currently employs 5,300 individuals.  1/3 of its staff is currently working to combat terrorism residing in the Middle East, with the most current threat coming from the Islamic State (ISIS).

Officials for GCHQ also report a main concern for the spy base to be “combating cybercriminals, state-led cyber espionage and political activists known as ‘hactivists’.”

Kevin, 60, a senior advisor to Whitehall officials in cyberintelligence, said foreign countries regularly attempted to spy “not only against Government but also on commercially sensitive information”.

Whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked information last year concerning the extent of the role of the GCHQ with America’s National Security Agency and the monitoring of global electronic communications.

GCHQ, located in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, is split into two sections.  The first deals with national security and cyberthreats, while the other offers support to the military, police, M15 and M16.

A GCHQ spokesman told MailOnline today: ‘As a technical organisation GCHQ have some exceptionally bright people working here and a higher than average proportion of staff with dyslexia.

‘We recognise the innovative approaches and additional value neuro-diverse individuals can bring to the full spectrum of roles and jobs across the department.’