Everyone laughed at me in drama when I had to admit that I couldn’t tell me left from my right. We were doing an acting exercise where person A is wearing a blindfold and person B directs them around the room. We weren’t being graded on it, but I couldn’t have felt more stupid.
One time during a practise science exam, my teacher called me retarded because although I was in the top set, I couldn’t read the question. I was 15 years old. He humiliated me in front of the whole class and I had to do everything I could to stop myself from crying.
I’m not telling you all of this to complain about how terrible school was – in fact, nerdy as it sounds, I loved school. Well, I liked the learning part of it, not so much the exams. I’ve always been an above average student; I was in top set classes for maths, English and science. But these events, and others like them, made me believe I was stupid.
When I was around 12, one of my teachers suspected I had a learning disability, but I was hitting my grade targets, so no one did anything about it. After a while, I started doing my own research because I wanted to know why no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t seem to learn things in the same way as everyone else. It destroyed my confidence and even at 17 I’d get frustrated to the point of tears because I didn’t understand what I was being asked to do and there was no one to help me.
Finally, at the age of 19, I got my diagnosis – dyslexia. After years of suspecting something was wrong, I had a screening with a specialist and hours of different tests later, he told me what I needed to hear. It wasn’t my fault that I didn’t learn like other people, my brain worked differently, and that was okay.
It might not seem like much, but it’s the first step to rebuilding my self-confidence. I’m finding ways of doing things that work for me, and hopefully that will mean I’ll be a lot less stressed. Dyslexia is something I’m always going to have, but being about to learn about it and how it affects me, means that it can stop being a road block and might even turn into somewhat of a gift.
“Being dyslexic can actually help in the outside world. I see some things clearer than other people do because I have to simplify things to help me and that has helped others.” – Richard Branson