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As a Dyslexic Learner, I Can Tell You.

1. Life at school was pretty miserable. Neither the school nor my parents had any idea what was happening to me. Besides that fact I was in the state school in a socialist country and, to be honest, I’m not even sure they knew something like dyslexia existed.

2. My teachers and my parents called me lazy countless times.

3. I cried many times after parent-teacher conference after which, most likely than not I was punished for not doing better at subjects I had no interest in neither could understand.

4. My mum told me on many occasions that she was ashamed of me, especially when she had to talk to her entire family about my grades. According to her, I was never going to amount to anything.

5. I had to read the same text over and over again at least three times before I could remember anything from it.

6. I learned how to read and write (even though I still can’t spell correctly in both, Polish and English) by learning all the words by heart, by countless repetition and writing the words twenty, thirty times at least.

7. I cannot remember names, and sometimes even the easiest words are not possible for me to spell. I do forget spelling often, and sometimes I forget how to read some words.

8. I am a reader but a very slow one.

9. I do think in images, so everything I read is transferred into images, storyboards and anything visual. I think that was one of the reasons I chose filmmaking as my job.

10. My self-belief and self-confidence were non-existing for years, not only at school. It took many years of hard work on myself to start trusting in me.

11. I often, even now, experience immense difficulties focusing on one subject, a problem, or issue. It requires a lot of energy for me to stay focused without the countless distractions.

12. Throughout most of my working life, I was desperately trying to make/succeed. I needed to accomplish something, anything to feel that I’m worth something since my childhood never gave me that security of being enough that every child needs to lead a trustful and secure life as an adult. As an adult, I looked for external confirmation of my worth from people, things, projects; everything and everyone but myself.

13. In high school, I had the hardest time coping with chemistry, and at some point, a friend of mine helped me to take the chemistry test. In fact, she took the test for me. If she hadn’t it done it, I think they would have kept me behind. Honestly, chemistry made no sense to me, and I couldn’t even learn it by heart ‘cos it was just random letters and numbers.

14. It takes a lot of brain energy, first to realise that something is “wrong with you”, then figure out how to cope with it. For me, the best way to learn was learning everything by heart.

15. Hidding the secret that you struggle has vast consequences for you and your working life, which goes back to having no self-belief and caring a lot of shame.

16. Then it takes shit lots of energy to get you out of the shame cycle into the big scary world with your weaknesses and vulnerabilities for others to see.

17. In short, it is harder, much harder. Something I still try to get my head around. However, knowing what dyslexia is, how it works and what it does to the human brain and soul is empowering and life-changing. I wish the schools nowadays were more accommodating to kids with dyslexia, empowering them instead of making them feel like shit.

Filed under: Polish Gal in London

About the Author

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Magda Olchawska is an award-winning independent filmmaker, writer and screenwriter. She writes not only about making films and writing but also about financially independent and sustainable lifestyle. Her current projects include Ecotopia Universe and School Runs.


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