Dyslexia Action

Not knowing if I have dyslexia


My name is Nadine and I'm 18 years old now I have struggled all my life throughout my education and no one ever wanted to help me no teachers.

In primary school, they give me speech therapy which did help as I wasn't able to hear sounds of letters when trying to spelling or missing out letters and so on. I can't take any instructions as soon as they are read I will instantly forget what it was to do which I always struggle repeatedly to this day. I don't struggle with reading I just don't like it because as soon as I read a paragraph or a page I don't know what it is on about. I have had a tutor since an early age helping with English I am able to speak what I would like to stay but I can't translate it onto paper it is never makes sense always in different tenses and when trying to get my point across its not in on small paragraph it's usually a page. When doing assignments I don't get any help from my tutor in college only at home which is private but then I still have trouble. I have found that white on black is no good for me I have trouble with it but I have used yellow and feel its easier for me to understand. I lose concentration after 5 minutes if the tutor talks for the full other I don't what's happening.

I have difficulty with planning and writing essays, letters, or reports I often avoid as I am able to do but is never correct as it all comes out wrong even though I know what I want to stay but doesn't come out.

I have poor memory I have always got to write everything down as I will instantly forget what has just been said or if my mum told me to do something I forget or if a tutor asks or tells I can't remember. I also have poor time management as I still don't know the time or don't know how long it is until that time of day it has always got to be told to me in digital. I have always struggled and I can speak my mind but that's the only way. I have struggled with simplest words and even have blocks which are daily. I do prefer to use a laptop as I'm more likely to do work but always struggle to understand what the questions ask to do or even I will miss it out as I'm not able to understand. This frustrates the hell out of me wears me down as I struggle so much all my life they just say I have the lack of self-esteem or confidence which I don't. I am able to watch tv and able to explain what is going on which I do watch a lot of TV but I enjoy as I can understand what is going on. Out of know where I have an interest in the sport which no one in the family does but I watch all types of sports and able to explain what it's all about having conversations with people even though I don't play. I know what's going on which is very strange but I enjoy very much. I am a visual learner which doesn't help me but I don't get any help from anyone exempt outside if I could avoid English I would I also struggle with spelling and other things like I can't even tell my right from left. I think the reason why I don't get help is because of my GCSE aren't too bad I only had C's and D's but the reason I got them was with outside tutoring and revising even though no of it would go in I would never be able to process information. My mum has tried everything for me been down every route because it really affects me knowing why can't I do this stuff even though I can it's so frustrating it even brings a tear to my eyes. Whenever I handed in assignments they were always wrong due to the wording of it and the spelling mistakes and repetition constantly but never wanted to give help. I just want some clarification for me so I know that I'm not completely dumb as I have two brainy brothers and sister which doesn't make it easy for me but I'm just wondering why do I have all these little problems all the time struggling with English and even the time not being able to start essays always having someone to do it for me.

I have been down the line of a psychologist but it's still not any clarification for me because I had some trouble off a tutor due to these problems. I feel like I always hit a brick wall all through my life. I went down the line of private it buts its far too expensive and there are so many tests that it not correct. It's just annoying due to struggling I have made my techniques by using colour paper using highlights for example pink for important yellow for things to understand but not so important and so on. I just need some advice I'm 18 years old and just want to know what is wrong of is it because I'm a slow learner I always needed help. But they don't care because I have ok results in what I do so they just assume I'm fine. But they don't know the truth it will take me at least three weeks to understand assignments it doesn't take a day it takes a very long time for me.

9 Replies

I'm in America so I don't know where you can go to get evaluated. However from your description you definitely sound dyslexic...and no you don't sound stupid. You probably have problems getting your point across because you don't think sequentially. (Common dyslexic problem.) However this is also called "Lateral Thinking" and corporations spend millions sending their executives off to courses learning to think like a dyslexic so they can solve problems. Of course this doesn't help you because the school system is forcing you to learn in a manner that your brain has problems with. They might as well be teaching you in Chinese. You aren't the one who is stupid, they are!

You said you can speak more eloquently than you can write (believe it or not, I have the opposite problem.) You might look online for speech to text apps (there are also text to speech that can read to you.) Some are free, some cost. Don't buy one until you check it out to see if it works for you. Most have a trial version you can download and try out. Also check out reviews for potential problems. And if the reviews are from Dyslexics swearing this is a God-send, keep in mind that no two dyslexics are alike and it may not work best for you.

I know this isn't much help. Keep checking back because there are a couple of UK dyslexic experts that come on here all the time and know the workings of the powers that be there.

Don't give up. Last weekend I met a "stupid" dyslexic who did horrible in school. He now has a PhD in Computer Science and is a professor at the University of Idaho as well as a Science Fiction writer. When we can't go through the front door, we dyslexics can always find a back door "muggles" (normal people) miss.


I love the word "muggles" I've never heard it before!!


Hello Nadine,

I am a special needs teacher with years of experience of teaching people with dyslexia. I think you need to look further than the errors you make when you write, because you actually write extremely well. This is an excellent account of your symptoms, history, and your concerns. From reading what you have written I can immediately see that you are a very intelligent person, just like your brothers and sister. So there's absolutely nothing to worry about in that sense. I cannot say whether or not you are dyslexic, but I strongly suspect that you are. I am dyslexic and so is my 17 year old son.

Here are a few practical tips I hope will help you.

Look up dyslexiaaction.org.uk/ they will help you sort out what to do to get diagnosed. They will be able to help with practical things. You need to be screened because if you are dyslexic, then you'll be entitled to help with your exams and studies.

Talk to your special needs department at your college /school. Make an appointment to see someone. Print out what you wrote here and give it to them to read and print out my response too so that they can see how you've been looking for help. It is a legal requirement for all schools and colleges to help people with special needs in every way possible. If you have already told them, then go again. Don't let them fob you off. Tell a tutor you trust how you feel. I'm so happy to read that your mum understands - she must feel very frustrated too, because believe me she'll know only too well how clever you are - and you need to believe it too, that will help your self-confidence a lot.

My son is passionate about music and I have encouraged him to follow that path. Are you studying sport? I hope so because your heart is in that area. Maybe you could find a sport to play, and do a PE or sports course at college. B.Tech courses are great because they are practical and many don't have formal exams. Many dyslexic people have things they excel at, for example Stephen Spielberg left school at a young age to follow his heart, and he became a great film director. He didn't find out he was dyslexic till he was 60 years old, but he'd always had problems writing! There are many other famous dyslexic people. Google it - you may be surprised. You are in very good company.

Listen to ebooks: Ebooks will help your written English in every way. Listen to good English on your laptop. There are so many excellent books online, and many of them are free too! You really don't need to bother with the actual book, just relax, and listen to it - bedtime is the best time. The more good English you hear the better. This is the best way to improve your writing style. It will take time but it definitely works. This is probably the most important piece of advice I can give you. People who enjoy reading typically write well because they have 'good' English in their minds. Dyslexic people find reading hard, but we are lucky now because we have the technology to help us. Please listen to good books.

Technology is essential for writing: grammar and spell checks are there to help us. My son has been using a keyboard since he was very little. It's taken me quite a long time to write this to you, I wouldn't be able to write at all using pen and paper. Technology helps everybody not only dyslexics. Also, you can speak into your computer and it writes for you! Go to Google Chrome and Google Docs. Open a new document and you'll see a microphone on the left, click on that and your voice will activate writing. It's brilliant! (make sure your computer's internal mic is turn on) Ask your teachers to check your work before they grade it, so you can make the necessary corrections.

Lots of dyslexic people are visual learners. Plan you essays by using mind maps or flow charts, and writing frames. You can look all these up online. Simple things writers use to help them keep their ideas organised.

As far as understanding questions, that's hard for most students too! Use a highlighter to break the question down into parts and tackle each part separately. Questions usually help you structure your essays.

Please keep in touch through this forum. I'm sure other people will have lots more practical ideas to add.

Good luck.




Thank you for the reply,

I'm currently studying a level 3 professional patisserie which is all practical but still having to use English as I have questions on the topics I do in the kitchen along with the repetitive of evidence sheets. I know I'm intelligent as I have a talent for sport and baking. I have just recently installed a device to my computer that allows to pick up on every mistake wrong tense and maybe the wrong wording I use I wish I only discovered it earlier. I have also been recording every lesson I am in so it does help but still struggles to write. I also struggle with the time of how long I have to do it which I will put off to the last minutes because I can't do it I'm a very confident person after being through some very traumatic experiences throughout my life which took away my education along with the struggles I have yes I'm lucky that I support at home and lot of people are worse off than I am very lucky..

All my life I have continuously asked been through my tutor's mum even went to my last school had a meeting with the SENCO lady I had written down a list of all what I was seeing and feeling with the struggles I have she fob me off by saying how good my grades where yes they weren't bad enough for me to have a dyslexia test or the help I could have so she said we just give u extra time that was it. If it wasn't for my private tutor I don't even know if I would have the qualifications I have now because the way he taught me one to one was brilliant he knew what problems I had and started to teach me a way that would help to understand that has finished this year as I will be coming out of college because of other issues.

My mum knows someone high up in college he could only manage to get me some support in college but not a test which was very helpful i spoke to her and explained she also fobbed me off saying there was no knead for a test we can just help so she would write why I would speak but she would put it in a better way. This then stopped because she was only there because the other lady was on maternity leave which she was no good couldn't help with my assignments whats so ever that's when things suffered more. When my mum went to a meeting with my tutors yet again told her I was doing fine which I was but because I learn to cope and do the work with a teacher private which they didn't understand. A number of people I have told and pushed for over the last 18 years they will not listen at all. I been in college for 3 years they will not give me a test been to the highest people which I did have a meeting and then in level 2 I was told I was entitled to a reader which I didn't get in level one so that helped but that only lasted for half the year, not the full year.

At the start of level 2, I was flagged up on my tutor's computer for support and he told me its all in my head there is nothing wrong you don't need support which was in front of the whole class. From that day on he never gave me any help with my assignments he said you can do it do it yourself.

I get that they have to stop giving out so much help because of the levels but as I struggle surely he should have seen from my assignments I struggle instead he tore them apart by saying that it doesn't make sense spelling errors rather than giving me the help to do it I persevered with it and made sure that it was a high mark which it was will all the help from my outside tutor who would practically give me all the information for me to understand what it is asking and little inprops to push me to think yes I get it.

We have tried so many times and pushed we have now given up for the moment because we hit a brick wall all the time so it frustrates my mum but she knows how hard it is but she cants do know more anymore. Also, I find that I have blocks where I simply can't stay what I want which is frustrating and annoying because I'm not able to do any work because of it or if I have an argument or banter with my brother or sister is not able to speak the way I want too. It just wears me out and drains me as well.

I really appreciate you leaving me a reply and some very handy tips that I can use in my daily life.


Just to say thanks for the link Giovanna, I'm 57 and really only just starting out on the journey of seeking assessment and acknowledging there is an issue which isn't 'all just not applying myself and concentrating enough', so that simple link to Dyslexia Action is really helpful. :-) :-)


It really is shocking to read how badly your college tutors are treating you. You and your mum have had a real battle on your hands. You have done so well with working out your own strategies and coping mechanisms. I'm pleased you're doing a practical course. If you carry on working as hard as you are then you will get your professional qualification and the academic stuff will end. You will be able to work in your chosen profession without having to worry about essays and assignments. Sometimes frustration causes mental blocks. I know this is easy for me to say, but try to be calm about the way you are - give yourself a break - be kinder to yourself - take a step back and you'll see that you are actually coping despite all your difficulties, which shows what a strong person you are. Life after college will be so different - believe me life starts after formal education ends. Keep in touch.

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Depends on your college, and where you are from. If you are from the UK it is extremely easy to get a dyslexic diagnosis (if you are dyslexic).

Usually they will have an office especially for "special needs", where you can go in and just say "I think I'm dyslexic, can we arrange to have me tested?"

Then they will likely have you do a test on a computer first to see how probable it is that you are dyslexic. Telling by what you've said, you probably are dyslexic. So once the computer test says there is a high probability that you are dyslexic they will send you for an official diagnosis.

I suspect the American system is similar?

As for struggling, my dyslexic experience has been that the more you force yourself to write the better you get. Always be over critical of your writing, I always have a rule for myself that I cannot say the same descriptive word twice in one sentence. This helps expand your vocabulary thus improving your spelling. I also think it helps your "long term memory" to notice patterns in words, which helps you be able to have an educated guess at words you cannot spell.

For me though, it does become too difficult with words that have 3 syllables in with the word pattern technique.

I think you just have to trail and error ways of thinking untill something sticks. Unfortunately us dyslexics often end up having to figure it out alone


Hey, I wasn't picked up until I was 27 as i applied for a post graduate degree. A few things have always flagged up but I never bothered finding out. I was actually a teaching assistant for 3 years and it wasn't until i overheard my boss was asking a student a list of questions and i found myself answering 'yes' to most of those. I discussed this with her and found out she was asking questions around dyslexia (she knew my dad and sister were both diagnosed) so she did a screening test from a book (there are some online too) - they might give you an idea on whats what depending on the outcome. If you're in education still, the provider will be able to get you tested so it won't cost you. Pop along to the student support area and see what they can advise you with


Already done that still nothing I explained everything but nothing came of it me and my mum have done everything but nothing has worked


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