Dyslexia: when you need spell check to write down your own condition

Want to hear something funny? I’m a dyslexic journalist (trying to learn shorthand – you’d think making the words shorter would help, turns out only if you know how to spell them in the first place).

My brain physically doesn’t organise words or thoughts properly and I want to share them for a living. Will somebody pay me to do that? I may make an editors job hard.

I’m so dyslexic than I need spellcheck to even write the word. Though this piece will remain un-checked. This is dyslexia, red scribbley lines and all.

According to Dyslexia Action 1 in 10 people in the UK potentilly have the disease but most aren’t diagnoised. It seems most people within this statistic try see the funny side.

Dyslexia (which I’m spelling out in my head every single time I type) is a specific learning difficulty that primarily, though not soliely, effects the ability to read and spell.

Other things are also normally affected…

  • Difficulties dealing with the sounds of words, which makes it especially hard to learn to use phonics to read words.
  • Short term memory is often impacted making it difficult to recall names, places and events.
  • Lesser known problems include maths and struggling with co-ordination, these problems don’t effect all but are recorgnised.


Image result for spelling
Is this English? Drive past it quick enough and I couldn’t tell you


I reached the grand age of nineteen before being assesed and diagnoised. I’m not alone in that fact. I didn’t struggle through life pausing at every road sign wondering what the hell it said. I even helped a severe dyslexic and close friend advance their own reading skills. I’ve always been complimented on my writing while laughed at for my poor speling, bad memory and slow processing. I’ve done so many spelling pigs I’ve lost count – I still can’t complete one to this day.

Upon assesment it was found that I process information three and a half times slower than an average person.

Dyslexia isn’t always words swimming around a page. Sometimes, not always. It can be struggling to follow simple directions, wanting to cry when someone asks you a calculation and to just ‘figure it out in your head’. Letters can move about within a word – I’ve seen it happen. Word can be forgotton, lost. Sentences can not make sense and full stops can sometimes not appear until half way down a page when writing. 

At primary school I was taken away from the core literacy classes, for which I was in the top tier, to learn with those who had reading and writing difficulties.

At secondary school I was told to pay more attention to my spelling and organise my thoughts properly.

At college I had weekly one-to-one tutition from a kind teacher who saw my struggles, but also my passion.

Three classes into shorthand at university and my seminar leader asked me to take a dysleixa assesment. I actually laughed because what student takes journalism and hasn’t realised that the struggles they’re having aren’t normal? Apprently alot.

Three others, that I know of, were assesed and diagnoised. Just like me.

Lauren Watkins, 20, was another late diagnosis after years of symptoms…

“I was diagnosed in my first week of college.
I have always struggled in school with reading and writing but my English teachers ignored it and if anything they made joke of it. I was in my AS level history class for a week when my teacher pulled me aside and questioned an essay I had written ‘Childs work’ I think he described it as, as it was so poorly written.
He sent me to the study support team at New College and within weeks I was diagnosed and given the support I needed.
Knowing I could have got a lot better grades at gcse level if I had gotten the help was annoying to say the least. It was difficult being diagnosed, knowing that there is something wrong with your brain and not being able to keep up with your peers takes it toll. And honestly I really did struggle with the reality of it as first.
A lot of self doubt about being stupid and not being good enough and getting so frustrated when I couldn’t do things left me angry and upset and resistant to even attend my classes. I skipped a lot of my first year because I just didn’t have the confidence to carry on. I think there is this assumption that people with dyslexia are stupid and that’s simple not the case.
I would consider myself clever but translating what I know from my brain to paper doesn’t always work out how I want it to. I was told a lot that I would fail and that I couldn’t do it.
I was made fun of a lot for not being able to read and write very well. Not being able to spell or structure sentences correctly people do assume you’re stupid. It is embarrassing to say that I was still having hand writing classes and spelling classes and basic English skill classes up until the age of 19 but I needed it.
A lot of times I wanted to give up but new college had such a strong support team that kept me going and I started to believe in myself, I now have 9 gcse, 3 a levels and a degree. Not to mention I work for an award winning events company and I am currently a site manager at HMP Gloucester running a business and a number of staff.
So guess you do need good handwriting and good spelling to make it in life.
I will probably always struggle with things, there is no cure for dyslexia but having the confidence in yourself is what can get you past it.
I guess is difficult because it’s all about how you take being dyslexic. Ironically I need spell check to spell dyslexia. I used to find it quite funny when I am able to spell words like utilitarianism with no problem but then the ‘must’ took me about 30 minutes to figure out how to spell that. 

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Lauren Watkins, 20
It is quite amusing sometimes, my girlfriend is also dyslexic and sometimes we will be going somewhere trying to follow signs but both read it as something completely different to what it says and get horribly confused but in fits of laugher as well. Especially when you read something rude and then have to think really hard about whether the sign says books or boobs.
I think sometimes you just have to take dyslexia with a light heart because it’s what makes you you. You can’t change it, you just have to live with it and make it your own.”
Lauren asking what all dyslexics do on a day-to-day basis.
Funnily enough, like many people I spoke to, Lauren asked me to double check her spelling and punctuation before publishing.
I’m not even going to do that to my work for this piece. Dyslexia is funny, my dad taught me that the first time he sang: “Old MacDonald was dyslexicc, O-N-F-P-Q”.
Dyslexia is (atleast) twice as common in males rather than females. Though males aren’t always as open about their own struggles. However, sometimes they’re faster to laugh at them.

Loui Sully Parsons, 22, laughs it off on a daily basis… and his sense of humour is pretty spot on.

“I got diagnosed while studying at uni in my throd year.
I have always known that something was up with me and that my retention of information and my spelling was just awful so i thought that i would seek some form of help.
I got diagnosed with both dyslexia and dyspraxia which came at a bit of a shock to me to begin with.
There was a whole team pf people there to help me and and plan. In all honesty, i just wanted to know what was wrong with me so i could finally label it in my head.
I had made it this far in life without knowing, but it did effect my confidence a little bit – what you struggle with and how severe is it My main struggle is my retention of information, spelling and explaining things.
Sully Parsons, 22

Describing something or where a place is has always been hard for me since it feels like my head is doing something differently to my mouth. I wouldnt say it’s too severe, but the spelling and memory thing can be a bit embarrassing at times.

I always joke about not being able to read or spell. If someone says ‘give this a read’ i will always look them in the eye and say ‘i can’t read, i’m dyslexic’ and it’s always funny to see a reaction.
The most important thing i try to remember is this doesnt effect who i am as a person, i’m still me, i just cant remember or explain things well. Sure, it can be embarrassing at times, but if anyone wver does say anything about it i just take it on the chin. After all, it’s just words and i’ll probably forget what they said in about a minuet anyway.
Dyslexia affects everybody differently. I will continue to make jokes whenever possible. Sadly I’ll probably still continue to blush when picked up on my spelling by uneducated proffessinals. What will change is people perceptions of the disease and the support people like myself recieve. Student finance can continue to offer those struggling with fancy laptops and one-on-one tutition but what we really need is earlier diagnosis. Kind laughs at small mistakes, not queries as to ‘why’ we can sometimes not spell a word we learnt just yesterday.
I’m going to continue laughing my way all the way to spell check, you should too.
Featured image courtesy of Flickr.

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