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How my diagnosis opened doors

FunnymanFunnyman Posts: 1Member Listener
edited October 16 in Guest blogs

35-year-old John (who wishes to remain anonymous) grew up without support or a diagnosis for his dyslexia and didn’t care. It was only when his learning difficulty prevented him from following his dream career that he realised how important it was that he got the support he needed.

I was always up for a laugh at school. Pranks, skits, one-liners — you name it. I was the funny one and never not mucking about. The actual work didn’t come easily, but no-else would’ve known just how much I struggled. The one time I mentioned that the letters wouldn’t stay still, everybody laughed and not in the way that made me feel good. After that, it just became a bit of a joke.

It wasn’t really a conscious thing back then, but it’s clear now that I was always deflecting. If I was funny, charming or full of life, people didn’t bother to look too closely. They didn’t notice the fact I was still following Biff, Chip and Kipper about, years after everyone else had left them behind. The fact I couldn’t read was just another funny thing about me and I played up to it. My mum hadn’t liked school — it wasn’t for her, so she didn’t notice. Keeping your head down and being everyone’s mate was all that really mattered. Reading just wasn’t important, if anything it was a badge of pride to be a bit thick, to not be a boffin. Any talk of having a learning difficulty was laughed off and I preferred it that way. All I really wanted was to be a policeman anyway and in my mind, that was all about chasing and arresting burglars (preferably with the theme tune to The Bill blaring in the background!)

A blurred image of a police motorcycle

Primary School was a struggle and by Secondary School I —and every teacher I’d met— had given up. I left school at 16 with a bunch of Es and Ungradeds and that’s when it all stopped being funny. Not being able to read when you’re six is endearing, but at 16 it just looks a bit sad. As it turned out, being a policeman was an unlikely dream that involved a lot more than finding bad guys and protecting people, and for ten years I just bounced around building sites and warehouses where I could still be everyone’s mate and nobody would ever ask me to read passages from Romeo and Juliet.

It wasn’t until I met my Nikki (now my wife) at a New Year’s Eve party that things started to change. She was a Primary School teacher and about as patient as you could ask for, but it still took months before I could admit to her that I couldn’t read. It was her who put the idea that I might be dyslexic in my head and from then on, in the evenings and on the weekends, she taught me to read and encouraged me to go back to school. With her help I eventually gave in and enrolled on some courses at my local college, but even though the teachers there were more understanding, I still struggled to get the support I needed without a diagnosis. For that I needed to go private, but how could I justify paying for a piece of paper just to tell me I couldn’t read? I already knew that. What was the point?

I had a supportive partner, the ability to read, and a baby on the way. I should’ve been happy, but when I read, it still took a lot of effort and unlike my faded dreams of becoming WWF Champion or scoring the winner at Anfield, I still really wanted to be a policeman. It seemed attainable and for anyone else it would be. I knew I’d never be happy until I gave it a proper go.

So with a bit of encouragement from Nikki, I looked into joining again and rather than turn me away, they encouraged me to get an official diagnosis and actually helped me with getting it. It was a big step and I was convinced opening up about my difficulties with reading and writing would throw up all sorts of obstacles. Instead, it actually opened doors — I had a name for it now.

With an official diagnosis, I had all the support I needed to make it through training and while I took a bit of stick for it (and the fact I was a more than a few years older than the other recruits), I was allowed extra reading time and the opportunity to use an overlay. They offered a lot of support and most of that wouldn’t have been possible without the official diagnosis. I didn’t even need all of it, but knowing it was available and there were people who were happy to support me with my dyslexia gave me a ton of confidence. Accepting my diagnosis and seeking support for it wasn’t easy, but it’s given me opportunities that I didn’t have when I was ‘just stupid’ and couldn’t read. It’s not a miracle cure and I won’t be picking up Shakespeare any time soon, but just having a name for it helps make people listen.

Do you have a learning difficulty? Did an official diagnosis change anything for you? Tell us in the comments below!

Replies

  • AilsAils Posts: 1,076Community champion Disability Gamechanger
    This is a powerful and informative guest blog, @Funnyman.   Thanks for sharing it with us.  It just goes to show how you should never give up on your dream and so glad that you got your diagnosis in the end which has obviously benefited you a lot.  Wishing you all the best in your career!  :smile:
  • April2018momApril2018mom Posts: 2,255Member - under moderation Disability Gamechanger
    Thanks for sharing @funnyman

  • dolfrogdolfrog Posts: 344Member Pioneering
    edited October 16
    Hi @Funnyman ;

    How found out yet what trhe underlying cognitive cause of your dyslexia is? 
    The Temporal type of Auditory Processing Disorder is the underlying cognitive cause of my dyslexia symptom.

    Being identified as being dyslexic in my early 40s was not really that helpful. However the clinical diagnosis of my Auditory Processing Disorder which is the underlying cause of my dyslexia symptom explained the route of my life a great deal.
    Especially the Random Gap Detection Test which measures the size of gap between sounds that an individual can process. when I did the test back in 2003, it s=di nor include a gap large enough for me to process, which explains why I have problems procesing those who for mw talik too fast, which for me is just one continuous unintelligable noise, and why I am not cognitively able to use phonics or have probglems phonetically sounding out new and or unfamiliar words from text.
    Obviously there are many other symptoms besides the dyslexia symptom. 

  • FelixxFelixx Posts: 13Member Connected
    It's stories like this that depress me the most, after 40+ yrs I have finally been diagnosed with dyslexia, ADHD and ASD. I may also have an auditory processing issue(undiagnosed) and a Tic disorder that may have been diagnosed as a child but until I see my health records I have no idea. 

    For me the diagnosis lifted a weight off me, only to replace it with a much larger weight, Still get ridiculed, still refused help, in fact, I would say after diagnosis the situation became worse. Worst of all I have faced this alone for 40+ years and I'm likely to face the next 40+ years in the same boat.
  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Posts: 3,889Administrator Scope community team
    Sorry to hear this @Felixx. Can I ask where it is you find you’re being refused help?
    Senior Online Community Officer
    Scope
  • vicky6578vicky6578 Posts: 1Member Listener
    Hi my name is vicky ,it was not tell I was at college, I found out I had that as well ,so found it really hard when I was younger x
  • AilsAils Posts: 1,076Community champion Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @vicky6578 and welcome to the Community.  Thanks for sharing this with us.  If there is anything we can do to help/support you then please just let us know.  All the best.  :smile:
  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Posts: 3,889Administrator Scope community team
    Welcome @vicky6578 and thanks for sharing that. As Ails said, please let us know if we can help with anything.
    Senior Online Community Officer
    Scope
  • AnniAnni Posts: 14Member Connected
    I have cerebral palsy and struggled with maths throughout school, and with directions when I learned to drive. I told my Scope fieldworker I thought I was losing my memory as I couldn’t remember how to get from my house to the cathedral: having lived in the city all my life it was really scary not to know how to get to such a big landmark. She told me it had just been discovered that people with CP can have symptoms very similar to dyslexia. I was 27. Last year I got an appointment with a neuropsychologist who gave me a formal diagnosis: Non-verbal (ie I don’t have difficulty with words) learning difficulty. This will be especially useful when dealing with formal agencies, as my three pages on how it affects me were completely ignored at my PIP assessment last year!
  • mendipmarkmendipmark Posts: 22Member Listener
    My diagnosis with a terminal kidney disease firmly closed a lot of doors. Deaspite three degrees and being a part qualiified accountant with good grades and experience I could not get a permanent job because of the possibility of needing dialysis at that point ten or more years away and having letters from my consultant expressung my reasonably good health. My application was often cancelled at iapplication interview or if I got through to a trial the company medical for the life policy..

    Discrimination is rife.
  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Posts: 5,360Administrator Scope community team
    Hi @mendipmark, I'm sorry to hear this. I imagine this is very frustrating when you are obviously more than capable of the role!

    Are you looking for work at the moment? Here are a Scope's employment services if you are. 

    Please do let us know if we can do anything else to help. :)
    Chloe
    Online Community Officer
  • vysvadervysvader Posts: 132Member Courageous
    edited October 30
    Hi,

    That's a heartbreaking story...
    Funnyman said:

    who wishes to remain anonymous

    Yea, anonymous... Additionally, remarkably, John has put a big emphasis on his well-guarded (medical) privacy, the confidentiality of patient records, so somebody could see it in the way that he doesn't speak in general, he wishes to remain anonymous because, in a safety-conscious manner, he very well realizes that not all, but the vast majority of "doors" would be quickly closed straightaway in the front of him. So, i.e., obviously, somebody can seem to think, he doesn't recommend others what he doesn't for himself.

    I wish you all the best!  

    Funnyman said:

    Do you have a learning difficulty? Did an official diagnosis change anything for you? Tell us in the comments below!

    I don't have any learning difficulty, in fact, I've got papers saying the opposite, however, yes... I used to have a temporary diagnose and It changed a lot. It was a totally unrelated diagnosis, but anyone uneducated in psychology, neurology, or anything related doesn't really see/know any difference (I'd already heard many diagnoses from pseudo-intellectual amateurs like depression, phobia, schizophrenia, etc... but none guessed correctly what I got diagnosed), they've got just the simplest thoughts and words like: "mad, crazy, stupid" and their thinking about it seems to be totally timeless (there's no chronology). Usually, people see it as a reason to not recognize my education and so on... and "feel/express upset and aggressive" when I propagate my education or anything else as I'm supposed to do for whatsoever the reasons are that the schools give me papers/proves about it, the government even gives me income tax-deduction for advertisement (e.g. for Google Adwords), etc... just to propagate and get recognized my abilities/skills, cognitive abilities, any high in-demand abilities that integrate me either in the work market and society...

    Best regards,
    J. Vysvader
    You can feel free to get in touch 
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