Hi guys! My name is Jo Crawford and for my Extended Project Qualification I am making a documentary on whether the education system puts dyslexics at a disadvantage. As a dyslexic myself I have felt as though I have never been able to achieve my goals in school due to receiving no specialist help for my dyslexia and have been frequently put down by the common misconception that dyslexia means I'm "dumb."

So what I am asking you guys is this: I would really appreciate if you lovely dyslexic people out there could drop me a message, answering these following questions:

- Have you been diagnosed as being dyslexic, and when were you (if not please state)

- Do you feel as though you have received appropriate support for your dyslexia in school, and examples

- Have you felt as though you haven't received any support in areas in school, and examples

- Have you ever been mistreated for being dyslexic, (for example when teachers say that "you're not trying" when actually you just can't understand what they're telling you - down to your dyslexia)

- How does it make you feel when you're put down for being dyslexic/ not being able to keep up with your peers/ not reach your maximum potential - or if not please say

- What do you think should be done to overcome these issues in schools

Thank you so much - at a later I will be creating a survey with these questions in and sending it out on a mass scale, however I would much prefer to get an idea as to how big problem is before going out guns blazing!

23 Replies

  • I was diagnosed for dyslexia way back in the late 1960’s. I had failed the 3d grade but prior to that I had been sent to tutors. But both teachers and tutors said there was something more to my “troubles” with school.

    My parents took me to a local private university for testing one day. Afterwards they were informed that:

    A.I was not stupid.

    B.I was not retarded.

    C.I was something new called “Dyslexic”.

    D.I was 9 and had the mind of a 13 year old.

    Looking back I think a lot of it had to do with not getting more direct help with my learning.

    I remember back to the 1st grade and learning to read. I was sent to a tutor in the second half of the year. The first book we had to learn to read with was given to me by my tutor. I read through the whole book. I remember thinking that I had actually read the whole thing by myself. I vaguely remember the tutor talking to my parents about me after that session.

    Now years later I was sent to summer school to just work on my basic math. And with a tutor and another student, I mastered my basic math.

    I think had I had that kind of intense one on one with a tutor or in a setting with say no more than one or two more students with me; I might have mastered the mechanics of English Grammar.

    Or rather American English since I live in the US.

    I thank God every day for Spell Check.

    Now something I feel needs to be factored into my “falling through the cracks.” I am part of what is called the Baby Boomer Generation. After WWII the birth rate in the US shot through the room. I remember my 3d grade class having close to 50 students in it. Looking back I can see how a teacher would be easily overwhelmed.

    Couple this with leaving behind learning to read by teaching phonics, may have had an impact.

    But back in the 1960’s we had nothing on educating dyslexics. So I guess you could say kids like me were, for lack of a better term, “one off..” So not having “support” was not possible because simply, they didn’t know how to “support” us.

    Now have I been told I’m not applying myself, or not disciplined enough? Yes I have. But I don’t think I’ve ever been put down for being a dyslexic. Did children laugh at me in grade school for making mistakes? Yes they did. And yes it hurt.

    A side effect is that sadly my parents seemed to have set the “bar” low for me. It was “OK” if I didn’t go on to college. It was “OK” if I learned a trade. Or “Maybe we can start a business that you can learn and one day take over..”

    And for many years I actually felt “stupid” or just not “bright.”

    When I started college my first year was a large learning curve. I had to learn to study. And there were times I had to retake a class after failing or dropping out of it.

    BUT….one day something happened…

    I had to take Algebra for the third time. I had failed it twice. I almost dropped the course but didn’t at the last moment. But I dreaded having to face my academic adviser because he was going to see I had to take Algebra for the third time. I was really dreading this.

    Well, I handed him my class requests. Now, he is looking at it on a work bench. His back is to me. And then he says and I quote, “I see you’re taking Algebra again.” My worst fear had been realized. I felt the wind go out of my sails.

    Like I said, his back was to me. And then he said, without turning around, “You know, out of 128 people in that class 98 of them flunked. And because of that they are restructuring the class…”

    So 97 others flunked the thing!? There were 97 OTHERS!? Suddenly, I wasn’t feeling all that bad nor that stupid. I mean, there were 97 other stupid people in that class. Then he turned around and told me that there was only one “A” in the class as well. That did more for me then any tutor could ever have done.

    I walked out of that building feeling a whole lot better about myself. And I did pass it on the third try. But to this day, math, mostly beyond the basics is not my strong suit.

    Eventually I did receive my degree from Texas A&M University in History and a minor in Business. But I also came to accept the fact that I was not an “Honors” student. In fact my late business partner was a Mensa who was an Honors graduate. We worked well together. We were the Ying and Yang.

    On a side note, her parents had to deal with an infant that required little sleep. A child that learned to ready by age 3. And that was just the beginning... She was on one side of the spectrum and I on the other. I miss her dearly.

    But mainly, she saw something in me. Potential. And that I never gave up or give up. That is one of the greatest things I’ve learned to be is resilient. On the other hand, I’ve also seen those individuals who have never failed at anything or had a setback in their entire lives go through an emotional hell when they encounter it for the first time.

    I had to learn at an early age to deal with setbacks and overcome them. And at times I’ve had to help people in dealing with a setback.

    On a personal note I did find two things that did help me in dealing with being dyslexic. Comic books and typing.

    Comic books had pictures. They were a short read. They sparked my interest in reading. And in doing so, my reading improved. Eventually this lead to my interest in science fiction books. Then that lead to other interests. And to this day, I still read books.

    Typing I feel helped me to get letters wright in words. But only to a certain point. As one counselor informed me, “You’re just one of those people who’ll have to carry a dictionary around with them where ever you go…” Not bad advice actually. And this was years before word processing and Spell Check.

    So I don’t know if this will help you. But these are some of the things I have experienced in my life. Good luck with your project.

  • This is absolutely amazing, thank you so much for writing this! Do you mind if I can insert quotes from your reply in my EPQ?

  • Hi Jo , Good luck with the project - I was not diagnosed until my 40s, so no help/understanding/strategies to cope etc until my Masters degree. I tutor adults with dyslexia and there is an overwhelming (misplaced) lack of self esteem, self belief. We all seem to be dragged down by memories of school - especially reading aloud (hilarity and humiliation seemed actively encouraged as a punishment by staff). Feeling on the outside of the legitimate learning - like a charlatan waiting to be exposed and asked to leave (school, sixth form and uni). I believe if schools taught with multisensory techniques, big picture thinking as well as the sequential stuff and used learning styles, more students would be achieving - especially the dyslexic ones. On the whole the UK has a "wait to see who fails" non-inclusive system - then they blame the pupils for not being able to preform under a flat ,left-brain way of teaching.

  • Thank you so much - this is brilliant.

  • Hi their its nice to see you thinking of a survey. I feel that personally the education for dyslexia is bad as I was not diagnosed until I was 23 years of age. I was made to feel silly at school as I find English hard and didn't have any support as the school refused to do the special need test for dyslexia.

    Now being 27 years old and trying to do a veterinary nurse course, I have the help is awful as their do not really have any helped. I think this is because partly it a small branch from a big college which does not really know the need of each dyslexia need. As we all know dyslexia effect people differently.

    At school I was taken out of English lessons and found it hard to keep up with my peeps. And even now doing this college course I always behind my peeps and been asked to return of 6 months longer for extra tutoring on a subject which I found hard.

  • Thank you so much, this is really useful information!

  • - Have you been diagnosed as being dyslexic, and when were you (if not please state) No i have not been diagnosed.

    - Do you feel as though you have received appropriate support for your dyslexia in school, and examples - NO, i was not offered any kind of test but i do know od people now who have been tested. Interestingly because i was not diagnosed at school when i went to University i was not able to take advantage of the support they offered.

    - Have you felt as though you haven't received any support in areas in school, and examples, I do not think i received any support for any learning. I happened to be friends with some very intelligent and quick learning kids from a young age i guess i was either hidden or i hid things well. Always struggled to read out loud in class, i would get words mixed up and struggled to sight read, if i knew what was coming it was much easier. I also avoided reading as i did not enjoy it as i found it so hard, so all my reviews of the weekly reading books were a summary of the back of the book or the first few and last few pages. No one seemed to check or ask so i continued along this path until things got a little more challenging. I think when i left school i had still not completed to read an entire book cover to cover.

    - Have you ever been mistreated for being dyslexic, (for example when teachers say that "you're not trying" when actually you just can't understand what they're telling you - down to your dyslexia) Spelling i was often bumped back down the ranks in spelling tests when everyone else seemed to be whizzing ahead. This was hard as although the teachers never said i was stupid, i did feel stupid. I also have messy writing, a teacher once wrote on the bottom of my work "do you seriously expect me to be able to read this" they handed the work back to me without marking it infront of the whole class.

    On the other hand when i have done well (maths second class) i did really well in a mock GCSE. I somehow got top of the class (something that never happened to me) they then said our class did so bad that we were not going to take that exam. I complained and asked if i could do it and yet got no support from the teachers. My mate in top class gave me the practice exams they were doing in class and i did my work out of school to get my 10th GCSE in Statistics- no thanks to the school.

    - How does it make you feel when you're put down for being dyslexic/ not being able to keep up with your peers/ not reach your maximum potential - or if not please say I pushed myself as hard as i could, sometimes was too hard on myself, i did no know i was dyslexic, i guess i still don't for sure, so i though i was thicker than the average person, so in my case if i tried 10 times more than anyone else i could reach B's and C's. I was happy with that.

    - What do you think should be done to overcome these issues in schools: I think that some schools hand out dyslexic cards left right and center - every one is dyslexic, everyone is depressed, everyone is XYZ, it is all too easy to put a badge on someone and throw free stuff at it like software, camera's, Ipods, ipads, etc.. Dyslexics are not poor, they are not thick, they just need to understand what we might struggle with and what we might be good at.

    I think it is crucial that if kids avoid reading/spelling/mental arthimatic they should be given time away from the main class where these points are addressed and discussed. Kids get embarrassed and this is part of the problem, noone wants to be different, or to stand out and look stupid. But they need to be encouraged as english and Maths are so important in later years that this has to be a focus. It would also be good to help them understand what thye are good at. Creative /design/inventive/scientific etc...

    Hope this helps :)

  • Perfect - thank you so much!

  • Hi Jo

    I am a mum to a wonderful dyslexic boy. With this I feel u are opening a huge can of worms. My boy is 10, he was only diagnosed last September after we paid privately to have a PATOSS assessor diagnose him. I am an adult ed tutor and I know the signs, symptoms and behaviours associated with dyslexia, but I am not an expert. I knew when he was four that he was dyslexic, his reading was just not connecting and he really played up when asked to read or write.

    The school he was at basically said it was in my head, he was not dyslexic. We argued with them for ages, in year two he 'passed' his SATs, despite the fact he could not read, when I asked him how he said that one of the TAs took him into a separate Room and told him what to write?

    The school eventually agreed to a spotlight assessment which said he should be taught as dyslexic, but did not diagnose dyslexia, they said that they wanted to reassess in two years, but the school never did the assessment again. Even though I specifically asked.

    He was never given any support for his dyslexia even though he had a statement? They flatly refused to have him assessed and even went so far as to say he wasn't dyslexic. We had him assessed ourselves and when I presented a copy of the report the heads immediate reaction was what colour overlays does he needs, that was his solution?

    Our son has since had an Irlens test and has Irlens glasses and he is very happy, but we moved area earlier this year and he is at a new school who have been so much better, he has specific handwriting support, he gets support during lessons and next year we have asked is he can use Dragon Naturally speaking for extended writing projects, which they have said yes.

    There are some good schools out there who try to support all children with SEN, but there are also some schools who don't and in my experience they seem to be more common.

    What is needed is better training during initial teacher training for all SEN not just dyslexia, for current teachers there should be a mandatory course for SEN that they all MUST undertake within a reasonable time scale, if they don't then they should no longer be allowed to teach. I have a brother who is severely dyslexic, he was diagnosed as an adult after struggling for over 40 years, back when he was a child it was not recognised, now it is and this attitude of some schools is just unforgivable.

    Good luck with your studies, if you are like my son you will succeed as you have to put in more effort and that makes you more determined not to waste a single opportunity. I hope this helps.

  • Thank you so much, I take you're advice on board!

  • Hi my son is 9 and was diagnosed as dyslexic, dyscalculia and dysgraphia at 7. His mainstream primary school was not well equipped to deal with his difficulties and so he was greatly effected by low self esteem and carried much baggage with learning. He was tested by an Ed Psych who said he was at the floor of the centile scale and needed to be in a specialist school. I fought the Local Authority and won him a place at a specialist dyslexic school and the improvement is amazing. He has just done his first year and his self esteem and confidence is greatly improved.

  • Thank you so much, greatly appreciated

  • Hi, on behalf of my 9yr old son...

    A. We fought for a diagnosis as school Ed Pysch said he wasn't. Dyslexia action said he has moderate dyslexia.

    B. Absolutely no understanding in school, especially of the memory and organisational problems dyslexia brings with it. The myth of just not being able to read or words get jumbled still exists.

    C. My son is 'ok' in maths but struggles with doing sums in his head. He gets upset and the pressure builds when he tries to learn the same way as others. He cannot recall times tables due to the short term and working memory issues. No strategies are presented, you have to find out what works for him yourself. He struggled pulling a term long project together as couldn't do it in written form and had no organisation skills to pull it together so was told not to bother doing it. They'd rather he didn't do it than take time to find a way for him. It should be .....he can't do it THIS WAY so let's find a way he can. This is why children fall behind, not due to their intellegence but because they need to find strategies to open their learning behaviour.

    D. Punished for not finishing work on time (usually by losing his playtime), teacher refusing to mark work as it wasn't neat enough, couldn't copy from board so would get 'lost' in lessons. Told he was lazy, daydreamer etc. being placed on low ability tables for every subject as outwardly unable to express himself. Being told he's dumb by other kids. Not nice.

    E. My son is very sensitive and doesn't like to discuss his dyslexia. It's very raw for him. We discuss dyslexia in a positive manner and use role models. The hardest part is that he's so young he hasn't got the maturity to handle the negative feelings it gives him.

    F. This does need to be tackled in schools. Starting with their ignorance of the conditon. Considering the high profile dyslexia has been given and the resources out there the understanding in the teaching progression is appalling. If you compared a dyslexic with someone in a wheelchair there is no way the school would not widen doors to let the wheelchair through. Yet there is no recognition of the disability dyslexia (it is a recognised disability) within the school to enable the child to lead a 'normal' school life. I think schools are missing a trick. I'm sure the schools that Richard Branson, Alan Sugar, Jamie Oliver, James Martin etc are all proud of their past pupils yet they all talk of unhappy schooling. Schools should be nurturing these talented people, dyslexia is a gift and my son will never feel ashamed of it. It will take time but I will fight his corner all the way.

  • Thank you so much - everything you're son has and is going through I can relate to completely - you're advice has been brilliant, thank you.

  • You're very welcome. We also learn so much from dyslexic adults. I have written examples if you would like some x

  • Yes please that would be perfect!

  • What's your email?

  • jo-crawford@live.co.uk

  • I'll send you some examples of teacher comments x

  • Hi, I am Marina, I left school when I was 13 years old as I felt I couldn't understand the work. The system let me down. The school board where not there to help me get back into school and I had a troubled childhood of bullying by peers and family as some thought I was dumb. I did discover I am dyslexic about 6 years ago as I went back to college to do a florist course. I was diagnosed with the writing and reading ability of age 10 years old. I was then aged 37, I have an IQ of 125, apparently but I am not sure if this is high or low for an average person. I have learned how to cope with my dyslexia for years and I seem to look at everything with rose tinted glasses, which I really can not help.

    I have been bullied most of my childhood and I was dominated for a few years by my ex husband. The abuse can be hard to take and after leaving school and my family, I thought that the bullying was all over, until I got married. He was lovely at first then he slowly got rid of my friends. I was called a retard and stupid and belittled at every turn. I stuck it out for a few years, as I had our son to think about. He did not know until after the divorce that I was Dyslectic. I still get called a retard by my ex partner and he has also learn't my son to call me a retard and other abusive names. So the bullying is still on going but now by my 11 year old son. My son has problems himself which we are now addressing through the help of CAMHS. I am a hard working person and I have had to hide my dyslexia from employment as I was always worried that I would not get the job. Thanks to computers I now have two jobs working for a University and the NHS.

    I do get my up and down days with my dyslexia. I can not sleep as my mind is always working overtime. This then can make me really tired and as soon as I sit down I am asleep. I can not take some medications as it knocks me all to pot. A simple antihistamine and I am out cold on the couch or people think you are drunk as I can not function properly on some medications so now I don't take any except paracetamol. I do think that dyslexia is not understood and people do think that you are or can be stupid. I know I have difficulties with reading and writing but it can also affect your speech and if you are under pressure you can get muddled up and can not talk so you look dumb. Memory is another it can be quite a task to remember appointment or of any kind and again unless it is routine it can knock you all to pot. I can not help how my brain functions and works but I know god made everyone different, and well I am just slightly different to others who are apparently normal, but are they?

  • So sorry to hear about this - you're so brave. Thank you so much for your input, really appreciate it.

  • Hi Jo

    Please get in touch directly at sanderson@dyslexiaaction.org.uk to tell me a little more about the documentary you are making and we'll see if we can help you further.


    Stephanie Anderson

    Policy Research and Communications Officer

  • I was only diagnosed two weeks ago, despite the many colleagues, teachers etc. who have seen my work over the years. At 40 and having got through university and various jobs, this is something of a surprise. It was only after a huge amount of work stress in the last couple of years (working as a project manager in an engineering field) that my partner (who has a psychology degree and wide experience of mentoring etc. in industry) thought that dyslexia might be at the root of it and pushed me to get assessed.

    So no, I have not suffered unduly as a result of the diagnosis (yet). I think it would have really helped my path through university and choosing an appropriate career if I had know this long ago. Clearly I had unwittingly developed strategies that had taken me a long way, but these had started to fail due to shifts of emphasis at work. This has made recent times hugely stressful as my employer and I were stumped by why some things came so easily and other tasks proved to be so much harder.

    Looking ahead, I am trying to grasp the positives and will hopefully get some tutoring and do my own research to relearn what I need to and start making things run more smoothly. Although academically I veered towards science, there is an artistic facet to me, particularly with writing and performing poetry and songs. During some poetry workshops at a festival recently I was described as a 'wide spectrum person'. I took this as a compliment on my breadth of interests, not knowing at the time quite what was underlying it.

    To conclude though, I am genuinely baffled as to how little publicised and understood the condition is amongst the teachers, bosses, HR professionals I have seen over the years. Anything that might raise the profile and lead to earlier appropriate action and help for people can only be a good thing.

    Good luck with your work!

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