Today’s blog is by Arran Smith, Dyslexia Advisor for Nessy, who tells a heart-warming story of his journey with dyslexia, from his struggles in school to his charity work with the Leicester Dyslexia Association and working for the British Dyslexia Association. Arran believes that, if you understand your dyslexia and understand your strengths, you can be positive about dyslexia and you can achieve anything.
Difficulties and Dyslexia in Childhood:
Problems with reading/maths
As a severely dyslexic adult, life has not always been easy. I moved schools three times to get the support I needed but I still remember those anxious days at Primary School, sitting in the hall at lunchtime and being laughed at, when asked “what’s 1×1” and answering “2.” It wasn’t any better in the classroom because I would nervously do silent reading and be worry at the thought of being picked to read out loud.
Realising I had dyslexia/low self esteem
When I was in year four, I started to realise I was different. I was given a book that explained how, many books are written for teachers and parents and that this one was for me. It explained why I found reading difficult and why my spelling and handwriting was illegible. When I was nine I was diagnosed as being dyslexic. When my Mum told me, I had a feeling of relief because I felt I was different and I was I happy to be different. However, after a trip to the dentist when I was told I had to have 8 teeth taken out, I started to question why I was different and had very low self-worth. I wondered why couldn’t I write? Why couldn’t I read? Why was my sister better than me when I was older than her?
Making friends and finding my passion
When I moved to my High School I think I had a little bit better support put into place. I never got on well with my peers and I always worked better with older or younger people and I had a teaching assistant next to me in class, which really helped me understand things more. I started to realise what I really enjoyed and that was ICT.
I hadn’t had many friends in Primary School but that changed when I started to attend computer club at my High School because people didn’t judge me. Over the 3 years at High School ICT was definitely a passion of mine. I supported the Head of ICT in helping to develop the new computer room and was awarded a special award when I left the school for my dedication in supporting my team throughout school and this was very special for me. I should also say I spent a lot of time in the Vice Principal’s office, but before you judge me, he had a computer and I was learning to use PowerPoint!
Staying positive and getting support
When I moved to my third school to do my GCSEs the special needs coordinator told me I was the most severely dyslexic they’d had in the school and that she were going to support me- and she did. Throughout my time at this school I had teaching assistants with me sitting in nearly every lesson, and they would write up my notes and copy for me, enabling me to be a little bit of my own and allowed me to use the biggest strength I had which was my voice to ask questions and answer questions.
I managed to find my voice and brought up the courage to start asking and answering questions. Eventually, I left that school with five GCSEs and went on to do a GNVQ and AVCE in ICT.