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Stories by successful dyslexics who IDC have helped over the years


Dyslexia and Me

 

Sharon Adeji, Entrepreneur

 

As a young child I had no idea that I was dyslexic, of all my siblings I was the only one affected.  I often felt different for my lack of academic ability, but I also felt an affinity with my mother as she had difficulty reading.  I always assumed that I was just the same as her.  I now suspect that she was herself dyslexic.  Luckily for me, my parents encouraged me to express my creative side through acting, music and dance and I applied these skills at home as often as I could, but there were times when we all felt frustrated.

 

At school there was little or no understanding of dyslexia and I was often considered to be lazy, weird, stupid or just unreachable by the teachers.  This led me to believe that I was indeed all of these things; I quickly learned to mask my disadvantages in order to avoid this.  By the time I reached secondary school I was quite adept at covering my dyslexia up, and even managed to hand in some good pieces of homework and get decent grades with the help of good friends who I would beg, bribe and cajole into turning my words and answers into acceptable pieces of written work.

 

I continued to struggle with my illiteracy in my early adult life, until the age of twenty one when I walked into IDC.  I had been sent there by my manager. I was working as an admin assistant in a government department.  After undergoing testing I was found to have the reading age of a nine year old, the writing age of a four year old and virtually no spelling age at all.  The people at the Centre were amazed that I had not been diagnosed earlier and were amazed at my achievements considering my very limited skills.  The Centre explained what Dyslexia was and that I was not simply a stupid person.  I have very good verbal skill.

 

I began to attend tuition on a regular basis, going for one hour a week on and off for about four years.  My employer paid for this; again I used my cajoling skills to persuaded them to keep paying for me.  This tuition helped me to improve my literacy skills, at first just getting used to the sounds of letters and how those sounds form words, progressing to the reading of words and eventually sentences.  My reading improved and my understanding of words in general, although my spelling will always be weak, I have developed a form of shorthand that allows me to communicate effectively with others and that I find easy to understand.

 

A major part of the help I had was, the tuition I had with the dyslexia specialist and a counsellor  who helped me to deal with a lot of the feelings I had internalised over the years.  Due to the lack of understanding and information I was given about the condition I had carried around a great sense of shame and anger about being dyslexic.  I would say I was a very angry young woman in those days maybe even more so after the diagnosis, I was angry at myself for being dyslexic and at the world for not realising I was dyslexic.  I had up until that point felt as though I was the only person in the world who couldn’t read and write.  The burden of having to hide it from people had become too much for me.

 

Through the regular counselling sessions I became aware of how Dyslexia had affected my life and how it would continue to affect my life.  I was encouraged to express my feelings of resentment, and to keep a diary to express my innermost feelings.  I began to vent the frustration that I had held inside for so long. Slowly I began to let go of the hurt and move on.  Without help, I would never have truly understood what lay behind my inability to read and write, or to see that I was not alone.  They have helped me to put in place a foundation upon which I have built a future.

 

Since discovering that I was Dyslexic, I left my job in the Civil Service.  I have managed four businesses in hair and beauty, built up a successful property portfolio and have become a qualified teacher and counsellor.  I have also implemented coaching and mentoring schemes in schools and churches.  As a dedicated Christian and active member of my church, I like to give back to my local community and I have found that within my capacity as a counsellor I often come across young people whose lives have been affected by Dyslexia in the same way as mine.  In offering them understanding it helps me on my journey to forgiveness of those who were less understanding of me.  I credit the dyslexia centre with helping me to achieve the success I have had in life as I know my life would have taken a very different road, had I not decided to walk through those doors.  I still struggle with Dyslexia but being aware of my limitations helps me to cope with them.  When driving I use my Sat Nav, rather than reading or following a Map.  I don’t think other drivers on the road would appreciate me taking the time to sound out the words on the road and street signs in order to know if I am going the right way.  My life is still an ongoing journey.   I believe true success is reached when you have achieved all of your goals and I keep setting myself new ones.


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