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Living with Dyslexia

Dyslexia affects everyone in different ways, it’s such a strange and weird disability. You can hold diverse conversations on a range of topics, but try and get it down in writing or on a keyboard and it becomes a mess of spelling, grammar and jumbled-up words.

I was not diagnosed with dyslexia until I was 21, via a chance conversation with someone who was studying the topic as part of their degree. As they explained more and more about the way it manifests itself the more I kept saying “that’s me”, “that’s how I read”, “that’s how I spell” and finally “that’s how my brain works!!”. It was a hell of an eye-opener at the time having spent my entire education struggling with words, spelling and writing but feeling that something was not right in my head.

Secondary school was hell, I’m not sure during the early eighties dyslexia was understood correctly, and I had an English teacher who was a total nightmare and treated me like I was stupid. I look back now and only pity her for the way she treated me. The worst episode highlighting the treatment was being flung a remedial spelling book in the middle of a full English class because of my latest attempt at writing an essay. During all this time I read, mostly on my own, away from anyone watching, because dyslexia means I read everything in my head and verbalise it, you can see my lips moving ever so slightly when I am ready.

I then gravitated to the sciences, maths, physics and computing keeping the essays at bay, and the technical aspects high. In this environment, I thrived and went on to study Computer Science at university. I loved programming and I loved programming languages. Over my career, I’ve learnt and delivered in the likes of Cobol, Fortran, Pascal, Ada, C, C++, Lisp, Prolog, Java, Javascript, Scala, Python and PHP to name a few. Programming languages make so much sense, grammars are tightly defined with little room for ambiguity. For a dyslexic that sees words more than letters jump around on a page, it’s heaven.

When the time does come for documentation, I’ve developed patterns and techniques which remove the fear and mean I now ( sort of ) enjoy it. My discovery of Grammarly a few years ago was a game-changer. The ability to see mistakes and have them suggested and corrected in the way Grammarly works was incredible and my writing improved 10-fold.

For those living with dyslexia don’t give up hope, speak out, and if you get ignored, speak louder and to more people. The education system has changed massively and even as adults there is so much more support and help available to us now. There is no reason to feel ashamed, there is never a reason to believe you are stupid and that you should be shut away and ignored. It does take bravery to step up, but you can take small steps. Talk to a friend, talk to a teacher you trust and explain that you think something isn’t working when you read or write. Get Grammarly, it’s a game changer. Finally finds ways of reading that work for you ( not someone else ).

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