How old were you when you were diagnosed?
I was about 8 years old
How did you parents know something was going on for you?
I was struggling at school. My reading age was a few years behind what it should be but there were other area that I must have been doing well in. My Dad is also dyslexic, although he didn’t know it when he was at school. I was very unhappy. I have a distinct memory of being in primary school, not sure what year it was, but feeling totally confused how my classmates seemed to understand how to work out the maths problems that were on the board. I genuinely was confused, and that is a horrible feeling. I hadn’t missed any school, and I was a quiet child that payed attention. What ever had been taught in class just hadn’t gone in! It felt isolating.
What interventions/therapy did you have?
I had a test at school. I remember a nice lady came to talk to me and we played some games. It turns out they were IQ games etc. She concluded that I was intelligent, which was a huge contrast to my reading age at the time. I went to a special school a few afternoon or mornings a week. It was to help children like me and I loved it there. They had super small classes, so a lot of thing were taught one on one and a quiet setting. It was like I just needed to be shown how to work out the letter sounds and how they work together to make a word in a different way than I must have been taught in normal school. I had test on left brain right brain dominance and eye tested etc. Not sure what the out come of that was!
Do you have any siblings? and If so do they have a learning difference of any description too?
Yes, I am the oldest and I have a sister and brother. They don’t have any official diagnosis like I had, but my mum is convinced that they have an element of dyslexia.
What do you believe is the biggest gift about having dyslexia?
I think my empathy for people and patience has come from not finding thing easy at school. I think I have good problem-solving skills. When you find thing hard you get good of finding another way to do thing! I think it has also led me to really take a look at my nature and understand my strengths and the things that I need to work at. I am an introvert and knowing that, I can look back and understand why some thing were so much harder.
In what ways has dyslexia held you back?
The biggest way I think having dyslexia has held me back is the confidence I lost in myself and in my ability. It’s something that I still struggle with. And I know a lot of people struggle with that, and they don’t have a learning problem, but as a child I felt so stupid. It’s so awful to not only think you are stupid but know you are stupid. I remember feeling sorry for anyone that ever gave me a job because there would be people that could do it so much better than me! Thankfully I don’t think that anymore, and I focus on my strengths now.
What support do you wish you had've had growing up with dyslexia?
I think I was very lucky to have had the help I did. And it really did make a difference to my learning. My parents did the best they could and always encouraged me to just do my best, and as long as I worked hard then that was all that mattered. I was very introverted and painfully shy so I do wish I had been encouraged to play a team sport or something to help with my people skills, but I can see that my parents would have found that hard to push me to do something outside my comfort zone when it was already try so hard to keep up at school etc. I think I would have love forest school!
What do you wish people knew about dyslexia?
I am finding it really interesting reading new reports on dyslexia and love that it is being recognised as being someone that just learns in a different way and has different skills that don’t always how themselves in the classroom. I think the main thing is we all learn differently, we all have different skills, different strengths and weaknesses. That’s why we all need to work together in life. I think that problem solving and people skills are just as important as spelling. I can’t spell to save my life, but I do like writing my thoughts out and taking the time to consider what I want to say.
Thanks to Tracy for her time in helping others understand xx
Kylie Johnston is a Parent and Teacher Coach with a Passion for supporting you to better understand the children in your life.