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David Bradley shares his dyslexia story and how his strengths have helped him become the teacher he is today.

Tuesday 8 June 2021

David discovered he had dyslexia at 29. Despite his reading and writing struggles, he feels his dyslexia has given him a creative mind, excelling in art and design, and led him on a career path to support others as a considerate teacher that can adapt to the needs of every child.

“I believe that my own struggles have allowed me to empathise with children that need additional support in my school, and I am quick to realise these needs.”

David Bradley

I was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of 29 (February 2021); I am currently 30. I have thought for many years that there was a possibility I had dyslexia, but never took action in to confirming it. Looking back at my primary school reports, there was evidence of dyslexic struggles, and a common theme ran through each one that identified reading as a weakness, and also writing (spelling). It was when I started my masters in dyslexia research and practice that confirmed my thinking for so many years. So I then made the decision to explore it. As a result, my thoughts were confirmed.

The challenges and the successes

Reading was never something that I have enjoyed, unless it is reading something that is of interest - I can probably count the number of books I have read fully on one hand. I have never found it to be a relaxing experience and it is a process that I find very energy consuming. If a text is 'fresh' to me, it could potentially take me some time to read. I will avoid reading aloud or in front of people, unless I have seen the text prior, as I would stumble over words. I become very conscious of my reading style.

The process of writing at length, e.g. essay writing and proof reading, is also a challenge for me as it can be very energy consuming and I can become easily distracted because of this.

Despite these struggles, I am very determined, conscientious and I have pushed myself in to achieving well. I studied Primary Education at university, resulting in me becoming a Primary School teacher, and I am the school SENDCo. I am currently studying a masters in Dyslexia Research and Practice.

I am very creative, and have always enjoyed design. I achieved A's in my Art and Graphics GCSEs and also A's at A Level in both areas too. I now believe that my dyslexia contributed to me to having such skills. Through my dyslexia assessment it also highlighted that I scored highly on my non-verbal tests, scoring a standardised score of 132. I enjoy problem solving and solving pictorial patterns.

I believe that my own struggles have allowed me to empathise with children that need additional support in my school, and I am quick to realise these needs. It has allowed me to be a considerate teacher who adapts their teaching to ensure children get the support they need and are provided with the correct tools to achieve.

Getting the right support

In primary school I received support for my reading through intervention and reading 1:1. However, since my diagnosis this year, I have received fantastic support from my university lecturer, my dyslexia assessor, and DSA/student finance. I am now using different assistive technologies that have already made a supportive impact on my university writing and I have also got a great tutor who has provided me with great advice and resources to support me in my writing and reading at masters level.

Supporting the children that need it

I gained a first in my Primary Education degree, passed the NASENCO course and I am now studying for a masters in Dyslexia Research and Practice, which will allow me to become specialist dyslexia teacher and an accredited dyslexia accessor. This will allow me to support children who need it. I also sit on the senior leadership team of an outstanding primary school.

What advice would you have for someone who has recently been diagnosed with dyslexia?

Know that it is a gift that allows you to see and think about things differently. Look for the positives, highlight and build on your strengths and always find the humour in things.

Despite the struggles and difficulties, there are so many positives to having dyslexia. It shouldn't be seen as a bad thing.