This week is Dyslexia Awareness Week, so I had a great idea – I’d ask my 10 year old daughter Grace to write a guest blog about being dyslexic. Grace was diagnosed with dyslexia just over a year ago. The poor child had struggled for years, hiding her difficulties and wondering if she was ‘stupid’. It’s testament to her grit and also intellect that she was able to hide it for so long, even passing an entrance exam
If your child struggles to tell the time, I mean really struggles. If your child doesn’t know the alphabet and finds any kind of sequences, like times tables, difficult and if you send them off to do something (like put on their shoes) and you find them ten minutes later brushing their doll’s hair. If your child often confuses b and d, writes numbers in the mirror image and can never remember to use capital letters – these are all telltale signs of dyslexia. Don’t listen to the teachers, you know your child best and follow your gut instinct.
There are many famous and brilliant dyslexics – Winston Churchill and Richard Branson to name a few. Grace has an incredible memory and an amazingly creative imagination, but her processing memory doesn’t work the same way as others’. She has to work ten times as hard as everyone else to digest what’s going on. In an education system where the teacher talks and you listen and copy words down, dyslexics struggle.
So, I asked Grace to write a little about how she feels. Bear in mind asking a dyslexic to write is like asking an arachnophobe to hold a spider. She shed a few tears so I told her not to worry, but she took herself off with my laptop and came back with the below. I haven’t edited it even though the typos and lack of punctuation are making me twitch. I was tempted to take the bit out about how her parents don’t support her and just shout at her – this is patently not true and a wild exaggeration (honest!).
From a parent’s perspective, it’s hard to balance not pressuring your dyslexic child too much while pushing them enough that they don’t use it as a permanent excuse to do naff all.
We also push Grace so that she can see what she is capable of. Sometimes she gets amazing results at school, seemingly out of nowhere, so we know she has the ability but she lacks the self-belief. Also, to be fair to her teachers, they do support her much more than she thinks and is lucky enough to be in a school where she has her English lessons with a dyslexia specialist.
The thing that struck me about what she has written is a feeling of being persecuted. I think when you don’t fit the mould it’s very easy to feel like this. So, I think this week is about being aware of how many children must go through their entire school years feeling like the ‘stupid’ ones and asking ourselves what we can do to help them.
Dyslexics have amazing abilities and a much cooler brain that can see things in a way that isn’t hampered by ‘normal’ processing. They’re creative, abstract, strategic, non-conformist, individual and make great entrepreneurs because they see solutions and connections where others don’t. So, I have no doubt that Grace will be very successful – we just have to make sure her years in education are happy and she leaves full of confidence and self-belief.
Over to Grace.
Sometimes people think that dyslexic people don’t have learning parts in their brains or don’t know how to learn, they don’t normally say this in front of dyslexic people but they definitely mean it when they talk to a dyslexic person.
When all my friends at school talk to me they start to talk about how smart they are and how dumb I am then they say in whiney braggy voices “so basically I am in the top set (set one) and you are in set 4 (their stupid made up set) because the dyslexic people are really stupid aren’t they?” then I have to try to explain that dyslexia means that your brain learns in a different way and you find it hard to learn in other people’s way, not you have no brains.
Also at school the teachers give me no support at all they just make me do all of the hard writing work and they get cross with you if you need help and you don’t understand it.
Also I absolutely hate writing, I find it so much easier to work on computers. One of my NICE friends recently introduced me to a special type of pen for dyslexic people which are really good and she gave me one and I use it all the time.
I have to try to explain that dyslexia means that your brain learns in a different way and you find it hard to learn in other people’s way, not you have no brains.
None of the teachers at school help me or support me and not even my own parents support me, they just shout all the time telling me to write long essays and do maths homework (which I hate) also I can’t do as much work as I would like to on mummy’s laptop because she needs to use it all the time and I cant use the big computer in the playroom because I like to do my homework in my bedroom on the laptop and that computer doesn’t really work anyway.
I think that I find it hardest in the group of dyslexic people I do work with because they have had learning support since they were in reception and year one and I have only had learning support for one year because when I had just started at my new school in year 4 nobody new about my dyslexia so I got even worse at working because teachers were very cross with me and so were my parents so I was very depressed in year 4 and I felt like being home schooled. Year 4 wasn’t a very good year for but year five was much better because over the summer holidays I had a dyslexia test and I found out that I am dyslexic and my new teacher was very supportive and so was my dyslexia teacher and also my teacher managed to get me a school laptop to use in lessons which helped a lot.
It is dyslexia awareness week not “let’s bully dyslexic people into doing more work so they will feel unhappy about themselves and pretend to be aware” week. Be kind and supportive to dyslexic people all the time and always let them have praise so that we don’t feel guilty.
I hope you take this advice into your mind so that your dyslexic daughter/son won’t be depressed and feel like they have to take there GCSE’S when they are ten or eleven because that’s how much pressure it feels like when you have learning problems like me.
So turn that frown upside down on your child.
Grace Lawson :)