This is a topic I have thought about covering for a while now. But being dyslexic and starting a blog where everyone judges, not just the content, but also the quality of the writing, grammar, and punctuation, gave me slight heart palpitations. This post is different from all my others. It’s a more personal, and I hope an inspirational piece, which could help others that feel they need a push to start a blog when faced with the label ‘dyslexic’.
Dyslexia is a funny thing, it comes in multiple shapes and forms and affects people very differently. There is no exact known cause of dyslexia, although it does tend to run within families. It is not a representation of a persons intelligence and those with dyslexia often have heightened skills in other areas. I was officially diagnosed when I was actually at university after I found I was struggling with things that others seemed to find surprisingly easy. I had undergone previous assessments when I was a child but they attributed my difficulties in learning with other things at the time.
I have always been an unenthusiastic reader and never been a bookworm or the sort of person that spends their free time nose deep in the pages of a novel. I have always struggled with my spelling and lacked confidence in my writing and reading. When I started thinking about jobs after university, and when tried teaching, I was nervous about writing on a whiteboard in case I made spelling errors. Nevertheless, starting a blog about festivals, however nerve-racking, was something I had wanted to do for ages. But every time I thought about writing and people seeing my mistakes, I stopped and didn’t start. In the end, I took a leap and started writing, and I am so, so glad I did!
Is there a stigma with Dyslexia?
I think this area is improving, but I personally feel there is still some stigma associated with having dyslexia.
At uni, we (those with dyslexia) were the people that ‘got given loads of free stuff’ ‘got leeway with grammar and spelling on written assignments’, and had ‘sooo much extra time in exams’. Yes, all this stuff happened but without it, those with dyslexia could not have been on an equal playing field. Achieving your best is what everyone strives for at uni, however, if you can’t do your best because you don’t have the resources you need then it’s pointless.
I feel the same stigma exists at work for many people but I know this isn’t always the case. Previously I wouldn’t ever disclose that I was dyslexic on a job application or in an interview, and it would only be something I revealed once I was settled into a job. However with my current role, I told them at interview stages I am dyslexic, and it made no difference to whether I got the job. If anything, it showed that I was an honest and open person, which for many employers is something they value. Telling a potential employer at interview stages also means that if you ever find yourself doing tests or assessments to get the job, they might be able to offer some differentiation in the test or allow you additional time to complete it.
I felt there would also be some stigma with blogging, so I would never tell people I was dyslexic – I assumed people probably just thought I wasn’t a particularly good writer… but I think it’s so important to tell people! People will never be able to help, sympathise or provide solutions if you don’t say anything.
What’s out there to help?
There are so many amazing things that can help someone with dyslexia when it comes to blogging. I write my blog most of the time on my laptop at home, so I installed something called Grammarly. It checks for spelling and grammar errors online which is great when you are using online blogging platforms which don’t offer this help. Of course, you can always write a piece in Microsoft Word, Google Docs or Pages etc which all provide a spelling and grammar check, then simply copy and paste it onto the online platform you use.
Another thing I use, which I also had at university, is something called Dragon Dictate. This does all the grammar and spell checks you would expect, but also can read your writing aloud to you which can be really helpful at highlighting errors in written work that you might have otherwise missed. There are loads of other free apps and resources online to help you if you need it, but have a play around and find one that suits your specific needs.
On the whole, I have found that most people now have a much greater understanding of dyslexia and what it means. I do feel barriers and stigma are being broken down which is fantastic!
So get writing, make it your new years’ resolution! Don’t let it stop you from starting your own blog and feel free to ask me any questions you have, whether about my experience or for help with your own piece.