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#MyDyslexiaStory: Alex Robertson

Thursday 6 January 2022

I was diagnosed with dyslexia and other learning difficulties in 2017. I was studying on a college course, where I struggled with reading academic papers, essay writing and memory recall. It was my college tutor who picked it up. I had struggled terribly in school and in a lot of my jobs, but everything started to make sense following my diagnosis to my family and myself.

“People with Dyslexia are incredibly creative, determined and bright.”

Getting tested and diagnosed was the best thing that happened to me. I started to understand myself more and gain confidence, learning about my strengths and working style. People with Dyslexia are incredibly creative, determined and bright. At school and through work, I didn't really know what was wrong with me, why I struggled, made mistakes and forgot things. I carried a lot of shame. Unfortunately teachers were not so understanding or kind. It was a hard time and I am still processing these experiences. Also, people with disabilities are more likely to be bullied in the workplace than those without a disability. This behaviour affects mental health. I have learned to stand up for myself. What I realise now, is that there is nothing wrong with me. I am an individual with individual learning styles and I also have many strengths.

A lack of understanding and awareness

I received very little support at school and in work as when I was young there seemed to be a lack of awareness and understanding. I was diagnosed in my forties. However, my parents never gave up on me and continued to help me. Following my diagnosis, being given more time for work tasks helps me as I need time to process. In addition to this the right support during college helped me to develop and succeed. However, there is still a lot to do as ableism in the workplace for e.g. needs addressing.

Determination pays off

During my training to be a counsellor, I always remember my first placement supervisor telling me that I may not be able to practice because of dyslexia. It had taken a lot to go back into education, so this destroyed the little confidence I had. However, with the right support in place, and the determination dyslexia has given me, I was able to tackle the academic side and demonstrate my strengths in the clinical setting. It took me a long time, as I needed reasonable adjustments in place and I also needed to work on my own mental health. But it was my greatest honour to contribute to the support given to children including those with learning difficulties. I went onto pass my course and hope to start working in this field in the future.

My advice for someone who has recently been diagnosed with dyslexia:

Dyslexia is a gift. Don't see it as a negative but an opportunity to learn about yourself as an individual to access the gifts and strengths you possess. Never give up. The most important thing for me has been to know my rights as an individual, to access support and to find the courage to stand up for myself and the determination to keep going.

What I have found is that with hidden disabilities, sometimes not being able to see the disability can lead to disbelief. People with hidden disabilities can also become hidden and silent. A hidden disability such as dyslexia is real. A person with dyslexia should not need to struggle to find their place in society but be fully integrated and valued.