The classroom can be a very intimidating, challenging and scary place for a student with dyslexia. It can be an environment the breeds anxiety and fear for those students and one that they simply wish to escape. This is definitely how I felt as child within the classroom before my dyslexia diagnosis at the age of eight.
As a child, I always loved to learn and especially read but as I progressed within primary school I could feel a gap starting to build between mine and my friends ability despite my best efforts of trying to keep up. I remembered losing my love for reading as I struggled to read aloud to the same level as my peers. The love I once had for education and learning was starting to fade away and be replaced with a crippling sense of anxiety. The thought of having to read aloud or have a piece of work presented to the rest of the class in case they saw the spelling errors I had made, filled me with dread and fear.
During this time, my mom started to notice the change in my approach to school and I was fortunate enough to have a teacher who with my mom agreed that I should have a dyslexia screening. It was from this screening that I found out I had dyslexia and gave explanation to the difficulties I was experiencing. This diagnosis came with mixed emotions as on one hand I found it as huge relief as it allowed me to have an explanation rather than an impending sense of self-doubt but on the other it filled me with more self-doubt of what I would be able to achieve and if my dream of being a teacher was impossible.
So, what exactly is dyslexia and how does it have an impact upon a person’s learning and day to day life?
Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty which means that it affects the way information is processed and learnt. This also means that it is a neurological condition and does not affect a person’s intelligence or IQ meaning people of all different levels of intelligence have dyslexia. Many people are surprised to learn that Pablo Picasso, Richard Branson and Steven Spielberg all have dyslexia. Although, it does mean that a person with dyslexia may find it difficult to recognise the different sounds that make up words and relate these to letters, which usually has a big impact upon a person’s education.
Despite all the difficulties that come with dyslexia it does also have its pros such as an increased creativity, an ability to see the greater picture and my personal favourite an ability to think outside of the box.
It was this outside of the box thinking that I have learnt to apply to my own education and it was within teaching environments that also applied this strategies that I was able to flourish and achieve the goals I set out to.
Although it took me a long time and whole to of failures to come to this way of thinking, but it was once I stopped viewing dyslexia as my hidden disability and instead as my hidden super power that I was able to see a change. Yes, I am very dyslexic and it does affect my daily life but it also an important part of who I am as a person and the way in which I experience the world around me and the teacher I am today.
It is one of the key factors of why I choose to work within special educational needs and I why I choose to share my disability with my students, so they know there should never be shame behind learning difficulties/disabilities because just like mine it can be their secret super power too. They can achieve what they set their minds too as like me it allows them to see and view the world in a unique way that allows for creativity and innovative thinking.
It was only once I learnt to wear my dyslexia as a badge of honour that I could use it to my advantage and I realised that it was the very thing that made me strong, resilient, visionary and special.