Life Through Blue Tinted Glasses
Everyone has certain aspects of themselves which can mould and change who they turn into as a person. Some are generous, some are kind hearted, some are hospitable, and some are intellectual. Me? I’m dyslexic. I don’t hate myself for it, to be honest it can be quite funny at times, considering when typing this essay for the first time I spelt both intellectual and dyslexic wrong! However it can also be very frustrating. Dyslexia is much more than having difficulty reading or spelling but there are still, even in this more accepting society, some people who view me as just stupid.
I remember the long, drawn out process of being diagnosed. It shouldn’t have been like it was; my test scores managed to get lost twice… twice! So I sat through that horrible test a total of three times. I was diagnosed in second year and it was a daunting yet strangely exciting prospect. All through primary school I managed to get myself into the top sets for maths, French and language but was in the bottom set for spelling and was also in a lower reading group. I was confused and didn’t understand how there could be such a drop in ability level but just accepted it. It’s a mystery why this was never looked into; maybe my teachers just thought spelling wasn’t my strong point, I really don’t know. I think that is why I was excited: I was finally going to have an explanation.
It was a classically grey, drizzly day in November, I was in Mr Rodgers’ science class (science, now there’s a word I don’t understand! Where is that ‘c’ coming from? That is like putting a ‘z’ in the word English, what is the point?) and there was a quick knock at the door as one of the learning support staff, Mrs Flynn entered. I looked up quickly from my work and tried to lip read what she said quietly to Mr Rodgers. Then sure enough,
“Hayley, can I speak to you outside please?”
I don’t think I even answered, I just stood up and walked briskly to the door trying to avoid the twenty five pairs of eyes I could feel piercing through my head. Once I was out there I took a deep breath and relaxed as she told me that yes, I was dyslexic. It was one of the strangest feelings as I slowly walked back into the classroom contemplating what this actually meant: I wasn’t stupid!
Now, however was the obstacle of how everyone else viewed the diagnosis. There can be prejudices involved with dyslexia. To me being dyslexic shows that I am not stupid and that it is an actual brain problem, but to others who don’t have an understanding of the condition, being dyslexic is just another way of saying unintelligent. This can be hurtful and in some cases humiliating. Not everyone does this intentionally, though. Even some teachers after finding out I was dyslexic treated me like I was a bit simple. I recall a time when I was standing in maths ready to go literally five steps out of the door into the learning support base and I was asked by the teacher if I needed directions or someone to accompany me. Seriously, how dense must they have thought I was?
Dyslexia involves a lot more than people first think. There is more to the condition than being a slow, inaccurate reader and a poor speller. Brain scans of dyslexia suffers have shown that to read a normal passage of text in my own language takes the same brain power and concentration as a foreign person trying to read English. This shows just how much more time and effort it takes to work out what exactly something is saying and what a passage as a whole means – sa terrible n’est-ce pas?
Thankfully, there is now something that can help some dyslexics with reading. I am one of those lucky few who benefit from this technique. As I sit here typing out this essay in my blue tinted glasses (I may not be stupid but I certainly look it with these John Lennon specs on!) the difference and ease of reading is unbelievable. The opticians can now do a test for dyslexics and sometimes a coloured sheet over the top of writing or tinted glasses can make a massive difference and in my case with a blue tint my reading improves by thirty percent. This lifted a massive weight off of my shoulders and for the first time in my life I am looking forward to reading a book cover to cover and enjoying it instead of it turning into a chore.
Another thing most people, including myself until recently, don’t know is that dyslexia affects the short term memory. This is another frustrating aspect as, along with always losing things and having very bad organisational skills, it also impacts on reading. Putting large amounts of effort into reading a passage and trying to understand it ends up going completely down the drain by the time I finish the passage because I can’t remember what I have just read and find it very difficult to work out the gist of an article or passage. Having a short term memory issue also makes studying and revising very challenging. An example of this is if a non-dyslexic person and I were both given a short passage to memorise it would take the non sufferer around fifteen minutes and me, or another dyslexic around two or three hours. That type of problem can also have a large bearing on career choices.
There are some jobs that just do not suit a dyslexic to be able to do. As with any rule however, there are some exceptions for example Kara Tointon and Tom Cruise are both dyslexic but manage to learn and commit to their lines with every acting job they do. The majority of university courses ask that you have higher English at a certain level. Having that requirement can be very daunting for dyslexia sufferers, myself included, as it can determine which course you do, if any. I am quite lucky however as I have been placed in good sets for English and have had very good, helpful teachers and other staff supporting me. I hope to achieve a place at university and study to be a PE teacher. This will take a lot of determination and hard work, both of which I am willing to do. If that doesn’t work out, I could always be a professional chocolate taster – I’m pretty sure I don’t need four years at university for that!
Like I said, I don’t hate myself for being dyslexic it can just be frustrating and can feel like a setback. Even though I get angry with myself for writing stupid things or not being able to spell what might seem like a simple word, I do think that being dyslexic has certainly changed me as a person. If I was just like any normal person I doubt I would push myself as hard as I do, I feel like I am definitely stronger and more determined. However I am also aware that I have to be realistic, I’m not going to be an English teacher; I think the school would get some complaints when I’m spelling things incorrectly to be copied down. I’m also probably not going to be an author or win an award for achieving the highest mark in all of Scotland for the English exam, but I can live with that. I am happy just to play to my strengths, and if all else fails there’s always Dairy Milk.
Fantastic Essay – thanks for reproducing it here.
I have to say that I disagree with Hayley when it comes to career choice – while it may not be as easy for her to write as it is for a “normo” she has an obvious talent for writing. It would be a shame if this was the only piece that gets a public airing !!
Please pass on my compliments on a well written , fun and informative essay.