I was sat in a small pokey office in uni at the age of 20.. My brain was feeling good, I was pretty sure I had managed to cure myself of dyslexia but the thought of a free laptop, was too good to miss, so I had decided to take the dyslexia assessment just incase. (At the time a free laptop was part of the support if you had dyslexia). I had already taken a test when I was about 10 but apparently that didn't count any more so I had to do the dreaded thing again. I say dreaded as being sat there for an intense couple of hours questioning everything your doing, knowing your being watched and assessed as you try and complete a puzzle, trying remember what you just read and read out aloud with out stumbling to much. Just isn't all that fun!
"So how do you think you did?"
"Great actually, I'm pretty sure I’m not dyslexic anymore!" I said gleefully.
“Ah? Ah yes your right? or agh, your wrong?”
“From what I've seen I would say your severely dyslexic” Said the assessment man.
I think at this point I actually laughed! How could I be? My brain feels so much smarter these days, yes I still can’t do my times tables but that's no big deal? And I can use my fingers to add up?! So what if I spell out words in baby letters or just avoid spelling all together?
Suddenly flash backs of having coloured see through sheets over my books, standing and balancing on balls, doing weird exercises, swallowing cod liver oil tablets and sitting in the special yellow room for dyslexic students at school, stories of me refusing to read, all came flashing back to me.
I had tried talking in to voice recorders, had a spell checker which looked like a calculator, I was always the last one sat in the exam hall.
I didn't want to go back to that again!
The Struggle is real
The problem is struggling to know when your being dyslexic. I see the words I write and they look perfectly fine to me. It was only last year I learnt I had been spelling Tuesday wrong all these 26 years, and February. I mean.. who an earth thought to put a hidden R in Febuary!!! Whyyy!!!
My brain can feel incredibly frustrating at times. Its like it just stops working or just wont remember something which other people consider simple. There are times when I notice it more, be it just in conversation or a quiz situation or out shopping with friends and more noticeably at work. It gives me a bit of a rain check on how much more I struggle with things then other people. There are many things I wish I could think of faster or work out without having to get my fingers out to count. I wish when I spelt I didn't just do it all phonetically and maybe I even say the words wrong, I struggle to remember peoples names, important facts, dates. Punchuation barely exsists and you don't even want to see me try and work out why the women behind the till is asking if I have 60 p so she can give me a £5 note back! I have come to realise that all these little things are qualities to me which I will have to accept. We do have to work that extra bit harder, it might take a second longer, and we have to take extra care and struggle though it but we ALWAYS get there in the end.
What I have noticed most about my self and other dyslexic people I know is that we are very VERY determined! We will succeed just as well as everyone else and we might even do it better .. once we get there.
One of my most proudest moments was receiving a 1st in my dissertation. The stubbornness in me meant that I was determined to do it by myself, to check it and double check it over and over again with a fine tooth comb till I could be sure every full stop was in there, followed by a capital letter. Every spelling was checked even if I knew it was right and by hard work, determination and some kind of miracle I only went and got a bloody first!
There is more to life then spelling, calculating, exams. Dyslexic people are often extremely creative, good at recognizing feelings which means we excel at interpersonal skills. We can talk to people, think up creative ideas quickly, our imaginations are very visual and I believe this is very important to remember.
My weird dyslexic traits. (The ones I know about)
- - When I write a T sometimes it comes out as a 4
- - B is D and D is B
- - I love to write and sometimes I have a lot to say so my sentences are so long that when you are reading them I don't let you stop for a breath or pause I just don't know when to put a full stop or a comma so you just end up reading and reading the one sentence until you can not read any more due to having no breath left.
- or sometimes, I panic, so I just put, them in whenever I can, just incase.
- - I know my 2 times tables and my 10 times tables, and isn't there one you can do on your fingers? That is it.
- - I can't read the amounts for numbers. £1000 00 or £100 00. Its all the same to me which misleads me to thinking I'm rich sometimes but hey! Its a rich mans world.
- - Things I will never be able to spell - Lesgina ( lasagna), tomatoe , bananana, litually (literally), definatly (definitely)
- - I enjoy reading in my head, but not out loud.
- - Numbers, I just cant do them at all, I cant copy them , I cant remember them, they get all jumbled up and confused.
- - I always think people have short changed me. Luckily I have a very understanding best friend who when she used to live with me would pashentally write it all down clear on paper for me so I could stop accusing her of getting it wrong... now I live with my boyfriend.. hes getting used to it. haha.
My amazing primary school teacher Mrs Rogers once explained to me … dyslexia is like running in to a brick wall.. you just have to find a way to climb over it.
How to get over these walls.
- Double Check everything!!!! (Fair enough, I don't double check every spelling on the texts to my friends, they're used to it. It humours them. Dating a guy… yep, pretty sure they knew from my first message I am dyslexic and I have found its actually a bit of a conversation starter when you first meet them and they go through all your mistakes. You cant think about it too seriously or worry what people think.)
- There are a number of rhymes you can use to remember particular words you know you struggle to spell. I cant spell because with out saying a rhyme in my head. " Big Elephants Cry And Upset Small Elephants"
or use this method to remember post codes PE9 4 A Walk.....
- To remember numbers try and remember them in 3 character blocks at a time. 259 201 294
- Ask people to slow down when they explain things and make sure you write all the important information down so you can refer back to it
- When doing sums, or dealing with money, make sure you write your workings out down on paper, that way someone can check them for you or it might help your brain to make sense of the sums to see them written out.
- When checking your work, read it out loud. This helps to recongise some of the mistakes or if anything is missing
- Focus on the skills you are good at! I can't even tell you the amount of times I have tried to learn another language. Its time to face it, my brain just isn't going to take it in and I will never speak like a sexy senorita! However give me a photography brief or new bit of equipment and I become an expert! Now this I will stick at!
Its not just you!
This is very important to remember. When I was younger this is the list I had stuck on my wall to remind me of all the people I admired who are also dyslexic. Scott from 5ive was a personal favorite at the time.
Now a days more and more celebrities are known to be dyslexic, if they are doing well I'm sure you can to!
- Jamie Oliver
- Keira Knightley
- Tom Cruise
- Mohammed Ali
- Orlando Bloom
- Jim Carey
- John Lennon
- Jennifer Aniston
- Holly Willoughby
- Steven Spielberg
- Whoopi Goldberg
- Albert Einstein
- Richard Branson
- Robin Williams
- Steve Jobs
- Walt Disney
- Thomas Edison
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Lewis Carroll
In there you have Actors, Writers, Directors, Inventors, Artists, Entrepreneurs, Business leaders. Which goes to prove there is nothing you can not do.
Improvements this year
Year by year some things do start to sink in. This year I learnt how to spell Tuesday and February, I learnt the difference between there, their and they're. It is a mystery why my brain decided to suddenly take note of these facts. Its like my brain just thought suddenly clicked what they were. Don't worry it only took 26 years...
My point is that you sometimes just don't have any control over your brain and what it does. Mine litually has a mind of its own and most the time it makes the rules so its better just to go with the flow.
I wanted to write this post a "quick" introduction of my experience with dyslexia. I want to let people know that is it OK and not to stress out about the academic pressures they struggle with, at the end of the day it is you and your personality which will get you far, not how well you did on a spelling test when you were 10.
*This post is only roughly spell checked.