My Dyslexia (aged 38 ¼.)
My son came to me yesterday. Said that he had seen my blog earlier that day. We chatted about of for a while, some of the more personal details. After, I went and sat in the garden to soak up some more sun. My son appears at the back door and just stands there for a moment. As a parent you know when your child wants to say something. My blog had been a little heavy so thought it was that.
“What’s up Char” I said, giving him the chance to start talking. “Mum” he says, “You know when you open your blog and it says your strap line “Can you hear me now?”. I nod. “Well…it says can you HERE me now” he looks a little embarrassed and said, “I thought you would want to know”. “For God’s sake” I say to no one in particular and go about changing it. When I get the page up I say to my son “What’s the correct spelling” and he says, “Its HEAR and the way to remember that is that it has ear in in…so put a H in front and then you have hEAR”. I mutter something about I will try to remember that and change the blog.
Now, this kind of thing happens to me constantly. And it still kills me every single time.
When I was at school I was always in trouble. Always. I was taken out of main stream school aged 10 in year 5 and never went back into mainstream education again. I am PRU educated (Pupil referral unit). Actually, that’s a lie, They did put me in mainstream school when I was 14. I was placed in Dunraven school in Streatham. I lasted approx. 2 hrs and 15 mins before I had a fight and was excluded. You know what lesson the fight took place in? English.
When I was placed in the PRU in south London I did not have a diagnosis of Dyslexia. OR ADHD. These things happened muuuuccchhhhh later in life. Did I have Dyslexia and ADHD…yes. Was I diagnosed ….NO.
In my second year at the PRU a new teacher started. Mrs Henly. I hated her with every inch of my sole. She was the English teacher and she liked to smirk. I was a 13-year-old girl who was living in a very adult world outside of school. When she started she said that we would be reading a book called “The Lion, Witch and the wardrobe” as a class. Now, my dyslexia …I can read words fine in my head. Its when I have to spell them and sometimes when I have to speak them out loud that I have a problem. She said that we would take turns going around the class and read a page each. As she said this I could feel the blood pumping in my ears. No way…no way can I do this. I looked around my class. There were 6 of us. 2 girls and 4 boys. 2 of the boys in my class were a little older than me and were as deeply entrenched in gangs as I was at the time. I had a element of respect from these boys and very rarely would they include me when they would start bullying other students. If they did try such things then they knew it would start some big old drama both in and out of school. So we just had a mutual respect.
So now this stupid book is going around the class. 2 people have sat and read from the book. Laughing at bits to keep face. I realise that I am next. I cannot even hear what Ryan (The boy next to me) is saying. I am going to be sick. Keep calm Blondy…don’t mug your self off. Then suddenly the book is in my hand and Mrs bloody Henly is saying that I need to speak up. I look down. It says page 4.
I start reading. Like a robot. A robot who is about to be sick all over these people I muddle along the first line and then it says “Exclaimed Lucy”. I can’t read it and say “Excited Lucy”. The other girl sniggers. Mrs Henly reminds me of what it actually says. I carry on and then come to a word that is not English. I swear down the word is mad. I try and sound it out in my head. “Come on “ the teacher says “You don’t shut up usually”. I feel so hot that I think I am going to faint, so I say, “Where the back of the WARBRODE ought to be”. Suddenly everyone is cracking up. Even the teacher. One of the main boys is beating his leg with his hand and dying of laughter. Tears running down his face. I look around at them. My face must be so red. I am so fuming I can’t even breath. Then the girl the other side says, “Big bad Blondy, can’t even read init”. I snap. I punch her so hard in the face the silence is almost instant in the room. Then I attack her and just keep punching and kicking. Cussing her so hard that the words don’t even make sense. I am excluded. When I return the next week and its English we sit down, and the book starts to go around again. I am not scared this time. I see the teacher looking at me when its my turn. One of the boys has his arms crossed tight across his chest as if he is trying to hold in the laughter when I try to read. The teacher…who I must point out has still not addressed the fact that last week, violence or not, I could not read, says “ do you need help Kendra” I say “No miss”. Pick up the book and read out “and then Lucy said, Mrs Henly, why are you such a C*%£”. The laughter rips through the class. And this time I am laughing as well. I am over laughing rolling on the floor, pretending I can’t breathe. I then get the book and chuck it against the wall. I am placed in the “Exclusion room”. And that pretty much sums up hoe my English lessons went from that day on. In the end I was just placed in the “Exclusion room” at the start on the English lesson. Never even went into the classroom. And that suited me fine.
You know how many professionals had me screened from some kind of learning need. None. You know how many addressed the fact that I could not read that day. None.
Flash forward a few years and I am 21 doing a assessment to start my first ever college course. I left school without a single GCSE. Was kicked out because I was pregnant (That’s a story for another day). So here I was, in secret, applying to start a sociology course in Lambeth college. I had just done the written exam and the assessment, and I had messed up so bad. I had tried to spell the words that I answered with, but it was a mess. I sat across from the lady who was interviewing me. I knew that I had failed, and I just wanted to leave. I had other ways of making money, I didn’t need this idiot course to get me anywhere.
“So” she said. She looked over her glasses at me. She had a strong Jamaican accent and dreads wrapped high on her head “Why didn’t you put that you have dyslexia on the form and I would have supported you “she said. I had no idea what she was talking about or what the word was that she had just said. SO I just shrugged and screwed up my face, ready to kick off. “Ahh “she said and smiled. Not a smirk…a real smile “You don’t know what I mean do you”. I looked at her and felt almost safe. No I replied in a small voice. That angel of a women changed my life. She got me assessed for Dyslexia, she educated me about how it affected me, and she put me on the course…on one condition. That I attended extra English lessons. I don’t remember that Ladies name. I bet she don’t remember mine, but I often think about her. The angel lady who stopped me feeling stupid.
Anyway…back to being 38 ¼. I spell things wrong all day every day. I have to change whole sentences because my spell check doesn’t even know what the hell I am talking about. I still struggle saying certain words so just chuck it out there and say, “You know what I mean”. I have a good job. I have a degree…in fact I have a quite a few qualifications. I am not stupid. I have dyslexia and it can feel very draining at times.
But I am just honest with people and if they don’t like it..what can I do. I work in a school and sometimes a young person will say “Miss how do you spell” and then stop and say “Oh yer don’t worry miss I will ask someone else”. Because I tell people now. I don’t get angry. Or sad. I get a little frustrated, but I am only human. Thank God for spell check!
Imagine how diffrent my life would have been if I had been diagnosed at 14! One last thing… why would they make the world “Dyslexia” so bloody hard to spell!!!!!