When I was a child I struggled with reading. Standing at the teachers desk in primary school and reading out loud was my worst nightmare. I was terrible at it. So much so that my parents would make me practice my reading out loud to them in the evenings. I’m still bad at it now, but at least I know why.
I am dyslexic.
My dyslexia was completely missed at school, even when my dad brought the subject up with one of my teachers I was dismissed as just being “too slow.” So he never raised the subject again. I was a slow child. It would take me a longer than everyone else to process information and understand what I was being told to do. When I was asked a question in class my mind would draw a complete blank even if I had been listening and knew the answer, i just couldn’t seem to bring the answer to the front of my mind. It got worse during exam time, I noticed I had to start revising much earlier than everyone else and when I was sitting in the exam I could never write fast enough, the panic of answering a question under exam conditions would be enough to bring my brain to a grinding halt. Despite this, I still did well in my GSCE’s and A levels with mostly B’s and a few C’s. (I guess they would be 5’s and 6’s these days.)
It wasn’t until I went to university that I decided to do something about it. In my welcome lecture the tutors mentioned that there was a support team we could go and see if we were or thought we might be dyslexic. I thought, why not? The support team were very kind, but when I told them my exam results they instantly said that I couldn’t be dyslexic. But when we discussed my reading and writing, they agreed to let me take a short test.
They gave me a topic and asked me to write as much as could as fast as I could in one minute. When they read it back afterwards they determined that I had a writing speed of a 14 year old. I had just turned 21 and my writing speed was pre GCSE, I was gutted. So, I took the official tests and got a diagnosis. Dyslexic.
These days I still battle with my mind. When I know I have read one thing and my mind wants to copy it down as something else I have to be extra careful. I still get letters back to front and I am still slow at reading and writing, but self awareness seems to have helped. Knowing I am dyslexic means I can spot the signs, it means I can correct myself when I’m writing words in the wrong order. I can spot when my brain is being extra slow and I know I have to get extra help and clarification. I fight against it all the time, but I win most of the time.
Here are a few facts about dyslexia (taken from The Dyslexia Association’s official site https://www.dyslexia.uk.net/what-is-dyslexia)
- Many people who have dyslexia have strong visual, creative and problem solving skills.
- Dyslexia is not linked to intelligence but can make learning difficult.
- Dyslexia is a life-long condition which has a substantial effect on an individual’s day to day activities and is classed as a disability under the Equality Act 2010.
- Dyslexia varies from person to person and no two people will have the same set of strengths and weaknesses.
- It often co-occurs with related conditions, such as dyspraxia, dyscalculia and attention deficit disorder.
- Dyslexic individuals often have difficulty processing and remembering information.
The Dyslexia Association offer a free confidential helpline for advice visit https://www.dyslexia.uk.net/services/