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Alice Ferns

Tell us about your dyslexia diagnosis - when were you diagnosed and when did you / family members / friends / teachers realise that you were having challenges

I was diagnosed with dyslexia when I was in year 2. My mum noticed something wasn’t right when I was struggling with reading, spellings and speech in class. I lacked a lot of confidence. It was a surprise when we found out I had dyslexia. But it turns out it runs in my mums family.

How has dyslexia impacted you in both positive ways and challenges?

Dyslexia has made me into the person I am today. I am proud that I have dyslexia and that my brain works differently. But I did not always feel like that. At school I struggled so much. I worked hard and was always well behaved, but I was always placed in bottom sets and would try and do everything in my power to get out of them.

From year 2 to year 6 I had a dyslexic tutor who helped me so much. I hated the sessions as I didn’t like being taken out of my mainstream classes. But I will be forever grateful to her as I would not be where I am with out her.

Throughout school I was always predicted very low grades. But I learnt over time that if I got a head of everyone else in preparation for all my exams and got organised I would have a good chance of getting some decent grades. This worked! In my GCSEs I went from getting Ds to As. This was a huge achievement. And shocked everyone.

The same happened in my A Levels. University had a big question mark next to it at the start but I did it. Allowing myself more time and sacrificing some social life I was successful. Today I am now a secondary school geography teacher. But before I became a teacher I use to work in HR and spent a lot of time going into schools to talk about careers.

I loved that part of my job. I met so many students who struggled with dyslexia or lacked self confidence. This is what made me change my career to become a teacher and it’s the best thing I ever did. I love my job and I love helping kids see the light at the end of the tunnel when they are struggling. If I didn’t have dyslexia I may never have found my dream job.

What support have you received for your dyslexia throughout your life?

I received supper from a dyslexic tutor and my parents.

Do you have a particular story or achievement you would like to share?

This is small, but getting a first in my dissertation at university. If you told me in year 6 that I would be writing 10,000 words in my last year of uni and actually get a decent mark I would not believe you. I always struggled in school to write more than a page!

What advice would you have for someone who has recently been diagnosed with dyslexia?

Always over-estimate how much time you need for a task. This allows you to stay organised and get ahead in the game.

What one thing would you like the world to know about dyslexia?

Please be patient, processing may take a while. But we always get there in the end.