Through the years that we have been specialising in dyslexia awareness counselling we have found that it is often the assessment which is felt like a bombshell. Presented with a report of many pages the person is left with no direction or sense of what to do. “What does it mean?”, “Who am I?”, “What might I have been had I known?”, “Why didn’t someone do something?” or “Why didn’t anyone pick this up when I was young enough to do something?” These are just a few of the questions we hear. We hope to give you some answers and a sense of direction that will help you understand the traits of dyslexia and how they can impact on the emotions.
We often hear that newly assessed people are guided towards skills training and the use of assisted technology which is wonderful. However, we firmly believe that a person in an emotional state will find it extremely hard to concentrate on learning new things while their sense of identity is in turmoil. We believe there is a need to process and accommodate the news of being dyslexic and truly understand its implications before attempting to take on board valuable workplace strategies and new technology.
Dyslexic traits show themselves in many subtle areas of life. It might be that you are very sensitive to light or sound or even texture. It may be that you are easily distracted and find it really hard to keep organised. You may lose things or be thought of as very absent minded. Perhaps even considered curt and tactless because you find it hard to understand other people’s jokes or humour. Some people find it impossible to take accurate minutes and try to write everything down. Others find it impossible to listen to someone talk and write down what they hear. If someone is using a flip chart how many times does the page flip before you have finished making sense of what’s on it?
Are any or a combination of the following familiar?
- You suffer from low self-esteem and a lack of confidence.
- You have a poor self image.
- You have difficulty relating to people.
- You have a sense of shame and embarrassment.
- You get really angry and find it hard to express yourself verbally.
- You experience fear without knowing why.
- You feel guilty without knowing why.
- You find it hard to keep your emotions in check.
- You indulge in risky behaviours in order to escape from your sense of being different.
- You were bullied or were a bully.
- You truanted to avoid going to school or work.
- You have experienced school or work phobia.
- You have great difficulty in adjusting to change.
- You are particularly sensitive to noise, light or texture.
- You find it really hard to study or work efficiently.
- You have poor concentration.
- You find yourself blanking out in conversation and can’t remember what’s been said.
- You have memory lapses.
- You experience a constant, generalised anxiety.
- You have self harmed.
- You have relationship problems with peers and family.
- You experience depression or despondency.
- You feel isolated, confused and bewildered.
- Have you ever been able to learn your times-tables?
- How are you with following directions?
- You probably remember faces well but how about names?
Every person experiences some of these at some point or other. In the case of the dyslexic person it is an everyday experience – all the time – 365 days a year. It can take extraordinary amounts of energy just to get through life, just to make sense of their sensitivities. It’s fully understandable that if you don’t know that the cause comes from dyslexia you can feel extremely confused, anxious and very vulnerable.
Dyslexic people however often have wonderful gifts that with time they can acknowledge and call on.
- You have a great visual thinking – seeing everything clearly in pictures.
- You are very empathic.
- You sense others emotions.
- You are extremely intuitive and ‘get’ what people are on about without really knowing how.
- When you are thinking about a problem you can follow each idea through in your mind and anticipate the possible outcomes.
- You are able to recall experiences with all the feelings, sounds and textures you experienced at the time.
- You get loads of inspirational ideas.
- You are very creative.
- People often say you seem to be able to mind read.
- You can build rapport with others easily.
So you see dyslexia is far more than not being great at reading and writing. Many people in our experience are labelled mad, bad or sad when in actual fact they are dyslexic. They, and just as importantly, the people who labelled them, just didn’t know that there were constitutional difficulties that might impact on large swathes of their lives – and their emotions.
There’s a whole raft of self knowledge and interventions that can help you to understand yourself and work to your strengths. Once you have done that you are far better placed to cope with all the elements demanded of you in the workplace and in other relationships throughout life.
It is for all these reasons that we consider that it is vitally important that someone reeling from discovering they are dyslexic is offered informed, insightful support from a counsellor specifically trained to appreciate the nuances of dyslexia.