At the age of 12, when I moved from New Delhi, India to Jakarta, Indonesia, I had to take written entrance exams for my new school. This was my first experience realising my low reading speed and spelling difficulties. However, due to my preparation for these exams and my understanding of the subjects, I was able to push through.
From the beginning of my IGCSE English course, I was able to see a noticeable difference in my reading ability and speed relative to my classmates. Class readings of Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck and An Inspector Calls by J. B. Priestley and John Scicluna caused me much anxiety. I dreaded being called upon to read a chapter in front of the whole class. This experience led me to take action. In July 2016 I took a diagnostic educational assessment, which analysed my reading, memory, writing, and phonological skills, and helped me determine how to best develop these.
When I was finally diagnosed with dyslexia, I felt as if a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. For the first time, I was able to fully understand why I struggled with these areas of my academics. Additionally, it allowed my teachers to understand me better as a student and to envisage how to help me improve academically.
Dyslexia is a common learning difficulty that involves problems identifying speech sounds and their relation to letters and words. It results from individual differences in the areas of the brain responsible for processing language. Dyslexic people might confuse similar sounding words, make spelling errors, take longer to read or write, and struggle with concentration. However, they are often skilled in other areas, such as problem solving and creative thinking.
Through understanding my condition, I was able to treat it and give myself better opportunities to succeed. I was granted 25 percent extra time during exams to counter my slow reading and processing speed. Additionally, I was able to use a computer during exams due to my writing speed issues. By taking consistent touch typing courses, I was able to maximise the assistance I was given during exams to allow myself as much time as possible for reading questions and processing my answers.
Through accepting my condition and researching more about it, I also learnt just how common dyslexia is. According to the Yale Centre for Dyslexia and Creativity, 15-20 percent of the global population is affected by dyslexia and it accounts for 80-90 percent of all learning difficulties globally, thus, proving the importance of understanding this common learning difficulty.
I’m now at Oxford Brookes University studying for an undergraduate degree in International Business Management, pursuing my passion of business and entrepreneurship. After five years of growing to understand my dyslexia, I can see dramatic improvement as I've been able to confidently tackle problems head on. Although everyone is different and there is no one correct way to cope with dyslexia, one thing that remains common in all methods is persistence.
Initially, when I was diagnosed with dyslexia I used it as an excuse to not get involved in class reading and avoided reading as much as possible. However, in recent years I've come to accept my flaws and have surprised myself by reading books for my own enjoyment. Through reading books on business and cryptocurrency for my courses, as well as mystery and detective novels, I have seen dramatic improvement in my reading skills. Not only have I been able to silently read at a much quicker pace but I can also now read out loud confidently. Furthermore, reading has helped my vocabulary in my assignments and general day to day life.
If someone you know takes longer than others to read or complete a writing task, or makes mistakes while doing so, be patient with them – they may have a learning difficulty.
The first step in improvement is always acceptance, whether that is for your own difficulty, your child’s, or your friend’s. At the start of my dyslexia journey I put off getting tested as I was afraid of the result that I would find. However, I hope you can realise from my example and many others around the world that it’s okay to struggle with dyslexia. The key is to do something about it.