The last few years, many things changed in my life. Things that made me understand better why I was experiencing the world they way I did. One of these things was the results from a psychological assessment for Dyslexia.
When I moved to N.I. I decided to make a clean start! I thought that now it’s time to follow my dream and finally do something that I love! In Greece it was almost impossible to do that, especially when you are not size zero with blonde hair and you don’t know somebody in a powerfull position. Anyway…
So, I moved to Northern Ireland and I decided that I wanted to study something “art and design” related! The next steps were to go to classes to improve my English, to prepare a portfolio with drawings (I had never really draw in my life) and to finally apply to the university for the Foundation Yr of Art & Design!
To my surprise, I was accepted with the condition to improve my English a bit more. Therefore, I had to attend a pre-sessional English course which I did. In that one month course, my tutors and I realised that something wasn’t going very well. I was confusing letters like the “b” and “d”, I was forgetting to write letters or words etc. Of course, in my mind, everything seemed ok, I had never realised that this was happening until it was pointed out by my tutors.
Long story short
As a result of the above, I decided to take the test. It had different parts and not all of them were easy. The way my brain works is visual. If I can visualise things I can understand them and I can remember them. The easiest part of the test was some images like puzzles where you had to figure out which piece is the correct fit very very fast, well I only missed one. Hurray! I wish I could do that like for an hour it was amazing! Anyway, what I found difficult was some questions about history and stuff well I don’t really care about who Cathrine of Russia was, or to know the presidents of the United States. Well, no, I never cared to learn things like that, I feel like they clutter my brain, so thanx but I’ll pass…
Dyslexia in the university
The results were “Severe Dyslexia”. Nobody really told me what that meant! None! I went to the Foundation Yr and the support I received was some stickers for my essays and I was also allowed to record lectures. The same happened the next three years during my studies in Interior Design, but additionally I had more time to return books to the library and a time extension in submitting my essays which I never used.
But, the struggle was real. My essays were lengthy and I didn’t have anyone to proofread them! In the end, I had to ask my partner to read my essays and make notes for things I forgot, or I mixed up, or things that didn’t make sense. I’ll always be grateful for his help and support, without him it would have been a hell submitting my essays.
Fortunately, for my Master’s Degree things changed and I finally got more support! A very nice Lady did an assessment with me in order to understand my needs. She was the first one to ask me how I was experiencing things regarding reading, writing, thinking, and she was the first one who told me that what I was experiencing was pretty common in people with dyslexia! What a joy! For the first time in my life, I felt that I’m not alone, I’m not crazy. What I was experiencing wasn’t something extraordinary! Anyway, after the assessment, I received some technology stuff, but most importantly I’ve got a dyslexia coach!
A big parenthesis here.
In Greece, there is this insulting perception for people with dyslexia. Most of the people in Greece believe that if someone is dyslexic is also stupid, or “retarded”. In Greece is like forbidden to say that you are dyslexic as there is always the danger of being called names.
This fear followed me too.
For example, when I was attending some classes to learn German (cause I’m good at learning different languages) I was recording the lesson. I assumed that I was allowed to do so because I was allowed in the university which is a UNIVERSITY and not just a class. But I assumed wrong. My recorder made a sound and the teacher asked what was that. I said to her that I’m recording the lesson so I can study at home. Remember, I have visual memory but I can’t visualise an hour of unknown verbal words. Anyway, what followed shocked me.
I had to explain to the whole class (!) that I need to record the lesson so I can study at home cause as I can’t remember everything very well. And then I felt like I was in the middle of a circle and people were throwing stones at me. They started complaining and saying that I should have asked them for permission (FROM ALL OF THEM)! They were saying that maybe somebody didn’t want his/her voice recorded! And that they didn’t know how I was going to use the recordings and stuff like that! And I was what the hell?
Do I need to tell the whole class that I have dyslexia? And If I had said it to my teacher and she had “given” me “permission” then what all these “people” would have to say? They are just hypocrites. That is what I have to say to them. Anyway, I apologised to them and I explained that the recordings were for my personal use only. After 5 minutes I found an excuse and I left the class and never went back there. Stupid people.
You see, that’s the fear. Having dyslexia is something sensitive in Greece, and is something confidential in the UK. And yet, I have to live with the fear that people will assume things. Will assume that I’m a Russian spy in a German language lesson class and I went there to steal their whatever. Or that I’m a stupid foreign woman who found an excuse to receive benefits (which I don’t) or that I’m just stupid.
University Master’s Degree
Another example, from 3-4 months ago is similarly disturbing. I had to write an essay for my Master’s and we were given some general guidelines.
Believe me, I tried to understand, I really did. I search on the internet, I asked my partner, I read some books regarding essays etc. But I couldn’t understand what my tutor wanted! I couldn’t understand the words, I couldn’t visualise them, and I even ignored her spelling mistakes, but I just couldn’t visualise the meaning of the words. So, the only solution was to go and ask for clarification.
When I went to her I explained that I tried to understand this and that, I asked what she meant etc. and she tried to help me by repeating what was written on the paper. Then I said to her that I couldn’t understand what she wants, I just couldn’t. That was it, she was on fire, I could feel her blood boiling in her head. She was very defensive and I tried to stay calm. I didn’t say anything about dyslexia and stuff. I just said to her, that I couldn’t visualise what she wanted and if I can’t visualise it I can’t understand it! And that was it. She calmed a bit and she actually started to think about how to answer my questions. In the end she did help me with her answers.
But you see, my tutors are supposed to know about my dyslexia but apparently, she didn’t. And not only that, but from my perspective similar behaviours shows a lack of respect, patience and compassion.
Also, I think she is a fine tutor with brilliant ideas but I wouldn’t really like to be in a situation like this again.
Now, back to my dyslexia coach.
My Dyslexia coach was the first to explain to me my dyslexia assessment. He was amazed by my results and he told me that he hadn’t seen such high scores in his whole career. I had never really read my assessment because as I usually say “too many words”, which means I’ll need a week just to visually understand the meaning of all these strange words.
My coach showed me a bell graph and he told me that my assessment showed that my “Perceptual Reasoning” and my “Processing Speed” are superior. They fall into the right side of the bell, where the very smart people are. He told me that my IQ is well above average and what I’m lacking is a way to communicate my intelligence. As he noticed I took the test in English. English is a second language for me and when I took the test I was only 1 year and a half in N.I.
In the end, he said that if I was to take the test “today” my low scores would have been much higher but that wouldn’t change the fact that I have dyslexia.
Dyslexia in Everyday life
Dyslexia isn’t something which affecting only the university life. It has an effect on my everyday life too. Take for example my blog here.
To write a post without photos might take 1 to 2 days. Just to write. If I need to do some research it might take longer.
To write here in my blog, I use two grammar correctors. I use two as the one isn’t automated and the other isn’t very good. To use the good one it means that I need to copy paste my text into a specific “writer” and correct one by one all the grammar mistakes. Mistakes that include forgotten words, or letters.
After that, I read my text a couple of times, and then I ask my partner to proofread it too. It’s very easy for me to write “its” instead of “each”, or “right” instead of “write”. And the grammar correctors don’t always find these kinds of mistakes.
As I said, having Dyslexia is something confidential, but here I am making a public statement of my dyslexia.
It wasn’t an easy decision. But it was an important one!
People always make assumptions. Inaccurate ones most of the time! I can’t really imagine what people with different disabilities than dyslexia are going through in their everyday life.
It is sad and a shame to those who treat others without respect. It doesn’t matter if somebody has or not a disability. If you are kind, polite and trying to understand you will always treat others with respect. We all have personal problems, but this is not an excuse to behave badly.
Lastly, I hope that everybody can understand that having dyslexia doesn’t mean that you are stupid. Look at me according to my coach I’m like Einstein, which was a dyslectic too. So, my dear people, stop making assumptions and always remember to zip it…
Always with love