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My Dyslexia Story - Sophie Jones

Tuesday 6 June 2023

I was diagnosed in November 2022 at the age of 34 by an educational psychologist and scored the top 1% of the population, for my ability to recreate shapes with physical objects. At first, she didn’t think I would be dyslexic as I was working as a director of a FTSE100 company and had achieved an MBA and degree. However, upon going through all the tests she confirmed I was indeed severely dyslexic. It was an aha moment and made a lot of things make sense. People I know that are dyslexic, always suspected I was.

“Dyslexia has given me the gift of perseverance”.

Not knowing I had dyslexia, I always just kept going to reach my goals. It has also given me thicker skin. I always struggled with academia. I would cry daily for a month when I first started my MBA as I struggled, but I kept going due to the strength of my perseverance.

Think differently!

Now I let people know and they are supportive and kinder with things such as spelling mistakes. I had previous colleagues in other workplaces shout at me for spelling mistakes or because I could not think in the way they wanted me to. I wished I had been assessed earlier.
Being diagnosed at 34 was a surprise, as all my life I struggled within inner turmoil thinking I was stupid due to being told so. I would not get jobs, even though they said I had the 'best cv' and a degree in, because of my verbal ability and then I was made to work in ways that were near impossible for my thinking.

Prove them wrong

Even in my childhood I was constantly ridiculed, in particular one lady delighted in telling me in front of others how her three-year old spoke better than me as a nine-year old. Can you imagine how that would make you feel? When you are told you are something constantly, you can accept it, or try to prove people wrong. I chose the latter, as this 'outsider' view of me being ‘stupid’ conflicted with my view.
Verbal communication was not a big thing in my house as my brother was autistic. In addition, I lost all my baby teeth early, resulting in me needing speech therapy.
Growing up on a council estate there was little care about the 'proper way' of speaking, my mum was a single parent all through my teen years and her focus was as a full-time career to my disabled brother.

For over 3 decades, I harden up to insults and fought back, developing a tough shell to the comments. They hurt but I just tensed my stomach in when I felt I would cry.

However, there were a few people throughout my life who would tell me I was far from stupid, I listened to them and clung to this. Not knowing my 'perceived stupidity' was actually dyslexia! I took action, continued speech therapy up to my 20s, public speaking for 10 years, and moved to different countries to pick up different twangs to mask my speech errors.
I studied a degree, MBA, and other Qualifications to signal I was NOT stupid. People that thought I was stupid, started to question their judgement of me. Turning things around on them.

My advice

Tell people about it, having spoken with others, I am astonished how many have dyslexia that I talk to daily. I read that 20% of people in the UK have dyslexia and since my diagnosis and hearing other stories I can see that.

Opening to others allows them to open up to you, you are then able to swap stories and support each other. I have been given some fantastic tips from people I work with, who I never even knew were dyslexic. It allows you to bond as you have shared ways of thinking.

Never let society tell YOU what YOU are. YOU are in control of what YOU are, not others. Do not judge people. There are multiple intelligences out there which makes the world beautiful and develop as a society. People are not what they seem. Next time someone tells you something about yourself with a negative undertone, let it wash over your head. Do not live up to their beliefs, live up to your own. I wished I had been diagnosed earlier, so if you suspect you are, get that diagnosis.

It gives you strengths in other areas of intelligences. Intelligence is not just the ability to read and write. Most dyslexics like me, think in 3D and achieve higher intelligence for visual awareness. Intelligence comes in different formats.