Today I read a fascinating but extremely realistic article from travel writer Joe Marshall about his experience of having dyslexia, the attitudes that he came across at school and his surprise at becoming a professional.... er writer!
Dyslexia is a gift, or so I keep hearing. It’s to be unlocked and embraced. I can’t really argue with that. Although I think addressed would be a more appropriate term. You see I’m someone who has been diagnosed as mildly dyslexic as both child and adult. And I find the whole gift thing a bit hard to swallow.
I’ve always felt embarrassed to say I’m dyslexic. Not incase people think I’m thick but because I feel like I’m making an excuse. As if I’m not dyslexic enough because I don’t really fit into the most obvious category. I’m a voracious reader and have been since my teens. It’s tiring and I can sometimes I drift off, read page after page without taking in a word but that often depends on the writing. If I’m reading black text on pure white the noise can be a bit overwhelming and sometimes it looks like a 3D image. But it’s never really been too much of a problem. It’s everything else that’s the real nightmare.
I was about eight years old when I was first diagnosed. I was falling far behind at school, suffering from frequent and debilitating migraines and depression. A child psychologist came to the school to see me and diagnosed me as mildly dyslexic. A term I still don’t completely understand. He sent letters to my parents who sent them to the school head, Mr Hall, who denied receiving them. So they sent them again. He denied all knowledge once more. Around this time my parents split up. I moved into a new house with my Mum and little brother. Mum and Dad had a lot going on with five kids and a divorce, so I guess my problems just got a little lost in the move. I stayed at the same school where I continued to receive no support. I told my form teacher, an old battle-axe called Mrs Orm who was on the verge of retirement. “You’re not dyslexic,” she said, “you’re stupid.” It was the mid 80’s and these teachers were old. I didn’t tell my parents about that, I wasn’t the sort of kid to go home and talk about what was going on at school, whether it was good or bad. I just shrugged my shoulders and bottled it all up. I never brought dyslexia up with another teacher again.