*Just as a warning this post does include swearing, I don't normally swear on my blog, I have in this post, but used in a contextual manner, I feel I cannot tell this story without including it.
Spelling and grammar have always been my nemesis, but I remember vividly the point it changed from hard to really affecting me. I was in year 3 and for some reason, I could do nothing right when it came to my teacher. I have always been an avid reader and when reading in my head my comprehension is above average, reading out loud not so (ah yes dyslexia is an unpredictable beast) and this was the first thing my teacher picked upon. One of her favourite lines to me was; “if you can read the word, you can spell it.” As a child being told that by a teacher, I assumed it must be true, but why couldn't I do it? Why could I easily read a word in my head but not spell it?
As my time in year 3 went on, the teacher became crueller, I kept everything she did to me to myself, assuming no one would believe me, and of course, the way she treated me in front of the class lead to my peers making fun of me as well.
I remember sitting next to a someone I classed as a friend, and he decided to have a bit of fun with me; “Sarah how do you spell ‘I', of course, I said “I”, the response came back “not that kind, this kind” pointing to his eye, I responded “eye” and he replied “no not that eye, ‘I'”. I got upset and perhaps shouted back. I got removed to sit at the teacher's desk for being a disruptive influence. Back then I was upset with the friend, looking back now I realise he was just following the teacher's behaviour towards me.
Another incident that stands out is a spelling test, we were asked to spell ‘shirt', as I and am sure many others have done, I wrote ‘shit'. I was 7 years old, while I might have heard the word shit, I didn't know what it meant and I certainly had no idea what I had written on the paper that I assumed was shirt was such a bad word. My teacher instead of thinking it was a child's mistake, blew her top. How dare I swear on purpose on a spelling test, how dare I be so rude towards her, then came the worst, “I bet it was you who vandalised they playground equipment with those words.”
The third incident that stands out as having an effect on me, was being sent to sit in the back off the class in the craft area, she would often place me here alone, or at her desk away from everyone else. However, on this particular day she placed me at one end of the large craft table and my 2 friends at the other. Of course being out of the main room, the other two have a bit of a giggle, though I was too far away to participate so I put my head down and got on with my work. I got stuck on one part and got up to ask for help, what happened next was utterly humiliating. She marched me back to the table and scooped up the work my friends should have been doing, in a loud voice that billowed around the classroom she screeched “Sarah, I know you are a lazy child, but there is no need to make your friends the same, chatting to them and distracting them, look they have done nothing.”
These, of course, are only a few of the incidents that happened that school year, one which was non-work related was when I was on crutches, she made me walk around the classroom and to next doors class without them, as there wasn't enough space. Of course, I started throwing sickies as the thought of school petrified me and in the long term, I am very sure she was in part why my mental health took a large decline, as she left me so very self-conscious and self-critical.
In the years to come it wasn't until we moved and I was in my second secondary school anyone wanted to admit I might be dyslexic and need extra help and it wasn't until I was 21 and starting to study at the Open University I was to finally find the extent of my dyslexia, which not only included spelling and grammar (phonics pah I can't do them at all), maths and of course my ability to read out loud, oddly the only thing I excelled in was reading to myself.
I guess the reason I am telling this story, as well as needing to as I've held it in for so long, is that I want to show you that you can do whatever you want. I'm awful at spelling and grammar, yet here I am having come on leaps and bounds in it since I started blogging and actually making a living from the written word.
Hey year 3 teacher, look at me now!
Don't let dyslexia hold you back and if you think your child may have it push for them to get the help they need, it really can make all the difference, just knowing why you struggle and that you aren't lazy.
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