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#MyDyslexiaStory: Paul Gibbs

Friday 5 August 2022

As a child of the 80s, dyslexia didn’t exist and wasn’t a thing, you were just called things like slow, dumb or someone that caused trouble. I remember my mum telling me that in primary school (in year 3) my teacher told her I’d amount to nothing, as all I did was look out the window and didn’t do any work.

When it was time to go to secondary school, City Technology College’s (CTCs as they were known) started to pop up and one opened near me, so I attended there instead of the traditional local secondary school.

Even then it wasn’t until one of my teachers that pushed for me to be diagnosed (which was confirmed) that was deep into my secondary school life (late year 9). Even when I was diagnosed, some people still didn’t believe dyslexia was a thing.

When I saw the careers officer to talk about life after school, I told him I wanted to be a train driver. I was told that won’t happen and I should maybe set my sights a lot lower!

“Dyslexia had a massive impact on my life”

At the beginning it was all negative as I struggled to get the exam grades, job interviews (which I have to say are a lot harder these days) as well as the basic life skills, as every dyslexic person will tell you, filling out a form on the spot while someone is watching you is like sitting an exam in itself. But as I got older, I focused on the other impacts it had, which were positive, as you can see things differently. For example, you can see numbers, diagrams and blueprints in a different light and sometimes pick up on things a lot quicker than others.

Grateful for family and friends

I didn’t receive much support for my Dyslexia. My family and two best friends stuck with me giving me the extra help and support I needed. I did attend extra support classes in secondary school, but they were also attended by the real kids that caused all the trouble so wasn’t much help. I have learnt to support myself, especially with changes in technology (having things read back to me, imagining I am saying what I am writing and if all else fails asking my smart speaker for help).

Dyslexia and success!

Biggest achievement is my career. I left school when I was 16 (with GCSEs D to G) to become an office assistant. After getting noticed and finding my niche I worked my way up and I now a business owner with my own IT support company.

My advice for someone who has recently been diagnosed with dyslexia:

You might think that it’s a cruel joke that someone spelt a condition that when you have it, just looks like the random letters no one wants to use and that you’ll never even learn how to spell, but it’s not.

It is something that shouldn’t hold you back from anything you want to do in life, especially now-a-days. Don’t be afraid to tell people you have Dyslexia; you’ll be surprised how many people hide it (especially the older generation).

Use the tools that are available to you and try to relate what you are trying to do with something you know. I always thought of it as my brain is just wired up a little differently, therefore I need to build my own wiring to compensate (and I still am). But remember to flip that, you can likely do things that non dyslexic people have to do a lot of learning for, you just need to find your niche (for me, its computing – which was discovered by my IT teacher in year 7 and someone I did work experience with).

Be patient with yourself and don't get frustrated - You will get there, it just takes a little longer, that’s all.

I would like the world to know..

If this was the 80s or early 90s, I'd tell the world dyslexia IS a thing and that people might not be bored looking out the window. Dyslexia doesn't hold people back, you just need to remember that dyslexic people see things differently (especially when the English language uses the same spelling for different words). Be patient, just because you know the answer or it took you 3 seconds to get it, it'll take dyslexic 6 seconds.