As a young child I was inquisitive and fascinated by the mysteries of the World around me. I started school brimming with excitement and ready to learn.
This didn’t last. I encountered a problem: Strange squiggly shapes called letters. These somehow represented sounds which blended together into words. My ability to crack this baffling code became the measuring stick by which my success was defined.
Everyone else seemed to learn to read with ease. Everyone except me. Feelings of humiliation and failure hung over me like a shadow and my motivation for learning quickly dwindled. By the time I started secondary school I was severely depressed and anxious.
Some children benefit more than others by having a label such as ‘Dyslexia’, but for me this diagnosis was the first step to restoring my self-worth and confidence.
It was explained to me that I was intelligent, however my brain processed information differently and that I needed to learn in a specific way. I learnt that this difference can be a wonderful gift and that many famous inventors and artists were Dyslexic too. My brain is not faulty, but ‘wired differently’. This enables me to see things from unique perspectives and opens up the potential for great creativity.
The diagnosis also led increased support and I received help from a specialist Dyslexia teacher.
Most interventions I had experienced until this point focused intensively on the things I found difficult. She took the opposite approach by temporarily removing the demands to read and write. Notes were recorded for me in class and technology was used wherever possible to make things easier. With reading removed as a barrier, I quickly rose from the bottom of the class to the top.
My confidence and motivation were reignited. It was only at this point that attention was turned to teaching me the mechanics of reading. The correct method for this is unique for every learner.
It started with changing how I felt about reading. At first I could not imagine ‘reading for pleasure’, but I slowly began to realise that reading opened up an endless goldmine of fascinating information. It also allowed me to create whole worlds inside my head where I could get lost in my imagination.
My passion for learning grew and I went from strength to strength. Arrangements were made for me to take my exams with a reader and scribe. This allowed me to demonstrate my true potential and I obtained a place to study Physics at University.
If you, or your child, struggle with reading don’t give up hope. There are so many helpful resources available. Search for the ones that will help you. Try to change your relationship with words. If you struggle to write things down, try expressing yourself through art or music. Technology is great for taking the pressure off. Don’t allow words to define you. They are your tools to discover and create with.
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