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#MyDyslexiaStory: Mary Thornton

Tuesday 12 April 2022

I struggled with words for as long as I can remember and knew that I was different to others because of this. I was first diagnosed at the age of 26. Before this no one ever really mentioned that I could be dyslexic, I was just labelled as slow, thick, stupid!

Understanding gives empowerment

Before I was officially diagnosed the lack of understanding from others around me made me feel stupid and that I was unable to learn, as a result, I developed low self-esteem. But once I understood that there was a reason why I learned differently from the majority of people around me, I became more empowered. I left school with no qualifications, but I now have a BSc Degree in Physiotherapy and run my own business and teach others. Anyone can learn we just need the right support and direction.

Getting support

Unfortunately due to a lack of understanding about dyslexia from the wider community, I didn't receive any formal help but as an adult I’ve had amazing support from my mum & husband.

“I bumbled along school & work trying to find ways to avoid the written word”

I was 26 when I was first diagnosed as having dyslexia. Before this time I bumbled along school & work trying to find ways to avoid the written word. At school I was deemed as being special needs, which meant going off each week to small class room filled with struggling kids like me. I don’t think these classes particularly helped me academically, as I still went on to miserably fail my English O level 4 times, leaving school with only an Art O level & CSE in Music (old school qualifications).

After a succession of jobs in my late teens I decided to leave my small London world and go traveling, the experiences of this adventure opened my mind up to the possibilities of something more and on my return to England I decided to go back to school start again.

Despite the odds, at the age of 25 I managed to secure a place at Brighton University to study for a BSc degree in Physiotherapy. You’d think I was on a home stretch, but it was being thrown into this highly completive academic world that I really struggled to hide my inability to read or write.

Finally understanding why!

It was at Uni with the support of student services I was finally assessed and diagnosed as being dyslexic. I remember at the time feeling relieved that I wasn’t actually stupid and that there was an actual reason that I found words tricky and that I could improve and get help.

I am now a successful and respected Physiotherapist with my own business and even though my journey has been a challenge, I have learnt along the way that you should never write a person off as unable to learn, be it an academic or physical skill, as we all learn in different ways and at different paces.

Be kind, don’t judge, offer a helping hand

So if nothing else, I hope by me sharing my story it will help inspire someone like me to believe that they can achieve and that you can learn anything you put your heart into even if the climb might be a bit harder, but you can do it. Or if you have a young person in your life that finds words a challenge that you will now maybe take a step back and think of how you can help them.
And to the rest of you, just be kind, don’t judge other people's abilities and write them off, instead offer them a helping hand to get up that hill.

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

Now you know why you see things differently, you have the power to achieve your full potential. Find people and resources that can help you on your journey. Set your intention and be determined to reach your goals no matter what anyone else says.

Dyslexics are creative, determined, capable and practical people.