DYSLEXIC STORIES FROM THE WORK PLACE THROUGHOUT DYSLEXIA AWARENESS WEEK
Today’s entry for my Dyslexia in the workplace series is from a fantastic young writer called Jennifer Delaney. I originally connected with her online after coming across a piece she wrote about Dyslexia for the Women Make Waves website. In her piece, ‘Loving My Dyslexia’, Jenni talks about some of the issues she has when using grammar. I instantly connected with her struggles as after years of education, tutors, grammar books and online games I still have no idea how to use grammar; the comma being my number one source of frustration.
As well as difficulties with written language many Dyslexics report problems with short term memory. Jenni’s contribution illustrates how a one size fits all approach to dealing with members of the public can lead many to wonder why they bothered in the first place.
‘Dyslexia doesn’t affect your brain. It effects your abilities. It has nothing to do with your memory.’ This was said to me whilst I sat in a Job centre, recently redundant. It was said to me because I couldn’t remember my address properly. The woman who was taking my information accused me of trying to give in a false address, because I had to correct myself twice whilst giving it to her. I said I was really sorry, I struggle with all the numbers and spelling of it because I have dyslexia. She rolled her eyes and basically began to tell me I didn’t know what I was talking about. I couldn’t miss the patronising tone. She said ‘Dyslexia shouldn’t affect you here, you should know your real address’
I’d been diagnosed three months before this. 21, in my 3rd year of Uni. I’d always struggled and found things harder than people were supposed to but I kept my head down and pretended I knew or avoided things that would make it obvious I didn’t. I didn’t realise how people would respond to that word. I especially didn’t know how difficult it’s make the job application process. I was already a fish out of water. I hadn’t needed to look for a job in three years, now, I needed to find one as soon as possible.
My dyslexia support tutor told me not to mention it, that I could be discriminated against. Other people said I should be honest. At the encounter with this woman I had a moment where I decided never to mention it again. Then as she went on about people (i.e me) being lazy and dishonest, making up excuses for it, I decided I wouldn’t take it. I gave her my definition of dyslexia, difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols, perhaps problems with short term memory or comprehension but, it doesn’t affect my intelligence. She couldn’t sit there and tell me I didn’t know what I was talking about. I think it’s me who can’t organise her words or numbers correctly, I think it’s me who gets frustrated with myself all the time for it. I think I know what dyslexia is. I left the Job Centre shortly after that, I didn’t need people like that making things harder for me. So I went without, found small jobs helping out the elderly or freelance writing until I landed on my feet. Now I’m about to start a great job.
Words and artwork by Jennifer Delaney
Jennifer is a 21 year old graduate in creative writing and film. She’s an aspiring fantasy novelist and writer with a passion for creativity and art, find more of Jenni’s writing here.
The Codpast is a multimedia production from www.extraordinaire.tv