Dyslexia: My Story
Hi folks, hope you are all well? At last I’m ready to launch by personal dyslexia story post hot off the press! Hopefully my story won’t bore you to tears or send you to sleep. So sit back, relax (maybe with a piece of cake and cup of coffee) and enjoy reading my story…well what I can remember of it anyway.
I was twenty one when I received my diagnosis and half way through completing a master’s degree. I can still remember sitting in my University's student support office staring at the paper that labelled some of my cognitive abilities as ‘below average’ and ‘well below average’. Before this, I didn’t realise how bad and low-scoring some of my abilities were. It was soul destroying, heart breaking and made me feel like a failure. Most of all, I was annoyed at myself for not realising before this point that something was wrong. I had just gone along with it and struggled through my education just thinking “I’m a bit shit at this and a bit shit at that”. But, my struggles had become so normal that I just assumed that I was doing something wrong and not working hard enough.
Allow me to give you a brief rundown of my time at school. I found Maths and Sciences horribly difficult and swiftly dropped them after successfully completing my GCSEs. My English and literacy skills were inconsistent and ‘hit and miss’. Although my vocabulary, writing style and writing content was good, my spelling, punctuation and understanding of grammar was generally poor. Most notably my handwriting has always been a problem; not helped by being a left hander. My writing is very small and cramped, with some letters joined, others not, some letters missing from words and sometimes half a word missing. Rather embarrassingly, during my A-levels my writing became so bad and illegible that my final papers had to transcribed by my subject teachers by hand. However, whilst at school, sixth form and university I developed a love and natural talent for Social Sciences. Sociology, Psychology and Philosophy were the three subjects I developed a huge passion for as I love learning about people and what makes us tick (and not just because I’m extremely bloody nosey).
It wasn’t until I was chatting to one of my friends at university whilst completing my masters did I realise that I may have dyslexia. I remember mentioning my difficulties with spelling, letter order when typing, memory, note taking whilst also listening to teachers/lecturers and handwriting. Then the penny dropped. Fast forward eighteen months as I sit here drinking what feels like my twelfth cup of coffee of the day I can reflect on my own diagnosis. To be completely truthful I find my dyslexia infuriating on a daily basis. My main difficulties, as outlined in my diagnostic report, are spelling, working memory and auditory memory/processing. For me everything has to be written down. Otherwise, if I’m told more than two things at once, I will not remember important information causing me to make mistakes or do even the most simple tasks wrong. For example, and this totally happened, I forgot how to make scrambled eggs the other day! Thankfully they did end up as eggs that were scrambled and were vaguely edible.
But in all seriousness despite these struggles I have spent eighteen months coming to terms with my diagnosis and trying not to ‘beat myself up too much’ about the mistakes and errors I make due to my dyslexia. Although I find this very difficult, I have to keep on reminding myself that it is now part of who I am. I can’t change or halt my dyslexia, but I can use coping strategies and dyslexic ‘life hacks’ to help me with my memory, spelling and organisation. Post-it notes, calendars, diaries and spell check have become my new literacy-based best friends. Consequently, my message to you all is whether you yourself are dyslexic or you know someone who is there are always coping strategies and techniques one can use to help manage the difficulties dyslexia brings to the table. Lastly, wrapping up neatly this post, being formally diagnosed with dyslexia has helped me understand myself better and identify how I learn and function best.