I have Dyslexia, So What-
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I have Dyslexia, So What?

*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.”

I have Dyslexia, So What

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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This article has 27 comments

  1. Jo Carroll

    Great post Sarah. Really sad to hear how some of your teachers behaved towards you in your early schooling…people often forget that young children’s memories are like sponges, they soak every situation up and it can really effect long term growth and mental well being – I’m sure the teachers themselves forgot about what they said within minutes..such is life? You write so well on your blog, I hope it’s not patronizing to say I’d never have guessed you had dyslexia? My best friend has it and she tells me that ‘spellcheck’ has been a godsend 😉

    • Sarah-Louise Bailey

      Thank you so much! The thing is she was lovely to my parents, my Mum in particular, as she worked at the school, was very proactive in checking up on how I was getting on and she would say to my Mum well she’s struggling a little and would send me home with these extra worksheets, it was a bit like Jekyll and Hyde.

      Blogging has helped a lot, typing the same things day after day some things have finally sunk in and hey if I can’t spell a word I’ll restructure the whole sentence to deal with that.

  2. Gareth Torrance

    This is something that, as a father with a daughter who seems to be a late developer, I am really worried about. Teachers seem to be very…. unaccepting of children who don’t conform to the way they want them to be.

    And, like Jo Carroll, I hope this isn’t patronising, but you write so well! I don’t really understand much about dyslexia (other than what the general population knows), but I’d never noticed you have it.

    • Rachel Craig

      Gareth, I hope you can get the support that your child needs. You may need to seek out information, advocacy, support etc in regards to doing so. Become informed :- Seek out Information, Knowledge, Support Groups, Carers Centre, etc, etc. Your daughter deserves to be all she can be :- Speak to GP (General Practitioner), ask for advice, support, diagnosis etc. Speak to school Teacher etc.

      Best Wishes!

    • Sarah-Louise Bailey

      I think in some ways it isn’t the teacher’s fault, the government make them tick boxes (OK in some cases the teachers make it worse). I think they need to look at the way people learn, for instance, I had a teacher who loved dictation in secondary school and I had no chance! I am much more of a practical learner than a classroom learner and I think perhaps they did to start looking into how people learn in different ways and make different avenues, rather than trying to fit everyone in the same box.

      Honestly, I take it as a compliment – just don’t go and look at my early posts lol. Though I have to thank word, Grammarly, Ash and my Dad for being my checkering the whole sentence works lol.

  3. Rachel Craig

    Sarah :- Well Done! You have made achievements in life.

    I am saddened to read of your experience of a teacher :- Who was a Bully. She misused the power that she had.

    Teachers can make a huge influence on individuals and groups. Seems Credit needs to go where it is due :- Good, Caring, Positive, Empathic Teachers etc.

    Dyslexia does need to be acknowledged and addressed :- As we are often told each individual should be able to reach their potential. In order to do so we all need opportunities.

    My niece was diagnosed with dyslexia as a school child, at a time when dyslexia was being addressed within school education system. Quite a contrast to her Dad, who did not become aware of dyslexia till he was an adult. A tutor at college suggested he may have dyslexia :- As he seemed to make some spelling errors at times. When he did go for assessment in regards to dyslexia :- Diagnosed with mild case of dyslexia. He felt guilty as two out of his three children had dyslexia. I suppose a natural reaction. Though as I said to him, and he knew from his studies of biology / genetics. It was not his fault, he did not choose or cause the condition intentionally. Growing up he had though he just wasn’t great at spelling.

    Dyslexia I believe should be addressed irrespective of a person’s age / stage of life. As support can be so beneficial. Of those I know with dyslexia in employment with no stigma / negative aspect towards them in regards to their dyslexia.

    Yet those who grew up in a time when dyslexia was not known of :- Some have been left believing they lacked intelligence. When what they lacked was diagnosis and appropriate support/s.

    • Sarah-Louise Bailey

      I was very lucky later in my schooling life I had teachers that went out of there way to help me, for instance when I was homeschooled after I came out of hospital, my teacher found out I had been taught the wrong curriculum the night before my exam (my secondary school had been very uncooperative when it came to telling anyone anything). She came round that evening and went through as much as she could with me and while I didn’t get a great score (hey I’ missed most of my GCSE years anyway) I did get did and no one expected that and I put that all on how amazing she was.

      I think it is such a shame it still isn’t really treated fully, part of thinks it should be just a normal thing for kids to be tested in some way for it, as after all, it doesn’t make you unintelligent (many people with it are very intelligent) but it would mean they have the foundation of help from the beginning.

  4. Lauretta at Home and Horizon

    I totally agree, we should seek the help we need as early as possible. We can always make things better if we acknowledge that there is something that needs to be addressed. Glad of what you have become today. 🙂

    • Sarah-Louise Bailey

      Most definitely, it shouldn’t be hidden, but embraced, it doesn’t make you “lazy” and certainly doesn’t make a person unintelligent just means they excel at other things.

  5. Margaret gallagher

    Certainly better to have it out in the open
    Teachers wouldn’t get away with the cruel behaviour you suffered
    Great to speak out and be heard

  6. Melanie

    A great post to raise awareness and I am sure other with dyslexia will appreciate you writing this. Let’s hope posts like this help change attitudes 🙂 x

    • Sarah-Louise Bailey

      Here’s hoping, I think it is such a shame some people still don’t acknowledge it, it doesn’t have to hinder you, especially if you get the right support for your needs.

  7. Lakshmi

    Honest post to raise the awareness much needed!

  8. MELANIE EDJOURIAN

    That is unacceptable behaviour from the teacher. By acting like that they indicate that it is okay to treat you in that way to the other students which is totally wrong. I think it’s great you are helping raise awareness 😉

    • Sarah-Louise Bailey

      That’s why my peers did I think and probably why it took me many years to admit that yes I was bullied throughout school as part of me thought it was “normal” as a teacher had done it.

  9. Jenni

    Wow, if that happened in a school now the teacher would be fired! Jeez. It’s really sad you had to go through all of that. I’m glad it didn’t pull you down entirely because you are a lovely blogger who writes very well.

    My sister also has dyslexia and has always struggled and she wasn’t actually diagnosed until late secondary school. It’s never really bothered her too much. University were very good and she would just ask me and my mum to spell check and check her grammar in essays!

    • Sarah-Louise Bailey

      I have come a long way since my early posts and word / Grammarly / Ash and my Dad are a big help with the bits I’m not so hot on.

      I think schools are getting better at excepting it is a real issue that people do need help for which is good.

  10. Julie Porter

    Beautiful post Sarah, and this one really hits home for me. My husband has severe dyslexia and went through some of the same kinds of instances in school as you have shared. It really made him internalize that he was stupid and it has taken me many years to help him realize that he certainly is not. He is still a terrible speller and frequently needs me to spell things for him, but he is excelling in his dream career after bravely taking the leap to get the necessary training for it. You are a shining example of overcoming an obstacle and proving that you really can do anything!

    • Sarah-Louise Bailey

      I am so pleased he is finally in his dream career! It scares me that it seems to be a normal thing for many teachers to just write pupils off with it and assume they are stupid or lazy 🙁

  11. Rachel

    I think as a society we have learnt more about dyslexia and thankfully it is no longer something to be ashamed of. One of my staff is dyslexic and we have so many aids that are there to help him, his confidence has really grown x

  12. mad tony

    Back in the day I reviewed the CV of someone who was dyslexic and we invited her for an interview. That said I was unimpressed with the recruitment agent who forwarded her CV and who clearly did not read the CV or endeavour to correct spelling mistakes.

  13. Michelle berry

    I am dyslexic and my teachers always called me lazy and said you can’t just look at the first letter and guess the word. It’s so irritating. I still have people say things like how can you not read that… it’s humiliation!
    Great post, I think it is something that needs to be looked in to more in primary school, I have to ask my School to test me, just to find out I should have had help with exams.

  14. bev

    The teacher sounds horrible and in need of a bit of compassion. I had a somewhat similar ex[experience with a teacher though nowhere near as bad as yours. I am lefthanded and in those days, left handed fountain pen nibs had to be ordered. So I was occasionally without one but had a slip from the headmaster saying this was permitted and I was not to be penalised as there were mitigating circumstances.

    Most teachers accepted it – not the history teacher. He would take one look and throw me out of the lesson. I loved history but dropped it as soon as the third year options came around. I never forgave him!

    I never knew you were dyslexic! You do a great job = well done!

    • Sarah-Louise Bailey

      Thank you 🙂 I have people check my posts for me these days which helps, along with word of course haha!

      I sometimes don’t get why some people decide to become teachers, they definitely aren’t very supportive.

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