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‘My dyslexia is not my disability, it’s my tool to my own identity and success'

by Veronica Clancy, College Tutor PMLD (profound and learning difficulties) and Autism.

From a young age my aspirations in life were to have what most people have: a family, a job they enjoyed or even loved. I was told my education would get me there, truth be told it will, but they were wrong on what education or route of education was meant for me, a route that embraced my way of learning.

Generally throughout my education experience I was mainly told I was lazy, careless, not focused with my school work, that I was not good enough or up to the standard expected. And it was also implied because of this that I would never amount to anything in life, if I did not change. If I ever wanted to go to university for a specific career job this was not going to be possible.

These phrases or underhand comments were constantly aimed in my direction, but with little help or choice on how I could achieve my goals, as it was seen as a problem due to my attitude towards my education rather than the materials or educational teachings not adapting for the type of learner I was. And thus making me feel very conscious and frustrated of my inabilities and failures.

To be unable to express on paper my thoughts, knowledge and opinions doesn't mean I am incapable to achieve or develop skills needed for work and community life. My aspirations as a young student were bleak and my self-esteem and, come to think of it my mental wellbeing, had been affected by the normal educational teachings.

Now I look back at what I was told, and I wish I could speak to that young person to say, you will get to where you want to be in time and on your terms. Chin up, don't worry, take the time to achieve goals in your own way and not hear those who don't understand the person inside, the person with the potential to shine in her own way. There are different ways to learn and achieve, we just need time.

Being diagnosed dyslexic might seem as a label for some, but for me it lifted a weight off my shoulders that raised my self-esteem and showed that I was not stupid, that there was a reason for my inability to place thought, knowledge, organisational thought process and opinions onto paper. The more I read or learned about dyslexia, the more I became aware of what strategies to use to develop my own learning. Because dyslexia means I think differently and therefore learn in a different way. I needed to re-discover who I was, what my identity as a dyslexic person was, what were my learning styles, strengths and skills and use them to develop my route to succeed in my aspirations.

I went to university at a later age, but this gave me time to understand and mature my thoughts and how I processed my understanding, and then develop set strategies to strengthen those unique skills I have. To be able to focus in the area I wanted to dedicate to, and I have achieved a degree in Education, a Masters in Special Educational Needs and then after a PGCE. I currently work in a college as a tutor for students aged 19-25 with PMLD (profound and learning difficulties) and Autism. I believe my dyslexia helps me see, understand and adapt to the learning needs of my students. So I am guided by them to help them achieve their potential to shine.

No snowflakes are alike, so no person or dyslexic person for that matter are alike, but all unique in our own way. We all have the potential to shine if we develop the personal abilities as a sense of worth, bringing our own unique skills into the work or community. My sense of worth comes from seeing my students develop themselves with the tools I create for them. My gift of being able to think differently, understand and see things differently, helps me enable, acknowledge and seek with them how to achieve their goals, and this gives me nothing but pleasure.

For further details please contact the Gibraltar Dyslexia Support Group on: M: +350 5400 7924 / E: info@dyslexia.gi  / W: dyslexia.gi