Dyslexia and mental health

Our 9-year-old daughter is dyslexic.  Dyslexia runs through both sides of our family although myself and my husband are not dyslexic.  When we started to realise that our daughter was finding reading, writing and spelling difficult at school, we panicked.  We wanted school to solve this for us straight away.  As we have learnt more and more about dyslexia over the past two years we realised that dyslexia is life-long but that most people develop strategies to overcome the barriers.  Our daughter is wonderful, creative, inventive, artistic, considerate, kind, intelligent and hard working.  All those traits will set her up for a wonderful life.

However, we know school is going to be tough, but we continue to focus on the positives and we always talk of dyslexia in a positive way to our daughter. One of my main reasons for this is that our family also has a history of mental health issues.  I can see that my dyslexic daughter is sensitive and has already been doubting herself because she is dyslexic.  I want her to know that dyslexia is not a disability, it is a different way of thinking and that being able to think differently is actually really rather wonderful and makes her unique.

I became a member of Dyslexia Scotland in 2017 and joined the Moray Firth Branch Committee in 2018.  As a result, I was able to attend a recent residential weekend for all branches in Dunblane at which committee members from the various branches across Scotland came together to share their learnings, to meet and talk to each other and gather information from Dyslexia Scotland about new projects and resources and work being done to promote awareness of Dyslexia Scotland.

At the residential weekend, I met adults with dyslexia and parents like myself with dyslexic children, there were also teachers and people from business.  Whether they were looking for support or offering it, everyone was there as a volunteer.  Speaking to people either in the same situation as myself or having gone through something like what my daughter is going through, was so enlightening and so inspiring. These people have had such wonderful varied lives, they have had some fantastic careers and experiences. There were artists, teachers, business owners, civil servants, office managers and more.  All had experienced periods in their life which were challenging and many had experienced periods of mental unwellness largely through their years of education when times are really tough for dyslexics.

We were lucky to have Eugene Adams of Our Mind Matters come and talk to us about mental health and self-esteem in children and his work in the education sector trying to assist children who need support and assist teachers in providing that support.  Children (and adults) with dyslexia are highly susceptible to have low self-esteem and possible mental unwellness and although Eugene was not talking about children with dyslexia specifically, it was good to hear Eugene talk about how to support mental health in children.  For me the key things were to listen, be positive and promote being active.  I will ensure that I always talk to my daughter about dyslexia being a positive thing, I will try to always listen and make sure that she knows she can come to speak to me or someone else she trusts at any time and I will always encourage her to be active whether that be in sport and physical activity or participating in something she enjoys such as arts and creative activities.

Mental health affects everyone not just people with dyslexia although the evidence does suggest that people with dyslexia are highly likely to suffer mental ill-health at some point and most probably during their education years. We need to remove any stigma associated with both dyslexia and mental health.  I want to encourage the 10% of the population with dyslexia to feel strong enough to say, “I have dyslexia and I am not stupid”.

By Mandy Clinch

If you need help and support, call Dyslexia Scotland’s Helpline on 0344 800 8484 or email: helpline@dyslexiascotland.org.uk

For more information about dyslexia, please visit our main website:

www.dyslexiascotland.org.uk

Or our website dedicated to supporting children and young aged 8+:

www.unwrapped.dyslexiascotland.org.uk

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Writing for dyslexic wellbeing

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Writing helps me take care of myself, practically and emotionally.  In this blog post, I’d like to tell you about 3 things I write and how they help me.

1. Guidance for dyslexic adults

I share good practice with other dyslexic adults by writing blog posts, magazine articles and tips guides.  I find helping my peers exhilarating, confidence-boosting and emotionally healing.  The guidance I write also lets me identify and harness things I can do to self-manage my own dyslexia.

2. Letters I don’t send

– To people who have been important to me but whom I’m no longer in touch with

This lets me ‘check in’ with people at different junctures.  It helps me to cope with their loss and absence.  But it also helps me to celebrate things I would have liked to share with them.

– To people whom I never met

…such as family members who have passed on.  This lets me express things that I did not have the chance to say to them.

– To people I’m angry with

This lets me express my anger safely.  It often lets me see aspects of the situation that I haven’t seen before, and makes me feel calmer about it.

In each of these cases, imagining the other person as the audience helps me crystallise my thoughts and express my feelings.  Even though I know the people I’m writing to are not going to read any of what I write, it still helps me to articulate it.

3. Poetry

Writing poetry helps me recover emotionally from my negative experiences.  It does this in two ways.  Firstly, it lets me feel that I am gaining control of my experiences by:

– reducing them 

Poetry is very distilled.  So describing my experiences in a poem contains them and makes them feel more manageable.  The distilled nature of poetry also gives you a lot of choice in what you say and don’t say.  If there is something that you don’t want to share, you can just leave it out.

– expressing any of them I wish in an indirect way

For example through imagery or metaphor.

– giving them some order 

My memories of these experiences are patchy and not in chronological order.  By contrast, poetry has structure, which lets me put my experiences in a certain order.  It doesn’t matter that the order I put them in is not the order they happened in; what matters is that they are now ordered and it’s me who has put them in that order.

Secondly, writing poetry lets me feel that I am distancing myself from my negative experiences by:

– creating something new and beautiful out of them

This transforms them into something else, which gives me an alternative reference point for them.

– engaging my mind 

Crafting a poem – for example teasing out ideas, playing with words and searching for rhymes – takes my mind off everything else.  I find this complete absorption in a creative activity very therapeutic.

– achieving

I find the editing process very satisfying because it lets me articulate myself fully.  Each poem I write gives me a sense of achievement, especially as I never know I have it in me until I’ve written it.

More information

If you are interested in finding out more about how writing can help your wellbeing or other people’s, whether you are dyslexic or not, I recommend a book called ‘The Writer’s Key’ by Gillie Bolton.  You can find out about it here.

By an anonymous adult member of Dyslexia Scotland

The Adult Network: An Interconnected Patchwork of Blue Ribbons

On Saturday 2nd June I am looking forward to attending the big adult network meeting (where all 3 networks will come together). I will bring a display of my handcrafted blue ribbon badges. Although I do not feel I would be able to talk to the whole room about my creativity; please feel free to come and ask me about my work (if you’re coming too). I would ask one thing though, please, don’t worry if I take a moment to compose an answer to your questions as my processing speed is still a problem for me. And I am currently working on conquering my anxiety (which can arise when I’m trying to talk to people) when my anxiety and slow processing (related to my dyslexia) sabotage me at the same time I can dissolve into a jibbering mess. But as a former Brownie and Girl Guide I am not one to shrink from a challenge (I have, however, learned to take on realistic challenges rather trying to run before I can walk).

The photo above could be a classroom or stall display for Dyslexia Awareness Week. But I think its best feature is that it is made up of individual badges each individual could wear. The stars can all be untied from the central sunshine badge, also the blue diamonds which attach the big blue ribbon to the solar constellation can then be used on this own. As a display, worn as a scarf or a child’s sash (perhaps by a school’s/class’s Blue Ribbon Ambassador). The photo below shows an individual star badge and blue diamond badge. Some tying in of the “tiers” is required on the star badges, but I can show people how this can done (if my fingers will work when people are watching that is).

I will try to make as many blue ribbon badges and large blue ribbons as possible for my display as I know many of my fellow adult network members do a lot of good work with their local branches and may want supplies for this year’s DAW (Dyslexia Awareness Week: 5-10 November). And don’t worry, I agree with Ellie the brilliant young creator of the Dyslexia Scotland Blue Ribbons, blue should be free. Therefore, I will not be looking for payment for the blue ribbons. I have had displays of blue ribbons, badges at other events and people insisted on making donations, which I have passed on to Dyslexia Scotland (therefore if you see a collecting can at my stall – please don’t feel obliged to make a donation in order to take badges).

If you are interested in attending the all adult network meeting in Stirling on Saturday 2 June, please see our website for more details.  No need to book, just come along at 11am.

Doreen Kelly, Adult Network Member

GDPR and Dyslexia

I only have a surface level understanding of the new GDPR regulations, but hope it will cut down on my semi-junk-mail (which contributes to my information overload). I just wish one particular organisation would get the message and stop sending me the ‘do you want to opt-in letters’ (I’m sure I’ve had at least 2 letters already).

I do however, like the idea of organisations having to ask people to opt-in on forms; as I am seriously sick of having to read the fine print beside those tick boxes so carefully (sometimes even having my husband double check for me). On one form one would be asked to tick if you WANT to receive information, the next would be tick if you DO NOT want junk mail and then there were the third set of forms that you would have needed a post-graduate law degree in contract writing to understand what you are agreeing to if you tick the box!

I found that wee bit at the bottom of store points cards forms etc (that one is expected to fill out in checkout queues or some other distracting and time limited situations) extremely annoying and a little disabling.

A bit like all the different chip-and-pin machines; some of which say ‘Please REMOVE your card’ while others say ‘Please DO NOT remove your card’. The number of times I’ve taken my card back when the instruction actually said the opposite, is embarrassing. Nowadays when I have to use my card, I ask the checkout assistant if I’ve to take my card when one of those statements appears on the wee screen.

I hope these new regulations stop all the letters and emails I get – which I rarely read, but I never quite know if I should throw away or not.

Hopefully organisations will be motivated to declutter their websites and adverts so that those who have not opted-in can find out about their goods and services (that the individual customer actually wants). I find it very difficult to navigate all these websites with lots of bells and whistles which hide the information I actually want. And I can too often tell the story of an advert (off the telly), but when asked what was the advert for, I’m at an absolute loss!

My final point on the introduction of the new GDPR law is that as per usual it’s ironic – organisations are having to send out mail-shots which may be treated like junk mail, by the recipients. I have had recent experience of this particular aspect of these new regulations, as in my temp job in a housing association, I volunteered to fold hundreds of letters to go out to all the tenants.

Anonymous

Do you want to find out more about GDPR? Click on the link below:

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/resources-and-support/getting-ready-for-the-gdpr-resources/

 

 

The Choices We Make – the Life it Shapes Part 2

In my last blog ‘Part 1’ of this, I told the story of being moved from one school to another, to get help with my dyslexia, and how that move made a huge positive difference in terms of my literacy skills. On the other hand, the school move led to 7 years of bullying, and it destroyed my confidence and outgoing personality.

I ended my last blog pondering, if I could do it all over again, would I pick changing schools and get vital help for my dyslexia, or would I stay and grow up potentially heavily dyslexic, but with friends and confidence?

This is part 2, because the thing about regrets or wishes for ‘do overs’ is that they’re based on 20/20 hindsight and a presumption that life would turn out differently – better – if we’d followed a different path in our lives. But there’s no such guarantee, now is there?

I often have these ‘what if’ conversations with my partner. He grew up with confidence and friends and no learning (or other) difficulties. He got a ‘sensible’ (but not passion-felt) degree. He moved to a small Scottish town, he bought a flat, he got a safeguarded job, which he’ll be in until he retires. He never travelled. He isn’t ambitious. He doesn’t have a drive towards anything other than an easy life and financially safe retirement. And there’s nothing wrong with that! But not terribly exciting, in my opinion.

Whereas, I had learning struggles and so I studied hard to overcome the worst of my dyslexia. My bullying led me to desperately wanting to understand human behaviour and developed my passion for psychology. I fought my low confidence and self-worth for decades, constantly forcing myself to push beyond my boundaries. I left my business degree and the chance for a reliable book-keeping career behind, and moved to London. I then moved to Australia and New Zealand. After a bad break-up, I finally moved to Scotland, and I got my dream degree in psychology, despite critics telling me I couldn’t make it. With each step I took down my unorthodox path, I grew a little bit more in confidence and spirit. I walked away from another long-term, but bad relationship, ignoring the fear of being alone, or to be found unwanted, and I found love again with a supportive, accepting and great man – but not until I’d come to accept and love myself, flaws and all.

I’ve now set up a private counselling practice, despite my fear and embarrassment that my website, Facebook posts or contract might be riddled with spelling mistakes. I can still feel overwhelmed with a sense of ‘I can’t do this’, ‘I’m a fraud’, ‘I’m not as good as everyone else, so I shouldn’t be doing this’. But I won’t let my fears or inner critical voice stop me.

So, was I to get a do-over when it came to picking schools, I might have wanted to stay put and hope to have grown up with friends and more confidence. However, I know that the struggles I faced, the emotional turmoil, and the confidence battles I had to fight with myself, made me a stronger person, made me determined and stubborn (for better and worse), made me ambitious and adventurous. I made me someone who practices compassion in all encounters, knowing what it feels like to left out, ignored, or (mis)treated for being ‘different’; and it made me someone who wants to help improve other people’s lives. Had I had an ‘easy’ life growing up, I probably wouldn’t have developed such strengths.

What about you?

Terese Smith, guest blogger

5 ways to present information visually

I benefit from information being presented visually. So in this blog post, I’d like to share with you 5 ways to present information visually, and the purposes I use them for.

1. Spider diagram

What’s a spider diagram?

A diagram that has a main idea in the middle and key points around it. Spider diagrams don’t always use colour and have no specific structure.  In other words, you can position the key points wherever you wish.

I use spider diagrams to:

a) Brainstorm for a piece of creative writing

b) Plan a piece of non-fiction writing. I write my key points on post-it notes because this lets me move them around once I have them all down. Having my content all on one page lets me make connections between points.  For example, often I realise that 2 or 3 points that I thought were separate are actually examples of the same thing.  That lets me group them.  Moving and grouping my points generates a structure.

c) Learn and give talks. When I’m using spider diagrams for talks, I add pictures because they help me memorise the content. I chunk my talk into sections and for each section I make a different spider diagram on a different colour of paper

2. Mind map

What’s a mind map?

Like a spider diagram, a mind map is a diagram that has a main idea in the middle and key points around it. However, mind maps also show how the points relate to each other, and use colour, symbols and pictures.

Here are 3 resources on mind mapping

a) Audiobook: Mind Mapping – How to Liberate Your Natural Genius

b) Step-by-step instructions: ‘Understanding Dyslexia’ pages 68-75

c) Software:  I Have a Writing Difficulty, What Can Help?

3. Illustrated text

What’s illustrated text?

Text and complementary images presented together to convey the same information. I make a simple table in Word with 2 columns. I put one point in each row, with an image on the left and the corresponding text on the right.

I use illustrated text to:

a) Learn talks I give

b) Learn stories

c) Summarise recommendations I make in a talk (I hand out copies to the audience)

You can find sources of images in

a) CALL Scotland’s Guide to Picture and Symbol Sets for Communication and

b) Our top 5 sites for sourcing great images and photos on your iPad.

4. Sketchnote

What’s a sketchnote?

A record of something in words, pictures and other visual elements e.g. colour, frames, callouts. The text and visual elements combine to make an integrated whole.

I’ve made sketchnotes to summarise the main points of talks and blog posts I’ve given / written. And sketchnotes by others have helped me to learn stories and to find out about a network group.

For more information see Sketchnoting for Teaching and Learning.

5. Timeline

What’s a timeline?

A line that shows the events of something in chronological order.

I made a timeline to remind myself of a correspondence I had with an organisation.

Manual or electronic?

I use a pencil and paper to create some visual presentations of information e.g. spider diagrams; and a computer for others e.g. illustrated text.  If I’m presenting the information to others, I create an electronic version.

Further information

You’ll find a summary of this blog post here, along with some worked examples.

By a member of Dyslexia Scotland.

The Choices We Make – the Life it Shapes

When I was 7, my mother asked if I wanted to change school. I was at a public school and was struggling with my reading and writing. It was suggested I was dyslexic but there was little extra time to give me at my current school to help me improve. My mother had found a place for me at a private school, where the money spent would go towards a smaller class size with (in theory) more time for the individual student and extra, private tutoring after school. I was excited about the idea. I loved change. So, after the summer break I started at a new school. So far, so good. I made instant friends, being chatty and outgoing and even felt comfortable (shamefully) ignoring the less popular girls to hang with the ‘cool kids’ – I’d never been a cool kid before myself!

However, shortly after starting at the new school, there was a school party. I went. I hung out with the cool girls and we shared dumb stories about boys. The following Monday I walked into class with confidence and joy… but things had changed.

As an adult I can try and analyse what had happened. Had the cool girls become jealous of my elaborate stories, or resented me for clearly lying, or were they simply looking for a new girl to pick on, bored by the old selection?

I don’t have the answers. I once tried getting it from one of the bullies as an adult, but she denied it had ever happened though it hadn’t stopped until I left school altogether.

I’m now an introvert. I don’t want to be the centre of attention and would prefer staying at home with a book, to going to a party. I’m not outgoing nor sociable. I’m happy with who I am (most of the time) but there are consequences to being a quiet person both socially, romantically and career wise.

I’m still dyslexic, of course, but I can mostly get by without anyone realising (thank goodness for spell check and autocorrect). In my spare time I write (unpublished) books and blogs and I love reading too, so, naturally, most people are surprised when I tell them I’m dyslexic.

Then, the other day I was talking to my mum about my outgoing, chatty 7-year-old niece who may need to move school soon due to moving house. My mum was worried. What if she faces the same problems as me, being removed from her life-long friends? Why would she? I asked. She’s confident and happy, I argued. So were you when you were that age, before the school change, my mother reminded me.

I was stunned. I’m 35 and I’d forgotten this fact about myself as I identify so strongly with being an introvert. I desperately wanted to change as a teen and in my 20s but failed. Clearly I’d always been a person in need of peace and quiet… but apparently not.

I was left wondering – if I could get a do-over and not get the intense help I did as a child for my dyslexia, risking being very badly dyslexic today, but had instead grown up among friends, and stayed confident and happy, like my older, very sociable, popular and dyslexic brother, who avoids emails, still embarrassed he might make mistakes, would I make a different choice…?

After all, it wasn’t my dyslexia that ruined my confidence but my peers and teachers.

I think I know the answer. It was difficult for me to admit.

What would you choose if it was you?

By Terese Smith (guest blogger)

Dyslexia Scotland’s Youth Day is Always Full of Stars!

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As the annual Youth Day is just around the corner once again, I thought I’d let you all know about my experience at last year’s youth day.

I had a stall in the foyer with my paper crafts (see the picture above). I had some complete items for the young delegates to pick up and keep and some packs for them to make up themselves (either at the youth day or later at home).

I believe that these star cards are fantastic illustrations of the hidden nature of dyslexia. I wanted the young people to learn from them that their label needn’t be, “I’m dyslexic” but “I’m A Star, with dyslexia”. I provided many colours (and patterned papers) to illustrate the individual nature of dyslexia, and how individuality should be embraced.

I enjoyed watching the young bright stars who came along to take part in the event and how they interacted with the wonderful volunteer stars (who helped them all to have as good a time as possible [given it was a Saturday]). I hope this event and every subsequent annual youth day allows young, and the slightly more experienced, to learn from each other.

I believe there are 2 main points everyone needs to learn (and re-learn) and remember:-

  • We cannot hide our ‘star’light under a bush or under the disabling effects of dyslexia (or whatever our problems are)
  • Mistakes are learning experiences. More Mistakes = More Learning

I hope that through the Youth Day the young people will gain some “wisdom” / “well-being”. I hope the next generation of dyslexics will be strong advocates for themselves and others. It’s through strong and nurturing people like the workshop speakers and facilitators, that this world will become a better place for everyone; and hopefully help the human race make use of its diversity and allow everyone to live better and more fulfilled lives.

There is something else I would like to suggest to the Dyslexic Community. I wasn’t overly involved in the dyslexic community (other than through support at school and university) when I was young. Because of this, I blamed all my muddled thinking and confused cognitive processes on my dyslexia.

It was only through attending the Adult Network meetings and my involvement with Dyslexia Scotland, that I realised that I am an anxious person (and that my mood can be affected by the weather and seasons). I have found my dyslexia has been much easier to control now that I have sought help with controlling my moods.

Therefore, I would suggest to everyone living with dyslexia: to find out about it. Knowledge (however you input it) is power. Understanding gives control. Control fights monsters and lets the light shine brightly.

Doreen Kelly, Dyslexia Scotland member and volunteer

Learning styles and strategies

This blog post looks at learning styles:

  • What are learning styles?
  • How can learning styles help dyslexic people?
  • How can you work out your own learning styles?

And then at strategies:

  •  Some approaches and strategies I use to learn things by ear
  • Some books that offer approaches and strategies.

What are learning styles?

Learning styles are the ways we prefer to learn things. Just as our personalities vary from person to person, so do our learning styles – they are in effect our characters as learners.

There are many different types of learning styles.  For example:

  • sensory (learning through seeing, hearing or doing);
  • cognitive (how you think and deal with information); and
  • environmental (e.g. learning on your own or with others).

 

This interactive pictogram shows one set of learning styles.

How can learning styles help dyslexic people?

Learning styles provide a framework you can use to work out how you learn. Then you can choose approaches and strategies that suit you.  For example, if you learn better through pictures than words, you can choose approaches and strategies that will let you learn through pictures.

How can you work out your own learning styles?

I recommend the questionnaire that is no. 2 on this list as a starting point.

3 approaches / strategies I use to learn content by ear

My school Modern Studies teacher was wont to say ‘OK everyone, put your pens down now and listen. This is a really important point’.  Then he’d tell us something that he wanted us to grasp.  However, I couldn’t take it in by just listening – I had to write it down in order to keep focussed on it.  But even writing it down didn’t make it ‘go in’.

By contrast, to break up the lesson he would tell us stories that had nothing to do with Modern Studies. They have stuck in my mind, yet I never wrote a word of them down.

So although just listening didn’t work at all for Modern Studies, it worked a treat for stories.

Since then, I’ve discovered that taking visual notes while I listen helps me learn Modern Studies-type content (abstract and factual). I make my notes more visual by using visual recording techniques and spider diagrams (see no. 6 on this list).  I use this strategy for taking in the content of church sermons.

Doing something else at the same time as listening also helps me take in fictional audiobooks. In this case, though, the other activity needs to be something mindless, like washing up.  You could also try knitting or squeezing a stressball.

So to summarize, here are 3 approaches / strategies I use to learn content by ear:

  • Just listening if the content is short stories e.g. a few sentences.
  • Taking visual notes if the content is abstract and factual e.g. sermons.
  • Doing something mindless if the content is long stories e.g. audiobooks.

Books that offer approaches and strategies

The following books suggest approaches and strategies suitable for each different learning style. They are all available to borrow from Dyslexia Scotland’s Resource Centre. You can also make up your own strategies and approaches.

  • ‘Making Dyslexia Work for You’ by Goodwin and Thomson
  • Living with Dyslexia’ pages 56 – 57
  • ‘The Dominance Factor’ by Carla Hannaford
  • ‘Dyslexia and Learning Style – A Practitioner’s Handbook’ by Tilly Mortimore
  • ‘The Dyslexic Advantage’ by B and F Eide chapters 8, 13, 18 and 23.

How about you?

  • What sticks in your mind?
  • Can you work out why?
  • What strategies and approaches help you learn?

By an anonymous adult member of Dyslexia Scotland

Dyslexia, the Media and Tempered Gratitude

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While it is no secret that dyslexia sometimes causes struggles for many people, it is also important to remember that some people believe that dyslexia gives them enviable traits and a competitive edge in the workplace. Luckily, thanks to the mainstream success of plenty of people with dyslexia – and their openness about living with dyslexia – the media is awash with people thriving with it.  In the opinion of some people, they succeed because they have dyslexia not in spite of having it.

The widespread and well-documented success of people like Jamie Oliver, Steven Spielberg and Richard Branson, who also happen to have dyslexia, does a great deal to illustrate the fact that while some people may find the learning difference a hinderance, many find it advantageous to their lives. Furthermore, the prevalence of those who have dyslexia in the public eye supplies people with plenty of role models, which can do wonders for self-esteem.  Perhaps this information can be viewed as nothing more than common sense, but at a time where everyone is keen to promote positivity about dyslexia we would all do well to remember that such positivity is not a luxury that all learning differences, on the same spectrum and otherwise, have.

Firstly, the positive media coverage that dyslexia regularly enjoys is more often than not simply not there for other learning differences. It is doubtless frustrating when people make false assumptions about dyslexia; e.g. it’s just a difficulty with reading and writing, but what would you rather – that someone at least attempts to understand something or has no clue what it even is?  If someone describes dyscalculia as the mathematical version of dyslexia, an understanding of the latter condition is at least assumed.  Granted, it may be a simplistic one, but it’s apparent nonetheless.  In that sense at least, it’s a privileged position to be in, because some people might not have heard of, for instance, dyscalculia or dyspraxia, whereas you can bet that most people understand what dyslexia is, even if it is in the most basic way.

The media unequivocally proves that people who have dyslexia can make a success of their lives. Whether they see it as a gift or a curse, the fact that, for example, Keira Knightly is dyslexic doesn’t in any way affect the success of her career.  The same is true for Will Smith, Anthony Hopkins and Orlando Bloom.  I bet that people with other learning differences, whether or not they are in the public eye, wish they were thought of similarly.

Having said this, just because I’ve stated that there are positives attributed to the fact that dyslexia is widely spoken about in a positive manner doesn’t mean it is all plain sailing for those who have it. I didn’t want to seem biased or ignorant by failing to mention that some people see it as a label used by the middle classes to justify academic under achievement; which is of course wrong and misinformed.  On a related note, while you would be forgiven for thinking that an identification of dyslexia automatically means access to specialist support, this is not always the case, for ever-dwindling resources mean they have to be prioritised.  People are sometimes told that while they have dyslexia, they are borderline and therefore are not entitled to extra support.

Just because some famous people have dyslexia doesn’t mean that struggles don’t occur for many and we have to take care not to minimise those as dyslexia becomes even more publicised; as it has most recently, following the news that Penny Lancaster has been assessed as being dyslexic at the age of 46. It might even be that some problems, such as the oversimplification of dyslexia, occur as a result of the media coverage that dyslexia receives; but that isn’t to say that it shouldn’t still continue.

It’s only as a result of information being in the public domain that myths can be dispelled, coping strategies can be shared, and truths can be discovered; these being just three things that make the media coverage dyslexia gets to be not only worthwhile and vital, but in the main, something that should be much appreciated.

Gemma Bryant, Resource Centre Volunteer