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Nicola Sandy

Nicola Sandy

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 always knew I had challenges but just thought I was dumb. I was the kind and helpful child, but my name never correlated with being smart, yet I knew things - I was intuitive and empathetic. No one realised that I had dyslexia!

I was sat in a Psychology degree lecture at age 41 and the module leader was talking dyslexia, learning, and decoding language, and I thought to myself 'this is me'.

I contacted the Access department and when I explained what I experienced they booked me an assessment. My diagnostic assessment was emotional to say the least. I sat and cried tears of relief because someone finally understood. They saw and interpreted my struggle. I was heartbroken for myself because I wasn’t dumb after all.

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

Dyslexia makes my learning process slower and I am unable to decode information immediately. I need thinking time to create a system or to see the patterns formed.

The positives are that I am very methodical and transparent in how I share or present information, and I’m an active listener. I am creative in my approach to work and it’s simplified and differentiated for all to access.

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

I went unsupported through all my childhood and teenage years, and I seriously struggled. During university, once I was diagnosed, I was supported with a 1:1 tutor, access arrangements and assistive technologies.

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

I have since achieved a 2:1 degree as well as a Post Graduate Diploma. I am hoping to complete a doctorate degree in the future.

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

Figure out what system or method works best for you and stick to it.

Advocate for yourself at school and work if you are having difficulty.

As an adult at work, seek help!

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

Dyslexia doesn’t disappear or change once you leave education or become an adult. It affects your life and work. Please stop disregarding the life-long impact this has.

Dyslexics unfortunately need to be prepared to advocate for themselves for life. It’s exhausting, but it’s the only way to highlight the need for inclusion and differentiation.