My Life Before My Dyslexia Diagnosis
My life before my dyslexia diagnosis was hard. I use to really struggle with academia, and I still do, if I’m honest. I came up with a number of ways to try and hide my problems so to not appear stupid. One of which was to make it appear like I was never actually trying, which became less of an act as time went on and more of a reality.
When I first started thinking about writing a blog, I knew there would be a hurdle I’d have to deal with: my dyslexia. So I figured I would start with this first and wrote a section in my About Me. If you’ve read my post “The Difficulties of Meeting My Partner” you’ll also be a little aware of how my dyslexia affects me. So let’s not waste each others time by trolling me about my dyslexia, and instead, offer ways of helping me to improve my reading and writing, if you know tricks to overcome the drawbacks I suffer due to my dyslexia. I am always looking for ways to improve my writing.
I don’t take in information as well as other people, and it can take a little longer for things to suddenly click into place and make sense to me. Being talked at by a teacher or a lecturer just isn’t an effective way for me to learn, so I would just talk to those around me instead. Whilst in primary school, in my third year as a junior, this would take the form of telling people around me stories I’d made up, which would often get me in trouble for talking. Obviously, I didn’t know it at the time I was struggling with an information processing problem, but this was because of my dyslexia.
I struggled throughout school and gave up trying completely, in every aspect of my schooling. Even now I don’t like to be seen trying at anything if I’m not sure I can do it. Often it wasn’t always down to my problems, sometimes it was down to the poor choice of teaching the teachers chose.
When I went to sixth-form one of the subjects I decided to study was A-Level Law. My law teacher decided to never spell any of the new words to my vocabulary in full, always writing on the board in shorthand, and there was just a tonne of Latin.
Making notes in this class was just impossible because I had no idea how to spell most of the words used. Eventually, I just spent most of my time in this class asleep, until I finally decide to drop the A-Level. This was very difficult for me because I always finished what I started. Making this the first time I’d ever truly given up on something I’d started, becoming a turning point for me.
Another issue with my information processing is that I constantly have to reread stuff in the hopes I’ll pick up the information from the text at some point. Because I don’t process information very well when reading, I can often read the same line again and again by mistake, and I often won’t notice until after I’ve reread the line in its entirety. I can also read page after page and not know anything about what I’ve just read, causing me to read it all again in the hopes something will stick the second time around.
I have terrible problems with spelling, and in my second-year of juniors at primary school, by chance, a friend I sat next to also had spelling issues. They would be able to spell the longer and more complex words I struggled with (I have problems with phonetics) and they would struggle with the shorter words (no idea why).
So when we had to stand up and spell words out for our teacher, they’d help me with the longer words and I’d help them with the short words. Unfortunately, our second-year juniors teacher was a right piece of work and punished me, and only me, in a brutal way for helping each other with our spelling. If you want to know more about this evil teacher then read my #ChildrensMentalHealthWeek inspired blog post.
I learnt a couple of ways to try and hide my bad spelling. One way was to have a basic handwriting style that was just messy enough that I could hide my bad spelling in it, although most the time I can’t even read it myself because of how bad it is it ha ha ha.
I also learnt to write in more detail to get around the fact I couldn’t spell the actual word I wanted to use: basically describing the single word I wanted to use, but couldn’t, because I couldn’t spell it. This habit didn’t really become an issue until I went to university, whereby I had to constantly write within a word count.
A decade later and I’m still struggling with condensing what I want to write due to this over detail writing habit I created. I’m starting to get better at condensing my writing as my grammar skills have slowly started to improve, and hopefully will continue to do so through my efforts to write for my blog.
Besides learning to hide my bad spelling in handwriting I can barely read myself, I also went through a phase of writing really small as well. The things we’ll do to try and hide our difficulties rather than reaching out for help will never cease to amaze me. But times have changed a lot since I was in school, now theirs a lot of help available, so seek it out, you won’t regret it.
One of the most annoying problems my dyslexia causes me is that I can spell the same word a million different ways and be wrong every time. This even happens with words I know how to spell, simply because I get tripped up by the phonetics.
One of the worst areas for me to deal with is exams. This was partly due to my difficulty in trying to organise my thoughts. As such, I had to reorganise everything after I’ve written it in order for any of it to make sense. My exam work used to be littered with arrows and symbols to connect all my work together, that, combined with my crappy handwriting to try and hide my poor spelling must have made marking my exam papers a nightmare for the marker, ha ha ha.
This was a huge problem with having to write by hand in my exams, but it’s not much of an issue now, thanks to computers. Information often comes to me in bits and pieces, and I often get new insights randomly, so I tend to jot it down as it comes and then organise it afterwards to make sure it flows properly and it makes sense. A much easier and neater task with a computer.
I also couldn’t find a way for me to process information effectively in revision for my exams, so I just never bothered trying to revise. I can read pages and pages of information and I may as well have sat and looked at the wall for all the information I was able to take in.
Okay, this one is less “before” my dyslexia diagnosis, and happened not long after I was diagnosed. Not long ago I went on holiday with my partner, my first holiday in over two decades. The problem was that my partner kept trying to make me talk to people in the local languages, which wasn’t a pleasant experience.
Because my dyslexia manifests itself in phonetic issues, and because of my anxiety disorders, I struggle with such interactions. Hell, I struggle to try to understand what people are saying when they’re talking in English if they have a strongish accent. I just can’t distinguish the different sounds that make up the words they’re using.
Not Living Up To Potential
I was constantly told I was wasting my potential, but there was nothing I could do about it as a child because there just wasn’t the support available. I also hadn’t figured out how to adapt to my learning problems, instead just giving up on trying because of the situation. It didn’t help that the standard for teaching has reminded the same, to talk at the students to pass on information.
No one is interested in teaching in a way that was suited for everyone’s needs, it was just the traditional educational way or the highway, and I’d given up on traditional education because I couldn’t connect with it, and thus my education suffered because of it.
I felt stupid, but at the same time, I knew I wasn’t stupid. I was above average in all IQ areas where spelling wasn’t a factor, like spatial ability tasks. It’s a weird place to find yourself in.
I always thought there was something wrong with me due to the difficulties I was having, and this had a significant impact on my education and how I behaved in school. It was never picked up during my school or sixth form years. Nor was it pickup while I was doing my degree, even after talking to my tutor to be allowed to skip my lectures so I could teach myself the subject instead. Which I was actually allowed to do
So if you feel you may be suffering from a learning difficulty, seek help and support as soon as possible, it’ll make a huge difference to your life.
Support And Further Information
For more information about dyslexia, please try visiting some of these helpful sites: