Writing for a living when you are Dyslexic and Dyspraxic

Firstly why do they make those words SO hard to spell when thats the definition of the problem? Feels like such a cruel joke ;)

I was thinking of this and that over the Christmas holidays and it occurred to me what a funny thing it is that my job is writing for a living when I struggle with writing at all. I thought it might make for a fun post if only to show that labels don't define you and not to let anyone tell you what you can or can't do. We all need motivational posts in the the new year right? I am nothing if not cliche.

I have both Dyslexia and Dyspraxia to varying levels. I was always told I have a reading age five higher than normal and a writing age of five years lower. I'm not sure thats how they grade people once you've left school haha (I mean should a 37 year old be able to read better then a 32 year old? ;)) but I guess its a good marker to describe the fact that issues reading are not a problem for me where as writing definitely is.

I've always LOVED reading, we didn't watch a huge amount of TV as child (we didn't have one for the longest time and after that what we watched was selected by my parents and time limited) and I was a bit of a loner friend-wise so I spent pretty much all my free time, reading or drawing. I also used to write my own stories, something my parents encouraged a lot but ones that were littered with bad spelling and grammar.

Once I had started school I was taught pretty quickly that I wasn't 'good' at writing. People would tell me the more I read the easier it would be to learn to spell but it just didn't work that way for me. Throughout school although I was bright enough I struggled massively with poor confidence and a lot of stress about my spelling. My vocabulary is quite wide but I struggle to communicate that when writing, opting to chose words I know I won't get wrong.  I can't tell you how time consuming googling how to spell a word that spell check doesn't recognise is!

I also started to realise at some point in my teens that I struggled to find the words I knew I knew when speaking. I put it down to anxiety about speaking to anyone but the thought of my mind going blank or 'umming' when trying to reach the right word gave me even more anxiety so I preferred to speak as little as possible. It felt like the word was always there but just hiding in some part of my brain I couldn't reach, so again I would simplify my language to substitute.

Whilst I was diagnosed with Dyslexia at around 13 it wasn't until I was 18 that I found out I was Dyspraxic. Those words that were there were still there but my brain just didn't acsess them in the same way as other people. Likewise the bruises I constantly found (and still do) on my hips and side of my legs were because my brain just couldn't work out where I was well enough to not bump into things. It sounds quite comical (and is to be honest) but if you see me walking through a door I'll more often then not bump myself on the frame as I pass as I didn't realise how big I was or where I was in relation to it. Clinically Clumsy is the way I like to explain that part!

It always bugged me that studying art for my degree still meant I would be graded on spelling. I finally left with a 2:1 a couple of marks from a first and those lost points pretty much all due to the fact I had to write a dissertation.

I never disclosed on any CV that I have either of these conditions because I'm fairly certain despite whatever policies are in place that is a sure way to not get picked for a job. I still remember a colleague watching over my shoulder as she asked me to write an email and pointing out misspelling after misspelling until she demanded to know if I was dyslexic because 'you really should have disclosed this if you are' and assuring her I wasn't. I'm pretty good at covering up when armed with spell check and google to double check. Saying that I'm sure this post must be littered with mistakes I'll only notice later.

Anyway the whole point of this post I guess is that life is funny, I love telling stories and I love reading them. I love writing and being creative but in any kind of system 'school / employment' that probably something I'd be told I shouldn't be doing.

I started this blog sharing pictures with maybe a sentance or two. Now I find myself just pouring out my thoughts and knowing it doesn't matter, no one is grading me on making sure I'm adding the right punctuation. I even get paid to write for other sites from time to time! So if you're told you can't do something because someone had given you a label then I'd be inclined to take no notice. The internet can be a funny old place but it's helped me just let me be!

I'd love to know if any of you have the same issues are were able to work around them! 


corinne marbrow said...

Lovely post Fritha - I used to support children with dyslexia in my school and often those children were super creative - lots of famous people like Rochard Branson and Jamie Oliver are dyslexic - and they are super creative, and great business people.i used to say that to the children all the time!
Lots of love corinne xxx

Jojo said...

This is a great post Fritha: as you know C, E and K were all diagnosed with dyslexia at different stages.... and I'm pretty sure I am dyspraxic - door frames are attracted to me like magnets!! Everyone is individual and we all have unique gifts to bring to the world and I think your post helps to emphasise that. Love Jo xxxx

Anonymous said...

Hi Fritha,
I wrote a huge reply to you yesterday and then lost it by failing to login through google! I’ll try and recapture what I wrote) why I didn’t see the name/url option to reply to your blog I don’t know?! Oh yes! Because I’m dyslexic and I don’t often see all the options on a page!
I wrote to thank you for sharing your dyslexia/dyspraxia story, I identify so much with a lot of what you said especially when reading that your reading level was above average, I was always good at reading so people didn’t really believe me when I said I’m dyslexic!!! It took until university for me to be diagnosed as I built in my own ways of dealing with it- like you I used lots of words I knew how to spell!
I hadn’t really thought about dyspraxia before, but you saying that you can’t get the right words out when you need them definitely is a daily thing I struggle with, it’s so frustrating! I didn’t realise that was dyspraxia related, it’s possible I have that as well as I don’t think I was tested for it, but I’m sooooo clumsy it’s rediculous, always have bruises all over from banging into things!
I’ll look into it more but do you know any of the other symptoms of dyspraxia?
Again thank you for talking about this!

Kate Williams said...

Oh this sounds just like me too - dyslexic, good at reading but terrible at spelling and I wouldn't be shocked if I was dyspraxic too - I've always described myself as a chronic klutz ;) Strangely a lot of bloggers I know are dyslexic - I asked for spelling help in a group before and we were all totally stumped. Maybe its as dyslexics are often quite creative and we love a spell checker?? (And get jealous - I was asked if I would like to draw my essays for my English Literature degree!)

Crystal said...

This is such an eye-opening and touching post. It can be hard to share personal stories. You really expressed yourself well.

A Busy Bees Life said...

You are so strong for sharing your story as it will be able to empower so many. I love how I was also able to learn more and gain insight to dyslexia and dyspraxia.

Stephanie Merry said...

I always knew I was dyslexic but know I think I might be dyspraxic too - I'm a great reader but terrible speller! x

Super Busy Mum said...

Lovely post, Fritha. And so amazing that against the odds you still smash it all with your gorgeous writing!

Ashleigh - www.beingashleigh.com said...

Well proof is in the pudding that dyslexia doesn't matter, because you are a fantastic writer!

Ashton Gibbs said...

This is such a lovely post, and don't ever doubt that you're a fab writer!

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