I remember when I found out I had dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia; and being told I was special. A label that carried through school, constantly being told that the way my brain works was unique, however, for me, it felt like this carried negative connotations. It made me feel like the odd-one out in academia, being branded ‘the worst case of dyslexia that the school had ever seen’ in front of an entire class.
I remember being told that my exams would not be marked with my spelling and grammar, and for a long time, I let all of this massively knock my self-confidence with my school work. However, the hardest thing I found was the fact that I didn’t fit into the creative mind that many people with dyslexia do. I am not good at art, struggle with creative writing and didn’t enjoy textiles or graphic design, a list of possible areas of study suggested to me whilst I was trying to decide what to do.
I loved history, modern studies and politics, however, I believed that these courses of study could never be open to me with the huge amounts of writing and reading. However, it was one of my Support for Learning teachers who explained that dyslexia is a complicated disability and it’s why so many people with it feel isolated. I was encouraged to not try and follow the ‘typical creative route’ and go with what I am passionate about.
And so I chose history, modern studies and philosophy as my subjects at Advanced Higher and found ways to manage the large amount of reading and writing. From this, I went on to complete my undergraduate degree in criminology from The University of York in July 2020 and am waiting to begin a masters in September 2021.
The thing about dyslexia is you have to find ways to work, which work for you and there is no universally acknowledged technique which works for everyone. I knew with the amount of reading I would have to listen to a lot of books rather than read them. I found out that planning essays only made sense for me if I arranged them into a mind map. And I knew that I would never just listen to a lecture once, I would have to listen multiple times to fully understand it.
I used to be so embarrassed to have dyslexia however I now understand that I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. Dyslexia teaches you how to work hard and how to do it effectively. So much more work needs to be done within schools for students with dyslexia, to teach them that it isn’t something to be ashamed of, but something to be celebrated.