Over the past few blog posts I have spoken about different forms of supports that I received and that I find useful to help people with dyslexia and dyspraxia. I spoke to you about the supports I got in college such as Larry my amazing note taker, or the extra tutorials/grinds I got free of charge.
I spoke about the exam supports I received such as my separate room away from the exam hall, the fact my invigilator also acted as a reader who read the exam questions to me and a scribe who wrote my answers as I spoke them aloud, and also the fact I received 10 minutes extra time for every hour of the exam.
I have also mentioned other supports that I use in everyday life such as baby blue paper to make reading a bit easier and using my phone to give me reminders so I don’t forget anything and the fact that to-do lists can actually make you more productive and organised as you can work your way through them rather than wondering what needs to be done and when you should do it.
I even mentioned how my boss recently bought me a Dictaphone in order to help me at work as I still can’t read my own hand writing which can lead to problems if I’m covering at reception and I take a booking over the phone and can’t remember the details.
I can now report back that after my first 3 weeks of using it I have found it to be very helpful and it has got me out of some tricky situations already. Outside of all of these supports however there is one support that I have not yet mentioned even through it’s the most important and most helpful support of them all and that is your friends and family.
Open and honest
As you have probably gathered from reading my blog posts I am extremely open and honest about my dyslexia and dyspraxia. I have always felt that honesty is the best policy. When first diagnosed I did all I could to hide my difficulties and to avoid anyone finding out about them in fear that I would be bullied.
I spoke in my blog posts that covered my time in primary school and secondary school about the difficult times I went through where others laughed at me every time I was asked to read in class or mocked me about any of my difficulties they had noticed.
I was always the last person picked for a team in PE because everyone knew that my dyspraxia affects my coordination and organisation and as a result I am clumsy and ridiculously bad at every sport.
When eventually landed on a team I was shouted at for being so bad and laughed at by those on the apposing team. There are millions of reasons for someone to want to hide their difficulties from everyone and I promise I will write a blog post soon about the stigma and discrimination associated with learning difficulties but today I want to outline why in all truth being open and honest about your difficulties is actually a good thing.
No matter what your family and friends are there for you
Your family are there for you no matter what, they are the ones who are there when you go home from school or work every day and when you wake up in the morning. They have been there for you since day one.
They have thought you how to speak, crawl and walk and everything in between. They have been by your side during the bad times and the good and they have seen you at your strongest and weakest.
Your family are the ones who will always be there for you no matter what. Your friends are like family members who are not actually related to you. Remember they are friends with you for a reason, the same reason you are friends with them.
They like you, the get on with you, they support you and most of all they don’t mock or bully you. By being open and honest about your difficulties with your friends and family you develop a support network around you at all times.
3 things on the menu
I am 22 but still to this day every time we go to a restaurant my mother does a little trick whereby she says, “I can’t decide whether I will have the …” and she lists about 3 things on the menu. The reason she does this is because when I was younger she knew that due to my dyslexia my reading was so bad I would struggle to even read a menu and without making it obvious in front of others she used this trick and always listed 3 items on the menu she knew I’d like.
By doing this I knew what was on the menu but everyone else just thought she couldn’t choose what she wanted to eat. My family have lots of tricks like this which they use on a regular basis to help me without making it obvious to anyone around.
A little help from my friends
When I was in school and college my friends were always the ones I could rely on to help me in times of difficulty. I could photocopy their notes when I couldn’t read my own, or if working on a project we would work together and help each other through it.
In primary and secondary school I often had trouble with the fact I can’t tie shoe laces or a tie due to my lack of coordination and my close friends knew this so rather than making a big deal about it or let others see who may mock me for this my friends were the ones I could rely on to tie my laces for me if they opened, or to tie my tie if I opened it fully by mistake when getting changed for PE.
Strengths and weaknesses
In college we often had to do group projects and thankfully most lecturers would let us choose our own groups. My friends and I would always go together for these projects as we had learned to work perfectly together.
Each of us had strengths and weaknesses, my weaknesses were obviously ones caused by my dyslexia. We all however brought something to the table when it came to strengths so we would split the project into sections were each of us worked on a part that involved our strengths.
By doing this it meant I could avoid situations whereby I was slowing the group down as a result of my difficulties. In my final year of college I practically moved into the library, I was one of the first people into the library every morning and one of the last to leave every night.
It’s no big secret that I have to work 10 times harder than most people in order to understand something or get the grades I wanted but this didn’t bother me as I knew it would be worth it in the end.
Spending 12 and 14 hour days in the library studying and working on projects and reports would have been torture at times if it wasn’t for the fact I had good friends who acted as a support network and were willing to stay in the library as long as I was to work with me and we supported and encouraged each other.
There were times when we could take no more and a decision would be made to call it a day. As everyone packed up to go home I would decide that I needed to keep working and any time this situation arose a very good friend of mine would change his mind and stay on with me in order to get through the next few hours of study and to help me when I was getting stressed and frustrated because he knew I needed to do it in order to get the results I wanted.
You are open and honest
These support networks that are provided by friends and family who you are open and honest with go far beyond study and work however. Like the example of my mother in a restaurant I gave above, there are many situations where my difficulties crop up outside of work.
I have said it in several blog posts before, dyslexia and dyspraxia, although they are learning difficulties the problems and difficulties they cause are not confined to education or work. I have dyslexia and dyspraxia when I’m relaxing and watching a DVD or out for a walk or when having a cup of tea and a catch up with friends.
My difficulties crop up in many areas as do all dyslexics and dyspraxics. As you know by now my dyspraxia often affects my people skills and I’m not the most confident when it comes to large groups are conversing with people I don’t know.
My friends all know that I don’t do clubs, if I’m going to go out I much prefer a pub as I don’t feel half as anxious there. When I’m catching up with my very close friends we go for lunch and a pot of tea on a Saturday afternoon or we go out for dinner after work/college during the week.
My friends know my comfort levels and because they are friends they accept me for who I am and don’t push me to go out every Friday and Saturday night.
It can be difficult to tell others, but…
The stress that’s caused by life with learning difficulties can be hard to cope with. Every situation where one of your difficulties may come into play is a stressful situation. There is a constant fear of slipping up in front of others and looking like a fool and as much as you think it might get easier as you get older I found it is the opposite.
The older you get the more stressful these situations can be as your slip up can often be something that someone much younger then you could do with ease. My family will be the first ones to tell you that stress and me don’t go hand in hand. I stress very easily and when I am stressed I get fierce cranky and I also work myself into a state where I get run down and sick.
Fortunately I have managed to avoid situations like this due to being open and honest about my difficulties with those around me. My friends and family as I have said have become a kind of support network that gathers around me to help me avoid and get through any situations that crop up.
I know how difficult it can be to tell others about your difficulties. You may be embarrassed or ashamed, you may be worried they will mock you, you may even think it’s a sign of weakness but this is never the case with friends and family.
A good friend is …
When I wrote my blog about making the decision whether or not you’re going to tell your boss about your dyslexia. I came to the conclusion that I wouldn’t hang around with someone who made my life difficult because of my dyslexia so I had no intention of working for someone who discriminated against me for this.
And the same can be said for your friends, you can be open and honest with them because a true friend is there for you no matter what. A friend isn’t going to laugh at you because you have difficulties, instead they will respect you for telling them.
A good friend like I said at the start of this post is like a family member just not related. You are there for each other during the good times and the bad, ye will see each other at your strongest and weakest and they will never judge you for something you find difficult or can’t do.
My advice is to make life easier and less stressful for yourself. Be honest with your friends, they are one of the best support you will get because they will always be there to support you and all you have to do in return is be there for them when they need you.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and hope it helped in some way shape or form,