This year’s thoughts on Dyslexia: from Miss Daisy

Another year rolls by and it is Dyslexia awareness week again. Last year I wrote about my journey as a child and teenager growing up with severe Dyslexia and Dyscalculia and the struggles I went through to fit into the social norms of school, etc. This year I want to focus on my journey to running my own business and what people can possibly do to help people around them with Dyslexia and Dyscalculia.
(Read Miss Daisy's Blog, written last years during Dyslexia Awareness week, right here:
I left my story last year with the news that I’d recently achieved my goal; to qualify as a dance teacher with the RAD and ISTD. I absolutely love my job. Getting to where I am now has come with its ups and downs and at times the thought of running my own business has been very daunting because of my additional needs. However, I have come this far, and I have no desire to stop. So here are some questions to ask yourself before I pass on my thoughts on my own experiences.
What do you think of when you think of Dyslexia or Dyscalculia?
Do you think anything of it?
If someone at work is constantly emailing you with loads of spelling mistakes do you think they are just being lazy? Rushed the email? Or did you think this person might really struggle with writing, maybe I will pick up the phone and talk to them or schedule a meeting rather than sending them an email? I worry that people may think this of me, that people may think I’m lazy, stupid or that I don’t really care. The truth is I care an awful lot about not being able to spell, tell the time, know my lefts or rights, or do simple maths without using my fingers or a calculator.
I still struggle with feeling ashamed that I find easy task’s hard and I do not like asking for help. I want to feel “normal” and pretend I do not struggle with anything. I have always been so determined to put on a front that I am “normal” that is why I shy away from new people. I will always try and blend into the background, so no one asks me anything. I will not get involved in group conversation’s until I feel totally confident that people will not judge me or laugh. I have
found this the easiest way to not feel stupid and hide away from some people’s judgment.
During my education and work life there has been little change in the help offered for Dyslexic and Dyscalculia people. For example, on inductions into a new job, new rules within workplaces or new documents from governing boards you can often receive a 10-page document on what you need to do. Straight away I want to cry and think right that is it I cannot do it. Because I cannot read very well and most of the time, they use words that I have never heard of and do not understand. I can easily feel like giving up. Meetings or AGM’s can feel the same and I just think how small I can make myself so no one asks me any questions on the topic, for fear of getting it wrong.
Think back to when you started a new job. Can you relate to this? Now imagine not actually being able to read the rules on how to do your job properly. It is like getting a job and someone says off you go to the shop floor with zero training. It is daunting and scary and of course you’re bound to do things wrong. If only workplaces or organisations were better educated on people with additional learning needs this could be so different. Its estimated that 1 in 10 people in the UK have Dyslexia and if things like, bullet pointing rather than essay’s or organizing a meeting or phone call to talk things through could help, how much better 1 in every 10 of us would feel. We are not lazy, our brains just do not work in the same way as everyone else’s and things some find simple we find extra hard. It’s just about adapting and understanding.
While studying for my dance qualification, on the theory side, I found little help was given for a different way of learning. I would have to print out 12 pages and sometimes a lot more to read through and write an assignment. Perfectly easy I am sure for someone without additional needs as lots of people have passed before me. But for me it was sleepless night, lots of tears, lots of phones calls for help with little given. But I kept going and with a lot of help from my parents and friends I managed to complete the qualifications I needed.
Now I run two dance schools in Bristol, and I would not change this for any other job. To look at, I do not look any different, to listen to I sound the same as people around me, but my brain works a little differently. If you ask me the time I may freeze and probably say I do not know even if I have a watch on. If you ask me what time lessons start and end, I may say I am not sure please check the timetable. If you ask me how much things are, I may ask you to email me because I cannot add up without a calculator or using my fingers. I will sometimes struggle to get my words out. I know what I want to say but getting them out can sometimes be jumbled around the wrong way. But this does not stop me being good at what I do and making every student that walks through my studio door feel welcome and reach their highest potential.
Running my own business means I have to respond to emails and messages and I admit this is something I find constantly challenging .On average it can take me around 5/10 minutes to respond to every email I receive whether it is big or small. I use spell check and Grammarly, however there is a flaw, I don’t know which is the correct spelling so I normally take a guess or if it’s not picked up on by the app I don’t notice them. Sometimes I am late replying because I have to wait until someone is home to check over my emails to make sure they make sense. Everything takes me a little bit longer, but I get there in my own time and work things out my own way. My friends often refer to me having my own dictionary and after a while of knowing me you pick up on this and can work out exactly what I am saying.
Although all the above I struggle with it daily, I try not to let it define me and stop me reaching my goals. In summary, this is a little insight into things I have found hard, lots of other people have these same difficulties too. If you know someone who might have some extra needs, ask if there is anything you can do to help. Let us not assume everyone can read pages and pages of documents, lets bullet point the most important things. Pick up the phone to have a conversation rather than send a huge email.
Try not to judge if someone cannot tell the time, uses their fingers to add up, find writing essays or emails hard. We all have a different way of learning and I think Dyslexia and Dyscalculia should have a platform like for example ‘Wellbeing in the Workplace’. It should be something everyone talks about and is aware of and there should be more measures put in place to help. It can be lonely feeling constantly stupid and out of the loop because you cannot read or understand what is been said in an email or at meetings. If you run a business with employees think about how you word things or send things over. Could you do the above? All these things will help people struggling feel less isolated and stupid and you never know, you might see a completely different side to them. Confident in what they are doing and willing to share their ideas with others because you have opened a new line of communication.
I hope you enjoyed reading a insight in to my experience and thoughts. Please share with me your ideas and thoughts. Until next year. Miss Daisy
Read Miss Daisy's Blog, written during last years dyslexia awareness week, right here: