The growing years with dyslexia

Did you like school? Hate it? Endure it? Maybe you loved it or you couldn’t wait to leave. School is a nerve-wracking and embarrassing place for many but if you suffer from dyslexia, it can be so much worse.

In an emotionally charged piece this writer really captures the feelings of a child struggling to cope with reading difficulties and how those experiences impacted on her for the rest of her life.

The doors of the school swallowed up my tiny body. I froze as if I was going into a trap. So many times people have tried to trap me with words and puzzles, so many words. I would sit quietly and hope nobody notices me. Please don’t notice me. My mother walked beside me and I try to hide behind her full flowing skirt but don’t feel comforted. She will tell them to make me study, she is against me too. Why don’t they understand how hard it is for me?

As I enter the room there are numbers and words, letter and faces. The faces that will end up judging me in the end, laugh and jeer at me later as I twist my words. How can I stop it from happening? I wish I were somewhere else and not in this huge room that scares me so.

Years go by, I walk down the daunting hall of Junior High. There have been no answers as to why I am who I am. I just sit and cry. Most of the kids that I grew up with are here. Years of jeers and laughter weighing down on me.  I sit in the back of the room and hope no one notices that I’m there.

It was the day I had to stand in front of the class and speak: My history presentation. It was the day and my name was called. I walked through the aisles to the front of the class. I try to make myself small. Insignificant. I want to get past this quickly. My face rises red through body heat. My project chart shakes in my hands.

I am an academic, social and emotional failure. In my inability to hold a conversation I twist my words and phrases to the point of mutilation. I look away from all of them, make eye contact, that is what they tell us to do, but I can’t. Trying harder will not help. I get frustrated and aggressive and anti-social behaviour results from these tensions. But I can’t blame myself. Don’t hate myself. Don’t fight myself. Don’t strike out.

I drop my chart and begin to shake again. I look at the door and feel trapped. Can I make it to the door without anyone stopping me? Another girl shakes her head and asks the teacher if we can get on with it.

I want to take control and tell people. I want to communicate.  If only they can be patient with me. I have something to say. It’s not my fault. The words jump off the page. It’s not my fault. My hand moves around the paper. Searching for the words. The words change on you and go blury. It’s just not my fault.

And to that one teacher that passed back my history grade and told me in front of the class, marry well in response to my grade for the presentation. I say, it didn’t kill me and it did make me stronger.

 

Alice O’Donnell

 

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LGBT History Month February 2016

Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans History Month  http://lgbthistorymonth.org.uk/

LGBT HM is celebrated in February in the UK but work to challenge homophobia, biphobia and transphobia continues throughout the year.

In 2015 the LGBT History theme was Hidden Histories and Coded Lives. In 2016 the theme is Religion, Belief and Philosophy. In 2017 we will look at Citizenship, PSHE and Law, as we mark the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England and Wales.IMG_20160212_183918519[1]

For the first time, WEA Yorkshire and Humber have celebrated LGBT History month with a film screening of ‘Pride‘. The film raises awareness of an aspect of LGBT history from the 1980s, when Gay Rights activists supported the Miners’ Strike through fundraising and solidarity. The film celebrates the unexpected partnership, and the impact it had on a local community, and the wider Labour movement.

Thanks to colleagues, friends and neighbours who came along to watch the film, and begin a discussion on what the WEA can do to support diversity in the organisation and in our curriculum.