They should have known 

My friend found my old spelling book in her cupboard, no idea why she had it, but it was in a box with her old school things. We looked through and on every page I had one or two out of ten correct. I remembered what school was like. I hated Monday mornings, knowing I was about to be ridiculed. Red pen everywhere, words crossed out and notes from the teacher. I’m not sure how I managed to get through school with the difficulties I had. They should have known then, they should have had me assessed.

I remember one time, a special teacher came to our class and asked us to read a page of text. I didn’t have a problem reading, I stumbled a couple of times, but I read confidently. What the teacher didn’t know was that I daydreamed through the entire thing. She asked me what the text was about, and I couldn’t answer. I hadn’t taken in a single piece of information about what I had just read. 

When I was at University, I finally pushed myself for an assessment. I knew I was dyslexic, even though nobody had ever tested me. I decided this was it, I needed to get this on paper so that I could get extra support to help me through my degree.

What I did not account for, was also having ADD. What’s that? Attention deficit disorder. It basically means I get bored really easily and can’t focus on things for a long period of time. So that’s why I’m always butting in at the wrong time during conversations. After the assessment had taken place, the assessor gave me some advice and I went back to my room to have a google. I was in shock. My whole personality was written there on the screen. I started to question myself, was I me, because of my special needs? Am I just a duplication of this information before me?

Now I’m a qualified teacher on a path to headship. I take pride in my differences. I take pride in my mistakes. I tell the kids I’m dyslexic and they laugh. How can you be a teacher if you can’t spell? Teaching has nothing to do with spelling. Teaching is about connecting with your learner and inspiring them to learn. 

I work in Alternative Education and there are too many young people coming through our doors that have not been assessed for special needs. Our staff can spot it within a week, but for some reason the school system has failed them over and over again, leading to frustration for the child and eventually being excluded from acting out. 

Don’t let your difficulties get in your way. You can be whatever you want in life. Spelling and grammar isn’t everything. In fact, it is my different style of learning that helps me think outside the box. Don’t think of a learning disability as a hindrance, think of it as a superpower!

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