Being a Dyslexic Writer

Hi guys! So today i’ll be talking about Dyslexia. It’s something I remember struggling with all my life. It impacted the way i read, wrote and processed most things and I didn’t get a formal diagnosis until my first year of University.

A quick personal history

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So the story of my dyslexia first and foremost. I have always been at the top of my class - in terms of academics. I loved school, it was the only place I was happy. At home a lot was going on and so school was my escape from that and being good at it was everything to me.

I first realised something was up when I realised I couldn’t really read as well as everyone else. My mum told me millions of stories when I was younger, it was where my love of fiction comes from, and she would always read to me. In class when you’re very young too, teachers read to you. It’s not something that you do until a certain age. I think I was in year 1 (about 5 or 6 years old) when I realised I couldn’t read. We were given reading journals in class for the first time. We had to read at home ad show that we were making progress. We also had to read out loud in class. I remember this year so vividly because it was the first time I had ever been yelled at by a teacher. We’d go and take turns reading in class, and when it got to me, I’d struggle so much. My mum told me that I used to read in a robot voice, she said I was so focused on trying to figure out what words meant that it just came out so monotonously. During this time, I started to feel anxiety about reading time at school which lead to me hating books but loving stories which lead to me dreading school - my safe haven.

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My mum would be told over and over again that I was being lazy, not trying hard enough. Which confused my mum greatly, because all I did as a kid was homework and then extra work on top of that. My mum would buy those exercise books, the ones with the questions for the different level kids as a treat for me, and i’d finish it in one sitting. I wouldn’t sleep until I had done all the questions. School and work was all I did at home. It was the thing I enjoyed doing the most. So for the teacher to call me lazy my mum was really concerned. I eventually started forcing myself to read, trying to crack this magic code that wouldn’t click with me. I felt horrible, like my brain was broken. The words just didn’t make sense. I resorted to hiding my reading journal and saying I couldn’t find it, because the progress I kept making was never good enough and I’d get yelled at.

As I grew I stopped reading books, they stressed me out. I didn’t start reading again properly until I was 12, but I never stopped writing my own stories. Once when I was in year 5 (aged 9/10) I wrote my first book and gave it to my year 5 teacher - my favourite teacher I have ever had who I even went to do 2 weeks of work experience with when I was 15. She read it and wouldn’t stop laughing, flipping the pages and told me how great I was. She said she couldn’t wait for me to be a published writer and that I shouldn’t stop writing. She honestly probably changed the course of my life.

I decided to get the dyslexia test after having a hunch for a few years. One of my best friends, Drew, is dyslexic and she’s known for years and got tested early on. She is also a top student, in fact, she does Law right now at the hardest school to get into in the country. So dyslexia doesn’t mean you’re useless like teachers and people try and make you think.

The Test

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I first had to do a preliminary test to see if I had any of the usual signs of dyslexia. I pretty much aced that preliminary test - I definitely needed to see an educational psychiatrist. They set up a three hour examination with him and we did a bunch of tests and he timed me writing and we talked.

He told me one of the biggest issues with diagnosing dyslexia are teachers and the lack of education there. A lot of teachers assume you will find the dyslexic students at the bottom of the class and so they don’t even consider their top students struggling because of a learning disability. He said he reckons that it must have been so clear that I was dyslexic but it didn’t match their preconceived notions of what a dyslexic child should look like and so they ignored it until i was 18.

I was diagnosed with both Dyslexia and Dysgraphia. Dysgraphia is specifically a form of dyslexia where you struggle with expression, spelling, penmanship among other things.

Life suddenly started to make sense.

Being a writer with dyslexia

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Being a writer with dyslexia and dysgraphia is very possible. I love stories, always have and I love telling them. I just have a little difficulty getting it right the first few times - making the sentences make sense.

It doesn’t mean i’m useless or can’t write, it just means I have slightly different barriers when doing so.

I wish more dyslexic kids knew that they weren’t broken and that they can still achieve their wildest dreams. But so many people make them feel that they are and that isn’t right.

I hope to write books with dyslexic characters, go to schools and raise awareness on the issue.

Thank you for reading this post! I think it’s so important to raise awareness and be clued into what it’s like for people with dyslexia. But also recognise that my brain working this way doesn’t make me any less of a person and that I can still do all the things I set out to do.