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My Dyslexia Story - Melanie Oaks

Thursday 9 November 2023

I didn't find out I was dyslexic until the age of 51. My dyslexia was never picked up at school and I past through the school day without any teaches commenting on my ability in literacy. I hated school from the start, as I felt afraid most days. The only time I seemed to enjoy school was during the Christmas festivities, which provided a much-welcomed break from reading, writing and spelling because I was able to be creative and make paper chains and snowflakes for the windows!

I didn't even realise at the time that I was behind my peers or that I was struggling... but I must have been. The only time I received a hurtful and negative comment from the teacher was when she told me in front of the class to "Pull your sock up!" This was because I couldn't read the Peter and Jane books. As a result, it was my late father who taught me to read with flashcards using the 'whole word approach'. I now know that this was not only my achievement but also my father's, because he passed away without ever receiving a diagnosis for dyslexia. He was both dyslexic and autistic.

When my son was 7 years old, I recognised some of the difficulties he was having at school because I could entirely relate to them. I decided to have him fully assessed for dyslexia and this was when I realised dyslexia was in my family. I am now glad that I am dyslexic because since realising we have the condition, my son has gone on to do his A levels and I have a First Class Honours degree in teaching English and linguistics. Dyslexia has made me a more determined and resilient person, as well as having an empathy for others with dyslexia. So much so, it has now become a career choice!

My best achievements are my son, learning to drive... and gaining my degree! I have since trained as a dyslexia specialist teacher and I will soon be training to become an assessor - something I feel very proud of.

When I was told I was dyslexic, everything started to make sense and I began to understand myself more. For me, getting my diagnostic report was an empowering experience. However, others might feel upset and daunted by being told they are dyslexic. My best advice would be to first allow yourself time to let this new information sink in, and my next bit of advice is to try to find out as much as you can about dyslexia and what help there is available to you. It can be helpful to not only seek practical support with any issues in literacy you are facing, but to join support groups where you can receive positive emotional support too.

Dyslexia doesn't define you, you are so much more than that. We all have our personal strengths and weaknesses and with the right support, you can turn your dyslexia into a condition that you might actually become proud of. Always try to focus on the positives however small they seem to you - as you might just discover some strengths you never knew you had, and others wished they did!