Discover your own way to revise with dyslexia

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With so much pressure on students to achieve high grades these days, it’s not surprising that 60% of Scottish students are ‘very stressed’ about exams. If you are also dyslexic and have difficulty reading or concentrating, this can add to your anxiety while revising for final assessments.  Before you start your revision, ask for support and advice and make sure you take advantage of all the resources for dyslexic young people that are now available.

Getting organised

You may struggle with organisational skills, but if you take the time to make a revision plan, you will find it much easier to stay on top of your work. This is just one of the many useful skills that can help manage dyslexia. It will also ensure that you don’t leave revision to the last minute. Cramming the night before an exam is rarely of benefit to any student, especially if you usually need more time to process information. If you find it difficult to remember what you have learned, natural supplements may help with memory and eating well, exercising and getting a good night’s sleep will all mean your mind is performing at its best.

Creative revision

Once you’re ready to settle down to work, look out for different ways to engage with revision material. Simply reading the text and copying out information isn’t always the most effective way to help material sink in. Exploring unusual and diverting educational materials like comic strips or creating colourful mind maps can keep your attention and help you to retain more information. It may be that you use a laptop or tablet for your studies and there are many revision apps available that you might find useful.

Listening and speaking

If you write slowly, asking someone to test you verbally is a quick way for you to check how much you have learned. Having to explain a topic to someone is also a great way to fix that information in your mind. Resources such as podcasts and short internet lectures are an invaluable way to absorb new material and revise without having to read or concentrate for too long.

Revising for exams is difficult for everyone but it’s important to discover a method that works for you. Finding the best way for your mind to absorb and retain information and accepting any help with revision techniques can ensure that you fulfil your potential during your exams.

Jennifer Dawson, Dyslexia Blogger

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Bear with me

bearwithmeweb_lcaveBear with me as I fumble for words,

it takes time, which may seem absurd

 

Bear with me as I doodle and draw,

I have the feeling I just can’t write anymore

 

Bear with me as I go for a walk to clear my head,

to try and lift this feeling of dread

 

Bear with as I get myself back on track,

to meet this deadline which I know I can crack

 

Bear with me as I doodle and draw, my head is full,

I can’t think straight anymore

 

Bear with me as I take my time,

find a pace that suits me fine

 

Bear with me as I pick up the pace,

I feel I can win this deadline race

 

Bear with me as the words transpire

Woohooo look at me I am on fire

 

Bear with me as my fingers tap away,

I am nearly done it’s the end of the day,

For this little rhyme,

it took a huge amount of time,

 

Bear with me as bring this to a close,

Scraping through by the skin of my nose,

As I sigh with relief,

I will keep this brief

 

Bear with me is my mantra in life,

its kept me out of certain strife,

Knowing I need that extra time

letting people know I am Dyslexic is fine

Dyslexia is part of me

so please bear with me and let me be me

Words and illustration by Laura Cave-Magowan

If you would like to hear more about Laura’s illustrations, she will be doing a talk at our Members Day and AGM on Saturday 17th November.

Dyslexic autobiographies

Here are some life stories of dyslexic people that I’ve found helpful.  The first 2 are podcasts.  The others are books, 2 of which are available in audio.

Podcasts

Anthologies

  1. ‘Dyslexia and Us’

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Published 2011.  Available in print.

Dyslexia Scotland produced this book in collaboration with Edinburgh Libraries.  It gives over 100 personal stories of dyslexia by people of various ages, from a wide range of backgrounds.  I identify with many of the people who contributed to this book because many of them remained anonymous and most of the ones who didn’t are not famous.

One story helped me to understand people’s responses to dyslexia.  It taught me that people’s expectations are based on what is usual.  But dyslexic people are unusual because there’s a wide difference between their strengths and weaknesses.

It also taught me that humans instinctively fear difference.  This fear can make us reject people we perceive as different, and behave aggressively towards them.  People don’t like admitting to this behaviour so they blame others.

2. ‘Creative Successful Dyslexic – 23 High Achievers share their stories’

By Margaret Rooke.  Published 2016.  Available in print.

This tells the stories of 23 successful dyslexic people.  Most of these people are in the public eye.  Each profile starts with 1 or 2 photos of the person and the gist of their story.  Then the person tells us about their career.

I found the stories engaging and accessible.  I found it interesting to discover how people had entered and progressed through their career.  In many cases, their journeys were creative and unconventional.

They also describe specific ways that their dyslexia affects them in their work.  For example, footballer Steven Naismith describes how he’s good at being in the right place at the right time, as you can see here.

Book-length autobiographies

  1. ‘The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah: the Autobiography’ (poet, activist, lyricist, writer)  Published 2018.  Available in audio and print.

This taught me about performance poetry, social issues and the positive influence writers can have on other people’s lives and society.  Benjamin talks about the transformative effect that poetry and martial arts have had on his life.  He also describes how his mum would speak in rhyme at home; how his performance poetry career started in a church context; and how he once pitched a radio play to a producer by performing the words, music and sound effects.

2.  ‘Pour Me – A Life’ By AA [Adrian] Gill (critic)                                                                     Published 2015.  Available in audio and print.

This book is extremely eloquent.  Although it deals with some difficult experiences, the writing is so rich that I found it a pleasure to read.  I was particularly struck by Adrian’s account of how he became a journalist: to paraphrase him, he’d tried everything else.

3. ‘Jo Malone – My Story’ (entrepreneur)                                                                                  Published 2016.  Available in print.

The most significant point of this book for me was when Jo managed to talk her way into a perfume laboratory in Paris.  This was highly irregular – only the perfumers were allowed into the lab.  And yet, it was a pivotal point in her career because it’s where she discovered her gift for smell.

Some themes I noticed in these 3 people’s experiences were: they benefited from opportunities to learn and develop their skills outwith formal education (e.g. family, church); they used original approaches to harness opportunities that grew their careers; and they managed to change their behaviours and / or overcome external barriers.

By an anonymous member of Dyslexia Scotland