Her Story: Learning I was Dyslexic at 19 Years Old

My life changed at 19 when I found out that I was Dyslexic

I had spent 19 years of my life not knowing I was dyslexic. When I found out, much to everyone’s surprise, I was relieved. Finding out that I was dyslexic explained many things. It explained why I got bad grades even though I completely understood a subject. It explained why all my life people around me were baffled that I couldn’t write even the most basic words. It explained why when I was 4 years old, I had to go to a speech therapist to learn how to pronounce words like “burger,” and “banana.”

 

Right before I had my test I doubted myself, thinking about how I could have gone 19 years of my life and not realised I had dyslexia, because surely if I have been able to read and sit exams I couldn't be dyslexic. But I was wrong, I am dyslexic, and it turns out my whole life I was just working harder than everyone around me to manage the same things as them. Spelling, writing, speaking, and maths all takes me longer to learn, but I’m not alone in this predicament. One in five people in the world have a language-based learning disability, according to https://www.dyslexiacenterofutah.org/Statistics, and there is even more than that, that are undiagnosed.

 

This is why it is really important to find out you if you are dyslexic because it is the first step in understanding how your brain works. Once you are diagnosed, you stop comparing yourself to everyone around you, and instead, you start to learn how your brain processes information. Once you become aware of your dyslexia it is automatically easier to read and write, because you understand why and how you find reading difficult. Getting diagnosed means that instead of looking around and wonder what is wrong with you because you can’t work as others do; your perspective shifts to focusing on how learning can work for you.

However, in our society dyslexia and other forms of learning disabilities are viewed as a problem for someone. From a young age, we are brought up in an educational environment that defines us as individuals based on how we compare to others. All throughout school, our worth as individuals is rated based on who gets the best grades. There is this idea that there is a ‘one-size fits all’ method of teaching children. This constant comparison is a problem for dyslexics as our brains are set up fundamentally different to most. ‘Simple’ tasks to most people are harder for dyslexics. Because of this constant comparison, it means dyslexics are labeled as ‘slow’ or ‘dumb’. But this couldn’t be more wrong.  Our brains just work differently, not worse. Studies have shown that dyslexia can involve productive traits, such as being more creative than most. ( https://journals.co.za/content/edchange/8/1/EJC31680 )

The comparison- system between students in school damages our self-esteem. The words ‘learning disability’ themselves have such negative connotations. We need to change this; the word disability does not have to be viewed negatively.  Instead of rejecting dyslexic brains (and others) because they are different, we should encourage a child to learn in independent ways. One article stated that “rather than talk about it in terms of learning difficulty, we should be talking about it in terms of learning differently.” https://www.steve-edge.com/outer-thinking-division/dyslexia-and-text/  

Furthermore, there are many successful and famous people in the world who have dyslexia and who prove that having a learning disability doesn’t mean that you are worse. For instance, one of the World’s most famous scientists Albert Einstein had dyslexia. He famously stated that “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” This perfectly sums up the problem with labeling dyslexia in a negative light. There is no problem with having dyslexia, the only problem that comes with dyslexia is when others view it as a setback.

 

This way of thinking about learning disabilities is getting to be old-fashioned. If we change in a more inclusive way, dyslexics won’t have to constantly compare themselves to impossible standards, we will be encouraging children to learn instead of education “not being a thing for us”.

 

Overall, I’m grateful that I found out about my dyslexia as this knowledge has allowed me to stop comparing myself to others. It has helped me grow into myself.  But more importantly, this experience has shown me the errors in the way that society views dyslexia. As a society, we should change our thinking on learning disabilities. If we do this hopefully more people will test themselves for dyslexia and other learning disabilities and not have to feel ashamed about it. Because dyslexia and other learning disabilities are nothing to be ashamed of!

Here are some useful links for anyone who may have Dyslexia:

https://www.dyslexiascotland.org.uk/useful-facts

https://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/

https://www.dyslexiascotland.org.uk/

https://www.dyslexia.uk.net/adults-with-dyslexia/

https://www.dyslexia.uk.net/

 

Images are sourced from Google Images