Adulting with Dyslexia – My story by DysMysLexia
Hi I am DysMysLexia. I am a woman of Indian origin not young and not old. I was born and raised in the heart of England – Coventry that is- please don’t judge. My honours include a Fellowship from the Royal Society of Arts. Alumni of the year from my former university for Community and leadership and I received Coventry Citizen of the year for Arts work. Under all this sparkle is my story of struggle and climbing many mountains. I hope my stories move and inspire you. I feel blessed to have this superpower of 3 – #Dyslexia, #Dyspraxia and #Dyscalculia.
I am honoured to be the voice of adults with Dyslexia for the Adult Dyslexia Organisation. There are so many misconceptions around dyslexia that I want to dismiss. We often associate Dyslexia with an image of a little kid who reads or writes backwards. This is a minuscule facet of the truth. I also want to give fresh perspective of Dyslexia as an adult, as a woman and a person of heritage because Dyslexia is being mistold and misold.
Dyslexia is regarded as a specific learning difficulty (SLD) but I say it’s more of a learning style though it puts people who have it at significant disadvantage. Dyslexia is a part of a massive spectrum and it’s not one size fits all. People with dyslexia are diverse. Irrespective of race, sex, IQ anyone can have it if you’re lucky enough. For example, some people may be verbally articulate and may have difficulty with formulating spellings, sentences and have difficulty reading or missing certain words to a degree. Words might jump off the page or disappear. Spelling might be atrocious like mine. They may get words that sound similar confused. I do! Or on the other hand they may struggle to formulate a verbal sentence but can write it or draw it like a genius. We are the same.
I also have dyscalculia and dyspraxia which are part of the Dyslexia umbrella. First meaning that I have difficulty visualising numbers. I may not see the number 5 unless there are 5 things or a pattern of 5. On a 3-digit letter I often read the middle number as being the first such as 456 being 546. As for Dyspraxia that’s just a posh word for being clumsy. I struggle with coordination though I still dance. I can fall up the stairs or appear to wobble like I am drunk. I am messy. My hand writing is abysmal, but I am great portrait artist. I struggle with spelling and remembering how t spell or what that word looks like. But on the other hand, I am a writer with publications and can proof read the work of my students to perfection. There is a whole host of things.
Dyslexia is forever and not just for childhood. It does not go away.
Dyslexia is forever and not just for childhood. It does not go away. However, I do need to revisit my childhood to begin my story. As a child I always knew I was different. There was a world around me that I couldn’t quite break into. I was left to my own resources to create my own way to understand my surroundings. I learned to read and write probably at the age of 8. I still don’t know how I slipped through not going to a special needs school when I clearly had huge difficulties back then, but I am glad. I was desperate to grasp words, but they were so out of my reach. I used to write stories. Most of it was shite but everybody has a right to write. At least I can say I was a trooper who carried on no matter how bad I was. They made sense to me.
My first memory of Dyslexia was not being able to read the white board at school. Black boards were becoming extinct and I am not that old by the way. My mother sent me to the opticians for an eye test. I kept telling the optician that I can read the letters, but they were dancing, but she ignored me. I was given prescription glasses because they thought I couldn’t see well. It was only 15 years later after having laser eye surgery I came to realisation that I was wrongly given glasses. The letters were dancing because of my dyslexia and not my vision.
I was not stupid kid. Ok I wasn’t astute, but education let me down. I was branded a ‘lazy’. Step outside of school and I was gifted. I could make anything without instruction or being taught. I could sew. I used to make dolls clothes and puppets. I was a fantastic painter and a great dancer with two left feet. I made things out of woodwork including a table! I had pathways to creativity like no other.
Growing up there were no privileges. We didn’t have much but I made a lot from nothing. My parents didn’t nurture my potential. It was almost like they abandoned the thought of me ever achieving because I wasn’t achieving in school. I guess they didn’t know how. In school I was excluded instead of being included. I was sent to ‘room 16’ to do intervention which was menial writing tasks that were tedious. I was not learning. I predictably failed my GCSE’s. But really, I was failed because I didn’t have the tools to manage my time in the exams as well as not knowing the content because I wasn’t in class. By the time I had finished one question the bell rang. I failed every single exam!
I looked at my F-U-D-G-E grades in humiliation. My teachers offered me hairdressing courses- Yes, I would be a badass hairdresser but I wanted to go to university! I wanted to learn about social issues. I was hungry for Knowledge. I went to my teachers and they laughed and said, ‘you will fail’. I was angry because I knew I had it in me. I went to the head of Psychology, Mr Rattigan and told him I wanted to do A ‘level Psychology. He looked at my grades shook his head and said, ‘Ok’. I was over the moon. From d’s and e’s, I excelled! I got a C in my first assessment and an A in my first AS module. Did my ‘thicknesses disappear? No, I just developed creative techniques to remember things. I also enjoyed what I was being taught so that helped. I was challenged. I spoke to my class notes as if they were people, I sang and rapped them to learn them. I used colour codes smell codes you name it I invented it- well at the time I thought I did. Sadly, Mr Rattigan died just after my exams but my last words to him were ‘you are the best teacher ever’. Without him I would not have been given the chance to shine.
I did get to university. What an achievement but there I began to struggle because there was so much to read! I was putting in long hours and only achieving 50% of the marks. It didn’t seem right. Then one day a lady from Student Support came to my lecture and spoke about learning difficulties. I didn’t think it was for me, so it went in one ear out the other. I just summoned my struggles to being ‘dumb’. It was a year into my degree I plucked up the courage to see her and burst out crying saying, ‘I can’t read’. She acted straight away. I was assessed formally by a psychologist and was given the gift of Dyslexia. I received support at university that was impeccable. This does not mean I got extra help, or someone did the work for me. The barriers were removed. The playing field was even. I had a better chance.
I got a fabulous tutor, Ethan. He helped me organise my research and enabled me to proof read better with the aid of computer software and overlays. He also explained Dyslexia very eloquently. He wrote:
I am a sheep not a tree.
He asked me if there were any pictures I saw with this sentence. Yes ‘sheep’ and the ‘tree.’ He asked if there were any images for the word ‘the’? no. He told me that people with dyslexia have a more visual and creative brains. They are right hemisphere dominant. -outbox thinkers. People without it are left hemisphere thinkers in box thinkers. He added that people with dyslexia process pictures faster than words. Around 10-20 images per second. Certain words have pictures and someone like me can process more pictures per minute than words. Ambiguous words without pictures are often not processed, ignored or skate off. This was very true as I find it difficult to read out load and the words, I stumble on the most are ‘it, was, the’ etc. My brain just didn’t grasp them. I was happy with that and Ethan gave me so much confidence within myself that if I were to now go back to university, I would cope independently with my tools.
Now that I am adulting -just about, I have discovered more struggles but also more ways to cope. There are still daily battles with life and work but many funny stories. Read more in my next blog. Thank you for taking the time to hear my story.
#DysMyslexia #Dyslexiaisforlife #Dyslexicadults #gift #embracedyslexia