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Living with Dyslexia

Mar 27 2017

Living with dyslexia has been a normal life for me. I knew something was different from high school when I just couldn’t “get it”most days, when the rest of the class “got it” straight away. I used to struggle with everything, maths, languages, presentations and spelling. I felt that I had missed a previous lesson and was always one step behind. After 5 minutes in a class it was game over. I was lost and annoyed.

My dyslexia was never confirmed or even tested because I think for a host of factors. One way around it was to be sneaky and copy off my best mate. The other factor was that I worked hard… I wanted to go places even at an early age, I just battled to get by.
Fast forward to 5 years and I made a decision to get a degree, I was chasing a dream of becoming a qualified nutritionist but I knew it was going to be hard going back into education. I set myself a goal of getting a first class with honours in Humam Nutrition, I wanted the best mark possible.

I remember attending my first lecture, everyone had sat down with a pen and note book in front of them and then they began writing “notes”. They were writing line after line while the lecturer was talking about a topic I knew nothing about. I knew there and then I had to change my way of learning otherwise I would be a sinking ship and my dream would never be achieved.
So what did I do?
Firstly, I got tested. A test I should have done 10 years ago. I still remember how hard the test was, I was drained by the end of it, mentally. The conclusion from that test, I was definitely dyslexic, in the words of the examiner; “Oh you indeed have dyslexia, you have it bad”.
Now it was confirmed, it was also confirmed that, I cannot learn and take in information like everyone else. I have to use different learning methods. Below are my three key methods, tricks and tips I use to allow me to build my knowledge and keep learning everyday.
1. Get yourself a dictaphone
It took me a long time to work out how much information I take on board if someone just tells me something, I can take in the information, absorb it, remember it, then action.What a dyslexic cannot do is listen to information while writing down action points, the original information gets diluted. Listen to the individual and make them the most important thing in the room. Having a dictaphone means you can record them and take that information in over and over again until you memorise it. I used to take a dictaphone to every lecture, I was always the first person in the room, sitting on the front row. I just used to sit there and listen. If I didn’t understand anything, I asked a question and had it all recorded.When it came to revising for exams, I used to go for walks with my dictaphone and re-listen to every lecture, In my last year of Uni I used to walk for hours a week. I used to think, if the lecturer had not talked about a topic, then that topic would not be in the exam. This allowed me not to learn pointless topics, just because there was a book on it. Having a dictaphone really allows you to dial in on the important information.
2. Stop reading a text books and start looking at alternative learning methods such as YouTube, Conferences, Audio books & Networking.
Being dyslexic means I struggle to read. Don’t get me wrong, I can read and would love to read more however the letters on the page love jumping around. This sounds strange but when a dyslexic reads anything on your usual white background, the letters like to bounce. I do not know why this happens, it just makes reading very difficult and tiring.Since leaving school, I can count on one hand how many books I have read, however I have listened to numerous best sellers. YouTube has been a fantastic tool to learn a whole host of new information in a fun and interactive manner. There is a video on everything, it helped me a lot in my final year in university.
3. Mind Map Everything
I had these everywhere, I had them on the fridge, next to the kettle and on the back of the bathroom door. Each topic got its own Mind Map. Each mind map was used to emphasise the key points. These key points would be remembered to allow further discussion in a presentation or exam.Dyslexics are very visual. I used to draw awful pictures but these pictures helped me remember the placement of words.

4. Practise Presenting
Dyslexics are known for not being very good presenters and definitely should not be made to read out aloud in any situation without warning.
To this day I still hate and struggle with reading out aloud however I am becoming a fan of presenting through forcing myself to practise and make the presentation my own. When I present I will use visuals for the group to focus on something else other than me reading information at them. Videos, leaflets and props are a great way to get your message than standing at the front of a room reading information to people.
Living in a non dyslexic world and workplace can be awkward at times but I find having dyslexia allows me to see things in a different light, it allows me to break away from the norm and push myself even harder to learn.