First of all I would like to say that I am not posting this for sympathy or attention regarding the fact that I am dyslexic – I just thought it would be a nice topic to talk about today and share in the hope of maybe helping others understand the daily struggle dyslexics can go through, or maybe helping others discover they can get help for the struggles they face. On another note before I start I should say that both of my parents are dyslexic so it is almost definitely hereditary for me, but that is not the case for everyone.
I have known that I am dyslexic since I was 15 years old after being assessed at my academy (or High School as it is more often called) although my mother had always said that I was because I struggled with basic reading and writing skills. The reason I was assessed is I struggled with exams, and ended up getting extra time which was a really big help. Today I was reassessed by an educational psychologist because I didn’t get any paperwork to prove my dyslexia the first time round, that is why I am choosing to post this now.
All of my life I have felt stupid because I didn’t understand things the way other people do, my brain can’t retain information in the same manner that others do. I can never remember the definitions of words, names, or well, most trivial things not relating to the films I have watched a thousand times. To fully retain information, for me, it takes at least 3 readings or viewings of things before it all sticks in the noggin – in the past this has caused people to call me stupid, or laugh at me because I couldn’t answer their questions…I am not stupid, in fact I am very intelligent under the correct circumstances.
Today I was asked who Mahatma Ghandi was as part of my assessment for dyslexia and I couldn’t answer, not because I don’t know who he was – I don’t live under a rock – but because in the moment of being asked I couldn’t find the words to say who he was. Once again, this does not make me stupid my brain just works a little differently. Another thing I was asked to do was define the word generate, which I eventually managed to achieve after a lot of raking around and trying to find the answer…I knew what generate meant but I, once again, couldn’t find the correct terms in which to describe it.
This is a struggle for me on a day to day basis because everyone always asks me questions I can’t answer like, most recently, I was asked what a film was about after mentioning it and I could not tell my friend what it was about which spurred him on to say “And this is why I never ask Jodie questions, she never answers them.” This made me feel rubbish because that is the equivalent of him saying I am useless or that I am holding information back from him, which I am not it just takes me longer to get to a conclusion. He is part of the reason I am writing this, he just doesn’t understand what dyslexia affects and how much I struggle with it.
My maths is very good, it is my strongest point of the dyslexia assessment because for some reason numbers stick in my head better than words, which is fine and won’t be the same for other dyslexics. Some dyslexics struggle with mathematics just as much as English, which I did at school but not so much anymore due to a lot of practice. Now I may be good at maths, but I am rubbish at finishing patterns, you know the ones where you have to pick the missing part of the pattern? Yeah they are awfully difficult for me because my brain struggles to find the connection of the smaller picture to the bigger picture.
Spelling is a very strong point for me because growing up I felt like a defining factor of intelligence was knowing how to spell (which is obviously not true, but as a child it felt that way) and basically trained myself to spell words correctly, this helps out a lot but often makes people doubt that I am dyslexic because they don’t see the other parts of dyslexia. A lot of people think dyslexia is just the struggle with reading and writing, they don’t realise all of the other things that are affected by dyslexia. Due to my spelling and grammar being pretty good I find it easy to write, but I have a very hard time reading.
Often I will write something and not be able to actually read it back for proofreading. Although I have trained myself to be good at essay writing, I struggle with it and it takes me at least twice as long as your average person to get the structure correct along with the content. This is something I am always complimented on, however, even though they are never proofread I always get good grades or compliments about my essay writing…even when I think they are rubbish because I struggled to write them. I am a very slow reader which makes it difficult for me to read books, by the time I get to the end of a 300 page book I have forgotten what happened at the start because I haven’t been able to retain the information.
Still I focus on my dream of being a writer, and still I get compliments about my writing on a daily basis. Dyslexia should never be an excuse to not do something, only a reason to get help doing it. I am one of the people that proves dyslexia shouldn’t hold you back, and only will if you let it. I am at university, I blog almost daily and have just written almost 1,000 words about my dyslexia. If you are dyslexic and want to be an actor, do it – someone that proves it can be done is Kara Tointon who is heavily dyslexic and still manages to learn her lines every week. Dyslexia is NOT a weakness, it is only a minor setback to you achieving your goals.