I hope you are well and enjoying Reading Week!
This week I thought I would talk to you about something a little more serious than what’s in my uni bag or what I eat in a day. So grab a cup of tea and a biscuit and get comfy, for this week I thought I would chat to you about dyslexia.
Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty that causes problems with particular abilities used for learning such as reading or writing. It is estimated 1 in every 10 people in the UK have some form of dyslexia, including me. So, I thought I would share with you my story and maybe help some of you who may also suffer with it.
When I moved into senior school and began doing summer exams, I was aware that my memory wasn’t the best and so would always have to go over and over and over things before they stuck in my head. I found I would have to start revising way before all my friends but I just thought that was how my brain worked. I don’t want to toot my own horn or anything but I always did fairly well in any tests and exams and my reports were always good. I was a hard worker who was always well organised with my only major academic flaw being that I tended to use small words as I struggled to spell more academic words.
Before we started our GCSEs, the whole year took an online test to check for dyslexia. A few girls were selected but I wasn’t, so I carried on my study as usual. Although I felt I could have used the extra time as I was often left rushing to finish the last few questions, I was very happy with my GCSE results, coming out with two As and seven Bs and getting into my first choice college.
At college, I took on three very heavy writing subjects of English Language/Literature, Business Studies and History and found that I was a lot slower than my friends when taking notes or writing during timed tests. My history teacher picked this up and recommended I go to the learning support team to be tested, so I did. It is here where I was told I had a type of dyslexia where my memory, my ability to process information and my writing speed are affected. They explained to me how I would need to use a laptop, have extra time during exams and attend weekly learning support sessions.
If I’m being completely honest, I didn’t fully understand what dyslexia was and I did feel as though I was stupid. However, it did make the way I work make sense. I always tell people I have a memory like a fish and now I know why… I always had to study twice as hard as everyone else and now I know it’s because I take longer to process the information I am learning/reading and I now know why I stick to basic language within my work.
After finishing college and getting into my first choice uni, I was a little worried about how this may affect me, as I know the level of work expected was to rise. But in week 2/3 one of the ladies from the Academic Resource Centre (ASC) came to talk to us in graduate success and I knew where I could go for help. I made an appointment, explained my situation and she instantly understood me and how I work. Since then, I have seen her weekly for the past three years for help on understanding my assignment briefs and proof-reading my work whilst helping to expand my vocabulary.
Last summer I took another dyslexia test in a bit more detail to help out one of the team with her training and was able to use the results to get further help from the government. I was able to get some amazing programs on my laptop that help me take notes in lectures, record my lectures and have the ability to highlight and save key parts. I was also given a reading ruler for both on screen and off which has helped massively with my reading! A system to help me research online was also provided along with a system that helps with reviewing my work checking spelling, punctuation and grammar and allows me to listen to my work aloud. I am so grateful for these tools and can’t believe the difference they have made to my studies!
Since being diagnosed in 2015 I have learnt that just because you have a form of dyslexia doesn’t mean you are stupid. It doesn’t mean you can’t get high grades and it doesn’t mean you can’t do anything you want to do. It simply means you need to work a little harder and get a little help. It can be a little frustrating when some people do it the night before and get similar results, but unfortunately that is how things work.
I am also more aware of how common it is and am no longer embarrassed talking about it. So, for those of you who are struggling with dyslexia whilst at university, I would definitely recommend going to the ASC as they can help you out with your work and give you tips and tricks on revision and writing techniques. Don’t be afraid to talk about it and don’t be nervous to ask for help.
If you do want to find out more about dyslexia you can have a look on the NHS website or you are more than welcome to leave a comment and I can help as best I can!