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#MyDyslexiaStory: Romario Wanliss

Monday 11 October 2021

Diagnosed in 2018, in my 30's, a salmon coloured paper changed my life. I could process the words quickly, unlike the usual rereading I had constantly done before. No one around noticed.

I am an eloquent speaker, charismatic and charming. I sound well read and educated, however I was not well educated; I was intelligent and well spoken. I enjoyed reading and learning, however I consistently failed academically - 0% on exams kind of fail.

I suspected I was dyslexic after meeting someone who wanted to create an app for dyslexics. The way he talked about navigating the world resonated with me. I told my closest friend at the time, however I was told I am not dyslexic - I just need to try. It would be almost a decade later that I took a dyslexia assessment after wanting to enter academic education when I would have my diagnosis.

The positives and the challenges?

In a positive way dyslexia has allowed me the gateway to access the academic support I needed to get further educated. Tutors would print on the coloured paper that I needed, use a variety of formats to teach subject areas to include diagrams.

The negatives has been I just kept failing academically which held me back from accessing high paying job positions. I worked in catering and retail for many years before leaving it behind. It meant thrusting myself into poverty - something I still navigate today - but here is how I am doing thus far since September 2018: I am a Life Coach and Trainee Counsellor. In addition, I do public speaking and wish to author a book in the future.

Academically? Well - I have had the follow qualification with distinctions or high achievements:

  • 2019 Level 1 & 2 Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT)
  • Level 2 Mentoring certified by Counselling & Psychotherapy Central awarding body (CPCAB) 2020
  • Level 2 Counselling certified by the CPCAB
  • Level 3 Life Coaching certified by the CPCAB
  • Currently studying in September 2021 Mathematics GCSE
  • Level 3 Diploma in Counselling

Dyslexia Week 2021

Here is short write up I did for dyslexia week for my place of study:

"My Dyslexia feels dirty at times, there is no physical ‘proof’ to show my tutors immediately. I sound educated, I can read, I can write - I see the tutors face express ‘so what is the problem?’

I earn high grades in class, and that must mean nothing is wrong - a student just needs to put in the work - right? Well I do put in the work, however the work I put in also involves mental fatigue from reading from the paper you refuse to print on a colour I can read from properly, the work also involves being absent minded in class because I was told to “just get it done - this is an adult class, I cannot explain everything to everyone” by my tutor, therefore I spend late nights revising which means I sometimes fall behind on assignments.

The worst part of my adult academic journey was hearing a tutor say dyslexia was manipulative and not was not real in front of my class peers. I almost gave up that course. Luckily there were other staff support at BAES who supported my completion of the course.

I hope students do not have to be ‘lucky’ in the future. We remember that educators mean educating not eradicating a student’s self-esteem.

My dream, is to have students with dyslexia focus on learning, not feeling anxious about whether the tutor will provide support.”

Romario Wanliss

How can you help people like me?

  • Listen with understanding
  • Make it clear when and how a student can request 1 to 1 support to aid deeper understanding of tasks
  • Provide the stationary i.e. colour paper - do not fancy putting in the 'budget’ (yes I know budget cuts). Let the student know in advance to get paper you may print on
  • Consider different forms of teaching a subject area i.e. real life examples, class discussions, diagrams, bullet points anything beyond a page of long text format

My dream, is to have students with dyslexia focus on learning not feeling anxious about whether the tutor will provide support. Thank you to the staff and few tutors who have supported my adult learning journey over the years - know I am doing well, I did not give up because I remember the time you paused to show me I have the power to do it. The journey is rough but I keep tutors like you as motivators in my mind. "

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

With your new diagnosis of dyslexia, arm yourself with it for when you need to get extra support. Consider it a sign of strength - once we know more about ourselves we can set ourselves up to progress towards our desired goals. You learning about your dyslexia is another adventure on the road of self-discovery.

Dyslexia is not linked to unintelligence or uneducated - a highly academic student achieving great grades with dyslexia is not proof 'they can do it' - it is proof that with the right support in place - they CAN do it! They are resilient and highly determined to achieve great heights.