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Dyslexia and ‘em’ (me): My Experience With Dyslexia

Dyslexia and ‘em’ (me): My Experience With Dyslexia

Maeve O' Sullivan writer, Maeve O’ Sullivan shares her personal experience with dyslexia.

Let’s get down to the facts. Dyslexia is a learning disability that effects individuals in how they identify sounds, letters and words. Commonly referred to as a reading disability, it affects the area of the brain that processes language.

Some common misconceptions about people who have dyslexia…

Do people with dyslexia have lower intelligence?

Nope! Dyslexia does not affect one’s intelligence. In fact, many famous intellects had dyslexia such as Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Charles Darwin, Agatha Christie and even Bill Gates! If a person’s intelligence appears to be affected in comparison to their peers, more often than not it is because they are not adapting their learning habits to one that suits their brain processing system.

If dyslexia interrupt ones reading, does that mean your vision is an issue?

Again, nope! Your sight is a separate organ from the brain. While your eyes may pick up the words on a page perfectly, it is how your brain processes the information it is consuming that can be an issue.
Over 450,000 people in Ireland have dyslexia, meaning on average 3 children in every classroom have dyslexia  according to the Dyslexia Association of Ireland. While medically referred to as a ‘’diagnosis’’, there is nothing ‘wrong’ with an individual with dyslexia.

There is simply no room for shaming in this conversation!

I was fortunate to have discovered I had dyslexia when I was seven years old. From here, early intervention and specialised 1:1 learning resources in primary school benefited both my education and my life. However, due to long waiting lists and a high cost for Psychologist evaluation, people can be waiting a long time for a dyslexia confirmation. This can lead to children being prevented from learning accommodations, thus a knock-on effect on their education.

What does dyslexia look like for me?

No two people are the same and there is no exception to dyslexia. For me, reading sentences may take longer as I ‘decode’ the letter and word order. I may have to re-read a sentence ten times or more, and that’s okay! In primary school, the weekly spelling tests were a Friday morning nightmare as week after week I received 3/10s. Phrases thrown around such as ‘just sound it out’ from teachers were equally disheartening as I struggled to connect sound to letter. This meant more often than not, my pronunciation was miles off.
A vivid example for me when when I discovered make up brand ‘Essence’ and automatically registered the pronunciation as ‘Ess-i-c(k)its’. Safe to say I got a land when I heard the correction. When reading or relaying information, I may accidentally process the wording backwards or jumbled. For example, analogue clocks displaying 15:10, may be recalled by me as ‘quarter past ten’.
These are just a handful of experiences for me, and perhaps others. If you can relate to me and you may or may not have a clinical diagnosis for dyslexia, perhaps the following tips may help.

1. Spellings

When I began learning French in Secondary school, vocab was proving very difficult. How I combated this was retyping and colour coding the words. The -ed or -ing  coded in red or blue. And by breaking down syllables by colour such as ‘Mic-ro-phone’. Don’t be afraid to play around with fonts that suit you. I struggle to process ‘comic sans’ yet ‘times roman’ works best for me. The vision recall will help when it comes to the spelling test!

2. Preparation

While it might seem unfair that you have to put in an extra bit of work, it will pay off! If you are reading a book in school as a class and you know you may be called on to read a chapter, take time the night before to read ahead. By the time it comes to reading it as a class, you have now taken the time to process the words, but also the reread in class will further solidify the information.

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3. Draw it out

You may be like, “Eh, how are drawing and words related?” Well they most certainly are when it comes to maths! The maths syllables in schools now includes ‘everyday equations’ when processing maths exercises. For example, it is no longer 3+5=8, but rather ‘Mary has three apples and Tom has five. How much fruit have they between them?

For someone with dyslexia, this may prove difficult to comprehend. Take your scrap paper and draw out three apples/lines to represent three. Same with the five. By concreting a visual for your brain to identify, it will make for an easier process! Dyslexia is not about the shortcuts, it’s about breaking down the process to mould to you.

When it comes to dyslexia, it is so important to remember that this is not something to be ashamed of or feel the need to hide it. If you had a broken hand and needed a splint to support it, there would be no shame on displaying it. Same goes here!
Equally important is to remember to never shame others for their learning habits or processing systems.

Two words, six letters:  B E    K I N D
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