My Dyslexia Story: Stephen Shine
Thursday 30 November 2023
I was diagnosed at the age of 34 through a workplace assessment. I had a 4-year-old daughter and through reading to her and spelling with her, my partner noticed something different in how I approached words. It was more challenging. I couldn't remember spellings, I missed out words, I stopped at the end of lines. I then started reading more about the positive aspects of dyslexia and a lot of it felt familiar. Being able to see things differently, get to the bottom of a problem quickly, organise and analyse information. Getting the diagnosis was both empowering and upsetting at the same time. I'd had years of failure at school which had impacted myself esteem. I was now able to reframe this as environmental challenges and lacking the support I needed. I'm still on a journey to understand how my brain works, when I work best and the tasks I'm best to delegate. It's a journey I wouldn't have been able to start without my partner and the support of my employer at the time.
“I had to work harder than my peers at school to achieve grades that weren't as good.”
I've been able to explore lots of different subjects, find the interconnections and bring them together to provide unique insights. I've also worked efficiently to focus on the big picture ideas of a subject and not get bogged down in the detail. At the same time, I've experienced some psychological trauma through exposure to exams and a lack of support in place and recognition of the challenges I face.
Not long after I was diagnosed, I applied for a new job. It was a big step up and I was processing what my dyslexia meant for me. I also had the battle of whether to disclose my diagnosis. I decided to. It gave my extra time in the practical part of the interview, and I also prepped my answers in a mind map which helped me to process and recall the information I needed. I got the job, and I like to think it was partially down to my levels of self-awareness and ability to use the tools that I needed, to do the interview. It was a difficult transition into the new role, and I've had to work through new workplace adjustments as well as learning more about myself in a challenging environment. It's not been without pain or effort, but a year on I'm feeling more capable than ever. And I believe my resilience has come from my experiences with dyslexia in my life.
My advice for someone who has recently been diagnosed with dyslexia:
Allow yourself space to process the variety of emotions and make sense of what it means for you. Connect with others who are diagnosed and learn as much about yourself as possible.
It's a difference, not a disability. And the difference creates great strength.