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My Dyslexia Story: Alice Furness

Thursday 16 May 2024

I was diagnosed with dyslexia when I was 9. My school picked up on some problems I was having and gave me some helpful interventions but luckily my parents were able to send me to a dyslexia institute for intensive help. I was jealous that children around me could read and write, and I couldn’t.

“I went on to become a Primary School Teacher with an English Degree and published a Children’s book”

I found that my creative writing soon flourished. I got the highest creative writing SATS score in County Durham that year, which was a nice achievement for someone with dyslexia. That boosted my confidence a lot and helped drive me through school when we were moving around a lot

There is support out there…

I received support at university, I needed to be re-assessed to know exactly what kind of support I needed, which was incredibly helpful. When I was a teacher my diagnosis and reports from the dyslexia institute was used as examples of best practice. It felt great to give back to children going through what I went through. I could give them the same support I received and used similar interventions because I knew what worked.

A new adventure…

I’m not a teacher anymore. I was in a car crash which left me with a rare form of nerve damage in my face, SUNCT. Now I write dyslexia friendly knitting patterns and teach knitting classes. The patterns are in serif font, on a range of coloured backgrounds and with a particular sentence structure which is easy to read. Knitting is good for motor control, stress and cognitive function. It helped me get through my physical pain and the pain of losing my job. I’ve never found a knitting pattern designer who writes specifically for dyslexic people and so they can be tricky to read. I decided to fix that!

I’m creating a line of dyslexia/dyspraxic friendly glove patterns to help you tell your lefts from rights. It’s something my sister, my mum and I all need.

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

Trial and error- find what works for you through trying things. Change the contrast on your phone and tablet. Try coloured overlays to help you read.

Record conversations and label them when you’re planning things, convert website sites into an app to take the adverts out to reduce the ‘noise’, get a joint calendar and colour code events, and joint shopping list apps that sync between phones to avoid forgetting things. Grammarly helps when typing. Dragon dictation can be useful for writing essays and voice notes are useful when you don’t want to type or look up how to spell something.

It’s not a barrier and it doesn’t make anything less. It doesn’t stop us being able to learn or do anything. It certainly doesn’t make us less intelligent or less capable.