Primary and Secondary School
At school, as a young child, I struggled with writing. Some teachers called me lazy and blamed this partly on me being left-handed. (Back in the 80s I felt like being left-handed was a sin) Firstly, I remember becoming frustrated at school, as I would have lots of ideas in my head, but verbally could not find the right words to explain them.
I would daydream a lot but would listen to parts of what the teachers were saying. I would just be thinking about the snippets of information I got from a lesson and then conjure up ideas from this.
I loathed reading and dreaded reading in front of my peers.
As the English teacher would go around the class, choosing pupils to read aloud, I would be thinking please not me. When it was my time to read, I remember that I would frequently skip sentences in the book, occasionally stuttered or blended two words.
I used a ruler to keep my place in a book. Hearing my peers’ snigger at my reading knocked my confidence.
Despite my struggles with reading at school, I managed to get a grade C in both GCSE English and English Literature.
After completing my A levels, I entertained the idea of going to university. However,
I nearly discouraged myself from applying to university as I knew that at some point in the course, I would have to do presentations. I was not confident with public speaking. Nevertheless, I did not want what I perceived at the time as a flaw to stop me from progressing.
At university, I found it extremely hard to copy work from the board. There was so much information to write down! I had to engage in public speaking. I wanted to get my first presentation at university over and done with, so I rushed through it.
My main concern with public speaking was the risk of stammering with my words, and that everyone would be staring at me. When I did get lost with my words, I would disguise this by making a joke, diverting the attention away from the fact that I had messed up.
I decided to have a meeting with a support advisor from my university’s learning support department. I discussed my learning difficulties. After being referred, I completed a dyslexia assessment. As far as I can remember, I did have to pay for the assessment.
The results came back, which concluded that I was dyslexic. It was explained to me that I had developed coping strategies throughout my previous years. From then on, I was allowed extra time, and the use of a computer for my exams. My lecturers e-mailed me copy of text so that I could go over them in my own time.
A Creative Mind
Only as an adult, I was able to realise the benefit of seeing my strengths through my struggles.
Two of the A-Levels that I chose to complete were Art and Design and Design Technology. Both creative subjects.
For my university course, the modules that I received my A grades in needed skills such as creativity, problem-solving and visual thinking. I thrived in product development, marketing, and design in the working environment.
I had learnt through my childhood at school, to be self-sufficient. (Not as an option but as survival to progress) I used a highlighter pen to highlight keywords to help me with reading comprehension. Furthermore, I also bullet point keywords or phrases.
Likewise, I would sing or hum while reading to myself. Additionally, I would do this to find a rhythm/sequence to what I was reading.
I would repeat the same word over and over to myself to slow down my thoughts so that I could improve pronouncing certain words. I still use these strategies to date.
My parents helped me. My dad would come home from work and sit down, and I would practice reading to him.
Dyslexia does not disappear as an adult. Even now, I occasionally mix up my letter sequence while writing or miss a letter off the end of a word.
As I was typing up this post, I mixed up the letters:
Mixing up the letters has been highlighted by a software program, so I can quickly correct this.
My son currently does not have a dyslexia diagnosis; however, he definitely shows signs. An educational psychologist highlighted this years ago (2016) and said it was highly likely from the tests he completed with her and from my assessment results at university.
He has difficulty differentiating words that sound the same (homophones) This confuses him. He also struggles with spelling. For years now, I have colour coded the syllables in words for him.
There are several software programs for dyslexia to assist with learning. My son currently uses the Nessy program at school, which is animated and helps him with his spellings and reading.
For reading, my son uses a transparent reading ruler:
Fast forward to today, as a parent who has to fill out numerous amounts of forms and read extensive amounts of documents, I do pretty well for myself. I’ll add something more by saying I am proud of myself for the body of work that I have produced as a content writer, where my creativity shines through.
This is not my flaw but my power.