Dyslexia and me

Written by Izzy Slipper, 25.

For me, this article is going to be hard to write.

Not because the subject causes me angst or is too difficult. It’s because fundamentally I have a disconnect between my thoughts and what gets written down. I once had an English teacher say to me: "If only you wrote how you spoke, your grades would be excellent".

I told her that was precisely the issue - because I’m Dyslexic.

So what does this mean? According to the NHS Dyslexia is "...a specific learning difficulty, which means it causes problems with certain abilities used for learning, such as reading and writing. Unlike a learning disability, intelligence isn't affected".

Like many other neurological conditions it’s a very much a spectrum with all cases being slightly different. For me it means my spelling is laughable and books scare me. I’d like to take this moment to thank whoever is proofreading and spell-checking this article.

As a child I was tested pretty early and didn’t question when I, who considered myself incredibly smart, was placed in ‘special learning’ classes with two other boys in my year. My parents were nurturing, at primary school I always felt I was a ‘different kind of smart’. I found it a lot easier to read music than books. Where my brothers could spell, I could create.

For secondary school my brothers both got into the grammar, while I went to the local comp. We’d moved at a weird time, I knew I’d had to spend at least year 7 there. The expectation was for me to take the 12+ and continue my education at the grammar with my brothers. But, I failed. I stayed at my current school, the lesser school in my family's eyes. Being the sibling that didn’t get in is a really good way to make you feel incredibly stupid.

When people don’t like an element of themselves they try to hide it. From submitting video essays at uni, getting my siblings to check my work, and learning to quickly restructure a sentence because I couldn’t work out which ‘were/where/we’re’ was correct, I became a master at trying to hide, what I considered, my stupidity from the world.

One particular boss ‘discovered’ I was dyslexic when I told him. I was made to feel like I’d hidden a conviction on my application and questioned whether I was indeed suitable to reply to his emails. It got to the point where sending emails gave me anxiety, constantly scared I was going to be called out as an idiot.

It was at this peak of feeling like an imposter I took time to reflect. My realisation, I had spent my whole life trying to avoid something I had no control over. My innate inability to not be able to spell can’t be cured, embracing is the only option. And that’s what I’ve done.

There are so many good things about being dyslexic - we tend to be artistic, incredibly creative thinkers and great at problem solving. Scrabble is hilarious when you openly admit that you’re not sure how to spell a word, or if it is in fact even a word. Best of all it’s made me love myself a little more and appreciate that just because you can’t see someone might be struggling, doesn’t mean they aren’t.

This contribution was written by Izzy Slipper, 25. Visit her profile here to find out more about the voice behind the words.