Dyslexics of the world untie

I still remember the feeling of being in some way different when I was made to read different books to the rest of my class at a young age. The strange feeling of not knowing why this was the case and just simply not understanding, little did I know at that age I was Dyslexic. At then end of the day it’s not a life threatening situation so I cannot complain too much but I will try. Dyslexia first according to the international dyslexia association is “A language based learning difficulty and can refer to a cluster of issues, particularly reading and other language skills such as spelling, writing and pronouncing words”.

Having dyslexia is a challenging issue in day to day life and I can very easily impact the smallest things do we on a day to day basis for example right now I am relaying on spell checking to ensure that you can actually read this and for this to make sense to you, there are more read underlined words on this page than black. Another challenge I face is actually spelling the word “Dyslexia” for it being a word to describe people who have difficulty spelling they’ve picked the most difficult word to spell I’ve ever encountered, like seriously the letter “X & Y”. Who ever decided this word was playing one hell of a joke.

I was told by my teachers I had Dyslexia from around the ages of 7 or 8 and you would swear by there reaction that this was the worst possible thing that could have happened to a child, my spelling and grammar at this age was incredibly behind the rest of my class and I was struggling to read very basic words. At this age you don’t honestly worry about educational things like this there just isn’t a factor like this because we are all mostly too care free, so it really did not affect me at all to begin with. As time progressed, I began to feel the effects as Ronald Davis said, “Our education system relies mainly on reading and writing to convey information and to measure achievement, so dyslexics are often seen as having low intelligence.”

When I read this, I honestly couldn’t believe how hard this hit home and how true it is simply because we base our education on writing and reading people with dyslexics will struggle from the word go, it’s basically like judging how smart a fish is on its ability to climb a tree. You’re not celebrating the tasks that the fish can achieve such a swimming. The education system does not celebrate or aid people with learning difficulties in my opinion they merely place them in a corner by themselves to do work that is different from there class mates and it isolates them from the educational environment, this very situation happened to myself as a child.

I was placed in a corner normally by myself and made to read different books from the rest of the class and surprisingly this did not help me at all to develop because how am I supposed to improve in reading if I cannot read or understand half the words. There was never a different way that teachers showed me how to achieve anything I was never shown graphics, animations or anything to that degree as people with dyslexia respond better to pictures and colours.

They very simply just shouted at me if I did not understand what they were explaining after a while you start to believe your stupid and naturally this will start to affect your self-image and make you feel less capable of what you can actually do. It’s very sad that people who are supposed to building you up are tearing you down but that happens in life it can leave a lot of people who don’t get the proper support to feel discouraged and leave education altogether. Simple because they weren’t cared for properly.

My mother really was my saving grace she took me to a dyslexia tutor after I received no help and I was honestly the best thing I’ve done educationally in my life, I sat in a woman’s study for a few hours a week and I did spelling test and reading a grammar with her and I began to read. Reading is honestly one of the most important factors a person can do in their lives. The amount of knowledge you can gain from ink and paper is incredible, to be honest the excitement I get going into these places is actually a bit sad for a man of twenty two.

The first author I read was Roald Dahl and he transformed my life, for the first time in my life I could read out load and not be afraid of words and how they were pronounced. Without that woman’s help I know I wouldn’t be at university today. At secondary school the same old cycle continued the school not knowing I has dyslexia and me having to do the same dyslexia test over and over again I’ve done that test some man times I could honestly be a co author at this point.

There was no help here either and in sixth year my R.e teacher gave me a telling off about my spelling and I told him I had dyslexia and he didn’t even know so that shows you were schools are at with these issues. There just has to be more done in schools to support people with all learning disabilities other than being put a corner and forgotten about. Things have definitely improved since I was in school as there is a great focus on special needs and other forms of invisible disabilities but as we all know there is very long way to go till, they make use not feel “stupid”.

 

Jordan Arthur is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at: LinkedIn – linkedin.com/in/jordan-arthur-864694173 and Facebook – facebook.com/jordanarthur.71 

Tips to Dealing with Dyslexia at University

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Dyslexia isn’t an issue that can be helped in one certain way, and having suffered with it for my whole academic life I can’t imagine what it would be like not to have it. I am constantly trying different and new things to see what works best for me. So, I have decided to list some things which helped me through studying at university in the hopes that it might help you too!

 

  1. Get in contact with student support as quickly as possibly

In my first year, it wasn’t until after Christmas that I got contacted by student support for help and it can take quite some time for everything to be cleared. My note-taker (scribe) only then started in my second year. So, what I would definitely say is be pro-active about this and contact them and ensure you have an up-to-date physiological report.

 

  1. Print things out

For me, I have learnt that I need everything printed as well as electronic copies. This is especially the case with journal articles – I find it much easier to actually take in what is being said if it’s in a tangible, paper form. It means that I can make notes all over it and highlight certain parts when needed. It also removes the stress of the lecturer moving on to the next slide while you are still writing.

 

  1. Get assignments or coursework done ahead of deadlines

I know this sounds crazy but it’s honestly been so crucial to me. Leaving myself adequate time to proof-read and correct my work makes a big difference to the quality. I also do not deal well with working under pressure either so this helps with that too. I usually try and proof-read a few times, leave it for maybe a day and then come back to it and get family or friends to give it a once over as well.

 

  1. Make lists & stay organised

I know this doesn’t directly relate to being dyslexic and is important for every student but I find with part of my dyslexia making me a slow processor of information, the more organised I am, the more confident I feel and therefore the better I can apply myself in lectures and seminars. I have found that dyslexia does knock my confidence therefore building it up in other ways, i.e being highly organised and aware of what is going on helps to balance this out for me.

 

  1. Don’t be scared to ask for help & communicate with lecturers

It took me until around second year to do this but what I find best is just dropping your lecturer an email at the beginning of the semester to let them know about your dyslexia. I always felt that they would judge my spelling and grammar if they didn’t know (not true at all, just how I felt) and it just makes you feel more comfortable. I would also advise emailing them and reminding them for anything like a class test or assignment or anything which is credited towards your module. Even anything you are having trouble understanding ask the lecturer for help, maybe point you in the direction of other sources you could read or answer any specific questions you have. In every encounter I have had with a lecturer they have been more than willing to help when I have asked.

 

6.Read, re-read and then maybe read again

Honestly this is exactly what I do. I read something once, usually being pretty confused and I’ll try and make notes. Then I’ll re-read it which will help slightly but I’ll still be pretty confused, usually having to use Google dictionary to see what words mean and how to correctly pronounce them. If I am still at this stage and don’t understand it, I will try and find another source on the same topic and give it a read or maybe try and find a short video about the topic. Then I will go back and re-read again the piece, if I’m still struggling I will turn to friends and family and get them to read and then try and have a conversation about it. I simply just try and utilise all the resources we have available to us to help me engage.

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Don’t be put off by dyslexia, you are just as capable as anyone else but simply need to learn to work in a slightly different way and test what works best for you. It will not limit you, look at the image (source: BBC iWonder) on the left as proof. A quote I always refer to is by the actress Whoopi Goldberg who said: “The advantage of dyslexia is that my brain puts information in my head in a different way.”

Niamh Webb is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on Twitter @1234niamh, and on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/niamh-webb-2b5260107/