The history of a dyslexic (age 26):
When I was born apparently it was a very
difficult birth from my mother and there were problems. Eventually I was
delivered by cesarean section. There was a lack of oxygen in my brain.
Thatís where this brain damage comes from.
When I was dyslexic and where the early
memories started to go wrong is when I was about 4 or 5. I had been doing
quite well in my primary school and then all of a sudden they put me up an
extra year because I had been doing so well and then a lot of things went
wrong. I had a lot of problems with reading.
My first real memory was when my mum took
me to have my eyes tested to make sure that the eyes were not the problem.
Thatís why they suddenly thought I was not doing very well at school. The
doctor told me that I had bad eyesight and I would have to wear glasses
and so I would have to stop riding horses. Well, being a little girl and
being told things like that I virtually threw the spectacles in the bin. I
remember my mother asking the doctor, and saying boys that wear glasses
donít have to stop playing football. The doctor said, yes, they should
stop. My mum didnít really believe it, so she took me to quite a few
specialists in London and there wasnít much of an eye problem. There was a
little problem but not a big thing with my eyes.
I donít really remember much at that age,
but I do remember coming home with words where every time I got them wrong
or couldnít read them, I had to put them in a little box. I would have to
go over and over and learn them but it never really helped. Then we moved
and I went to a new school and my parents got divorced and my mother moved
back to where she was brought up and I went to the same school she did and
I enjoyed it there, but still had problems with the reading.
They suggested that I went to the
childrenís hospital in Great Ormond Street, so we went there. A lady
doctor, Dr. Lodascher, diagnosed me as a dyslexic at about age 8. She
suggested a few things for school and everything was going pretty well.
And then the school, when I got to the age of 9 or 10, said to my mother,
"Sorry, I think we canít take your daughter next year because she really
needs to go to a proper school for dyslexia". They didnít feel that they
could help me much, which was fair enough at the time, but I felt like
that even though I had been struggling, nobody wants me anymore and I
tried school and was failing.
We looked at many schools and they came up
with this one school in Eastbourne called Chance Hall. It was a boarding
school and I donít think I ever really wanted to go there, but it was for
the best for the dyslexia. I didnít want to leave mum and I didnít want to
leave home, but anyway I went there. And from the first day I absolutely
hated it. It did have a special dyslexic unit there, but I donít think it
ever really helped. I hated it, I was so unhappy there.
My mother tried to take me away but my
father took out a court injunction for my mum to make me stay there. Mom
had me coming home every weekend in tears, but wanting to go back to
school. I remember I really hated it. I can see the place now. I used to
dream about running away and going away. I was there a year and then they
moved me up and I was the only girl in my class.
Boys teased me like you would not believe.
Donít play with the dyslexic - she might be contagious!
They made it quite obvious that I sort of
stuck out amongst the others, I felt I was such an odd person and why was
I such an odd person. Nothing made sense. Then eventually my mother
managed to persuade my father to let me leave and I did leave.
We had great problems trying to find a new
school. I felt that I had done something wrong, that somebody was
punishing me for doing something wrong, and for all the trouble I was
causing my mother. I was a very, very unhappy little girl and mum couldnít
find a school so when I was 10 1/2 or 11, I had a private tutor for a
year, which helped a bit, yet I always felt like an odd person out. I
never really made any friends. I was always alone somewhere and it was
like somebody punishing me because I had trouble with my reading. It made
no sense. The tutor and I got on very well and so we started to make
Mum eventually found a lovely school in
Surrey, and I went there in March when I was 12 in summer, and I
absolutely loved that school. It was only a small school, about 23 people
or something, mixed, and the headmaster became the father that I never
really had. I loved him and it was such a lovely calming atmosphere that I
started to actually enjoy school and I made a lot of absolutely lovely
friends there and they had horses and I could ride horses and still be
happy and do well at school. My reading and dyslexia got quite a lot
better. I was there for a year and a term and then I had to leave because
you can only stay up there until you are about 13.
Then I went to my local state school,
which was trouble after I had always been in private schools and talked
with a posh upper class accent. I got picked on because of my accent and
because I had been to private schools.
My first year memory of that school was
sitting in the class that first day. It was an English class, and they
were going down the room asking people to read out loud and I can see me
now sitting there getting more scared and more scared, tears rolling down
my cheeks waiting to be picked on, so frightened. Even talking about it
now for me brings tears to my eyes.
I was so scared, when it came to my turn I
collected up enough courage to say to the teacher, "You know I am
dyslexic, I shouldnít have to read this, this is wrong". And she said "We
know nothing about you being dyslexic." So I had to tell all my teachers.
I had to stand up and be made a right fool of, to tell everybody I was
dyslexic. I hated that place, but I only had 2 years left so I struggled
Eventually with my motherís battling and
help, I managed to get some extra help because they didnít think I was bad
enough, because I wasnít stupid. Being a state school, I didnít really
take it all in. I was more intelligent than the local village idiot, as it
were, you know the people that didnít do well at school. But I knew I
could do better. When I had things read to me, I was getting top grades,
but when I didnít, I was always falling back.
Eventually my mum got me a private teacher
for extra reading lessons. I had a very nice teacher who I loved and she
and I got on really well. Then it got towards my exams in the fifth year
in my math class (my mathís had always been very good which no one could
Looking back on it now that I understand
brain damage, it made sense. They made me stand up and then the teacher
said this girl cannot take her O levels mathís because she is dyslexic and
she canít read the paper so she will fail, we will have to put her in a
All my classmates were doing the exams and
I felt like such an idiot and a fool. It was so frustrating knowing that I
could do it if only somebody could read me the paper, because I was good
at mathís. It was like banging your head against a brick wall knowing that
you can do it but it is just that your reading is the problem.
I knew that I was smart. My mother always
said that if you could have a little mouse to sit beside you to read
everything you would go on and finish and go to college. Just before the
exams started I didnít want to talk about college. I thought no way, as
soon as I left school that was going to be it. I was out of there.
Anyway, going on a few more months, my
mother, my private tutor at the last school and my remedial reading
teacher all got together and eventually they managed to get a reader for
me during the exams and extra time in my exams. If I had been in a
different school area, I could have had a writer as well and had a whole
lot more opportunity, but it seemed political problems in the school were
such that I could only just have a reader.
I felt quite guilty because there was
another boy in my English class that was worse than I was and because his
parents didnít fight for him he got nothing, he didnít get any help at
all. It always got to me that, because I always felt that if I didnít have
my mother and the other people behind me I would have been like him.
Anyway, I struggled through the exams. I
did quite well and it finally came time for me to leave school and I was
very glad to leave school and at long last I could stop feeling
inadequate. I did feel that I did not belong anywhere because I was
intelligent but I was put with the real idiots, I mean that sounds an
awful thing to say, but that is what I felt like. I just didnít want to
know about school for a very long, long, long time. I always said about a
year later when I was happy and relaxed and my mum said as well when I was
happy and relaxed it would come a bit more.
Over the years after leaving school and
when I went to Australia I felt that it did improve because I had to. I
was happy and I said stuff it, who cares if I am dyslexic, it is something
Iím living with and who gives a damn, you know, who gives a damn and that
attitude helped me as well to tell more people.
It was only when I left school I felt
actually comfortable telling people, like telling my new bosses, please
donít ask me to insert a clause or something because Iíll ask you again
cause it will get written down because my reading was not so good because
Iím dyslexic. And I could tell people and I felt comfortable telling
people. But that was 8 years after I had been diagnosed and now I can talk
about it like you wouldnít believe.
Things got a lot better over the years. I
did a course with Sean Adam at the Alphalearning Institute and as the
letter I wrote them shortly after the course says;
"Dear Sean , Thank you for your help. I
am doing my exercises and have read over half of my book. I canít thank
you all enough for what you have done for me. It has opened a whole new
It is very difficult to now know where
to start and in which direction. They say life begins at 40 but my life
began when my brother found you and backed me into a corner to say yes to
go to Seanís school
My boyfriend, mum and other people and
the people I work with could not believe that I was the same person. I now
have confidence that I have never felt before. Hope your trip is going
well and hope you help more people. I will keep in touch."
That was a year ago and now I have read
another book and Iím halfway through the second and I actually for the
first time in my life enjoy reading. I think of going to bed now and Iíll
read two pages, OK, itís not a lot, but Iím actually wanting to read and
Iíll go into book shops and it doesnít fill me full of horror now. Iím
even beginning to enjoy it.
I went on holiday before Christmas and I
used to get quite bored, but I always managed to mingle and do other
things when other people were reading, but looking back I donít remember
what I used to do when I couldnít read. I took my book, went down to the
beach and read a couple of pages and then read to my boyfriend and he
couldnít believe the change in me. Just after 3 days with Sean.
I canít thank the Alphalearning Institute
enough, and I still canít. I hope if I can help other people by writing
this letter, I hope to God I can, to save the pain and the agony so that
other children, you know, they donít have to go through it like I went
My mother was always great, my father was
not very helpful. I can remember my granny grabbing hold of me and sitting
me down when I was about 12 (sheís dead now) and saying, I had to study at
school and work hard to get good grades, and like I hated her for the
pressure that she put on me. Now that I am a lot stronger person, I can
forgive her, but at the time it was such a battle.
I hope I can stop one person from going
through this trouble and the anxiety that I went through. That would make
me really happy.
Thank you very much Sean.
FOOTNOTE: Julia continued to work with her
own Brainwave I and decided to become an Alphalearning Institute
instructor specializing in treating dyslexia. She has improved her reading
speed from 3 words/minute to 250 words/minute (the average college
graduate only reads at 225 words/minute). She can be contacted through
the Alphalearning Institute in Lugano.