Invisible Disabilities Week; Dyslexia is a Learning Style! [Guest Post]



Written by: Through my Eyes - Jess
Jess is a 22 year old, who just graduated university! She blogs to show people the way she sees the world, and let her creativity show through! Follow Jess on Instagram here!

‘Dyslexia is more of a learning style’ - that’s how I see myself. I don’t see dyslexia as a ‘disability’, however it is something I have and people don’t see. The formal definition of dyslexia is : Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling.

I don’t like the term ‘learning difficulty’, I don’t really have difficulty learning! I am quite capable of learning new things and adapting to different situations. I’ll be more clear, I have mild dyslexia. It has varying intensities, it can be worse in some people and it can be better in others. I mainly have difficulty reading and spelling, and my memory isn’t the best either but this hasn’t stopped me from doing anything I wanted at any point in my life. I’ve listed my symptoms in more detail below:

  • I read slower than usual - both out loud and in my head
  • I forget what I’ve read just after reading it (which means I have to read the same sentence a few times!)
  • I have poor spelling
  • I have, in my opinion, poor memory
  • I get words mixed up when speaking and reading a text out loud
  • I get letters the wrong way around (like p and b)
Just to be clear, I’d like to point out some things that I am good at. This is a list of symptoms that are common in dyslexic people but I feel like I am pretty good at:
  • Time keeping
  • Planning essays/reports
  • Taking notes and listening
  • Meeting deadlines
I guess I’m trying to say that dyslexia presents itself differently in different people. Some dyslexic people are bad at maths and counting in general, whereas I think I’m okay! I don’t want people to presume that dyslexia means one thing, it can mean many things!

I wanted to do this post as my dyslexia wasn’t recognised by teachers until I was the end of school. Most people thought I was shy.

School was a struggle, I suffered with depression and anxiety and not knowing I was dyslexic didn’t help. Now I look back, there was many things that should have been warning signs. I was marked down for spelling and grammar a lot, I never knew where to put commas. (To be honest, I still don’t really know the exact rules!) Reading out loud in class was the worst things that could happen. When I was at school, in English we studied books like Of Mice and Men or plays like Romeo and Juliet. In these classes, the teacher would pick a random person to read a paragraph or so then work the way round the class until we had read a chapter. This used to set my anxiety off everytime. I would try to work out which bit in the chapter would be mine! This way I could read my part a few times so I wouldn’t stutter or hesitate when it was my turn. Presentations were also bad, I would always speak quietly and hesitate a lot. Basically my English grades were not great. Then again, I was in the top set for Maths? I didn’t understand it either.

By the time I was 14/15 I had a diagnosis from the doctor about my depression and anxiety. (This is another story for another time!) I told the school about this and showed them the doctors forms, and they gave me rest breaks for my exams. If you don’t know what I mean by rest breaks, they are ‘time out’ of exams that aren’t included in the actual exam time. I could take them when I got stressed and worked up. It was only when I was in the special rooms for exams, I got asked if I was dyslexic. I was like ‘I don’t know?!?!’. This made me panic even more. I spoke to my mum about it and she googled it, we found that I did have some symptoms.

Mum went back to the school to see how we could find out more and possibly run some tests. The school made us pay for an external test, and my mum was annoyed at this and the fact that the school didn’t spot anything. I got the document from the private doctor explaining my issues and how to help. By this point I was about 17 and school was nearly over. Going back to the school with this document only caused more upset. After reading it, the school and teachers agreed they wouldn’t put anything in place for me as I only had 1 year left. I was furious. We had paid for and I sat through hours of tests, to only find they won’t help me and I needed to do something sooner. I had no idea what dyslexia meant or what the symptoms were, not for definite. So how was I meant to do something sooner? I struggled through the rest of school, and to my delight, I’d made it to uni!

I did computer science at uni, not typically a girls subject, but I wasn’t scared. I went to uni 100% determined to do well. I had this hunch that better things were to come and I plodded on. I told uni that I was dyslexic straight away, and to my surprise, there was tons and tons of help. Uni was all about inclusion and I really felt that. I had lots of support - everything from extra sessions to support and meetings with tutors and extra time in exams! I was relieved! I could spend the time I needed to read the question and actually understand what it said!

I found that on my course, there was several other dyslexic students. I’d not been close friends with any other dyslexic students before and getting to know others with the same issues as me was a breath of fresh air. I could talk openly about my issues and how to combat them. We could bounce ideas off each other and complete coursework with one another's help. Revision was easier with others too and I felt myself completely blossom. I grew in confidence, excelled in my studies, made friends for life and create memories I’ll never forget. I came out on top with a 2:1! I will never ever forget uni and how it changed me for the better. The support was huge and helped me achieve everything I ever wanted. Graduation was such a special day and I felt like a complete princess.

Now I’ve started a job as an accounts manager for a well-known tech company. I really really like it and I’ve met some wonderful people. Part of my job is to quality check the clients website before it goes live. This seems like it would be a problem for most dyslexics as it involved reading and getting things right first time as the site will be published to the web! I am really not worried about this because it just means that I need to be organised and set more time aside in the week or month to do these checks. I know if I ask for help, I will probably get it, but for now I’ll just manage my time like I did at uni.

The way I see it, I just take a little longer to read and struggle reading out loud - and sometimes forget stuff! I don’t feel discriminated against in any way since being at uni, and I never feel like I can’t do anything. I don’t like to call it a disability because I’ve had the ability to achieve so much! I’d really like anyone reading this or anyone with an ‘invisible disability’ to know that you can achieve anything you put your mind to! Don’t let barriers get in your way, because beyond those barriers is everything you’ve ever wanted to accomplish and more!


Read all Invisible Disabilities Week posts here!

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