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My Dyslexia & Dyspraxia Story - Wendy Byrne

Monday 3 April 2023

I was around 7 years old when my mum noticed a problem with my spelling. My teachers dismissed it and one said “she’s just thick” and would make me sit at a desk away from the rest of the class, instructing me to copy out recipes from a cookbook whilst she taught the rest of the class.

When I was diagnosed with Dyslexia in my early 30’s, it was then I was also diagnosed with Dyspraxia. I had never heard of ´Dyspraxia’ and when it was explained, there was a lightbulb moment and a realisation of understanding why I found cooking very stressful.

Dyspraxia and me…

Trying to cook a meal with so many things to think about. I would have to banish people from the kitchen, it was too distracting for me. My mum would get upset with me and so I had to explain why. I’ve learnt to ask people to sit away from where I am working and expect limited conversation at times whilst I cook.

As a child, I was often and still am, clumsy. I bump into a lot of things and trip over nothing! I am terrible at spilling things whilst eating too, I even spilt on my wedding dress despite trying really hard not to.

Strategies to help manage stress

In terms of organisation, I’ve built lots of strategies to help keep me on track with time management etc, and I use a lot of technology. In work I record meetings where I can, to help me with information overload, I can go back to the recordings afterwards which helps with my stress.

My challenges are low self-esteem and magnified imposter syndrome, I have no confidence in my abilities despite glaring evidence on the contrary. My positives, I am a great problem solver, I see the bigger picture and then drill down into the details. I can join the dots and basically think differently.

Feeling proud

I won a book competition at 9yrs old, and I wrote a collection of stories about my Grandad and his family to raise money for the last marathon I ran and I am now running for the BDA in the Marathon this year.

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

Know your strengths and build strategies to overcome challenges by making sure you are assessed. It’s so important to understand and see yourself as a different thinker and be proud of it.

Use technology: spell & grammar checkers and dictation. Computers free up these basic challenges which allows me to think freely.

Be mindful of the mental health of someone who was not diagnosed or given support. They will have strong patterns which have been built over the years, be kind and educate yourself!