1. “Being dyslexic means you can’t spell, right?”
WRONG. Dyslexia can affect our spelling, but it can also affect our grammar and sentence structure. It also affects our reading speed and concentration. Oh and it affects our short and long term memory, pronunciation, coordination and organisation skills.
So keep throwing those “can’t spell” jokes our way. We love them (P.S. we don’t).
2. “My mate is dyslexic and he managed to get really good grades in the end. Don’t worry about school.”
Roughly 8% of the adult population is dyslexic, but this doesn’t mean that we’re all dyslexic in the same way. Every dyslexic has their own unique strengths and weaknesses.
Some dyslexics are great at visualising things in their head and can be extremely creative, whilst others aren’t. Some dyslexics have issues with trying to understand words they see in a book and can only read well if it is written with a ‘special font’, whilst a lot of dyslexics don’t need that.
So don’t compare us to your mate.
3. “You’ll grow out of it. Don’t worry.”
NO WE WON’T. I left school about eight years ago and can I spell ‘definitely’ without using spellchecker? No. Neither can I spell ‘Leicester’, and I’ve been there three times (and I’ve had some wonderful times in Leicester).
Even though dyslexics get tuition and support, we’re never going to overcome some niggles and we don’t really know why. We’re just worse at school and at college because we are forced to be assessed constantly on some of our greatest weaknesses.
Dyslexia is with us for life.
4. “I envy you. You get extra time in exams.”
You’re right. We do get extra time…
…but while we’re left in the examination hall agonising about whether anyone will actually understand what we’ve written on the page for another hour and check the page over and over you get to leave, chat excitably outside with your friends about how it is all over outside and then go to the pub.
5. “I envy you. You get leeway given for poor spelling and grammar in examinations and essays.”
You’re right. We do get leeway given for poor spelling and grammar…
…but this doesn’t mean that we get to totally just throw whatever we have in our heads on to the page without thinking. Examiners need to actually understand our written answers and arguments clearly or we don’t get the marks.
So writing an essay is just as much a pain for us as it is for you. Simple.
6. “I envy you. You get free computer equipment as well as tuition and stuff.”
We can sometimes get a new swish computer when we’re assessed, but you know that it’s full of equipment to actually make essays and examination prep slightly less horrifying right? It comes with a writing software, essay tools and dictation software as some of us can communicate better in speech than in writing.
Don’t think we get these free tools ‘forever’ though. When we’ve graduated what support do we get in terms of application forms, CVs and cover letters, tax returns, writing letters and other obstacles? Very little. Likely nothing.
7. “There are MANY famous people who are dyslexic.”
Jay Leno is dyslexic. Albert Einstein was dyslexic. Richard Branson is dyslexic and he’s a billionaire. Tom Cruise, Orlando Bloom, Bill Gates, Winston Churchill, Cher, Whoopi Goldberg blah blah blah blah blah blah blah…
STOP. PATRONISING. US. It doesn’t mean that we’re going to be billionaires.
8. “With all of these problems you must really hate being dyslexic then…”
No, I don’t. Yes it has got its pains, its frustrations and people asking you these eight things over and over and OVER AGAIN, but it’s a part of me.
I can’t think what I would be without it. There are little quirks about the way I work that I find beneficial, and I reckon that they are down to my dyslexia. I wouldn’t want to risk losing that.
These little quirks are what makes us all cool. And dyslexics can be very cool.