Hello again. This week I thought I would share with you the article I published for the American Dyslexia Association, a really nice bunch of people looking to help share information and resource about dyslexia and dyscalcula, so here it is
I was diagnosed with dyslexia, aged 7. It was my mother who noticed it to start, as I had been able to get past my lack of reading in school by memorising books from people reading them to me. The big issue at this time was reading which I found incredibly hard and that meant my writing was reams behind my classmates. This all came to a head with my mum sending me to go and see a specialist teacher on the weekends, who helped me start to untangle
the strange symbols into letters, and then into words, but by this time I was far behind my friends in my writing. The good news was that as soon as I understood the letters I could read the words, in some fashion, and from there I started to fully grasp the English language and catapulted forwards with my reading, going from the worst in my class to one of the best readers – all in the space of a year or two and kindling a new found love of books that remains to this day. Sad to say though, I wasn’t out of the woods; in fact this is where the real issue with my dyslexia started.
Now I could read, articulate myself as well as the best of them and had no real down side to my reading so no obvious outwards expression of my dyslexia – until I started to write and it was there I really showed how severe I had it. The fact was that most teachers, classmates and the like couldn’t understand anything I wrote so I stopped writing and did the bare minimum of notes in class, which was fine at first, due to my ability to memorise things fairly well I could still cope in class but writing each year became more and more of an issue as the assessments got longer and longer and my ability to string a coherent sentence together got weaker and weaker, resulting in the need for a scribe for my GCSE and A levels. An issue that was slightly embarrassing at the time. But because I was good verbally and my recall was fine I was able to sit my exams, which I passed, and then I went to university. During my exam years I had stopped having specialist support lessons and help from teachers to try and improve my writing because the severity of my writing meant that I had reached a point where the staff of the school I was at, as well as the staff at my university, didn’t know what to do me, being in the top 1% of dyslexic in the world meant they could now just give support rather than provide an solution. But although my writing structure could not improve, having a scribe in the exams allowed me to speak the answers and as I could read and memorise things this was fine. However my lack of writing made it harder to really relate to people work wise as people couldn’t understand my emails, most people find my text messages difficult to decipher!!
My biggest issue at university, which was almost a forewarning for my later life, was that the majority of people don’t understand dyslexia and definitely don’t understand that it comes at different levels. My dissertation brought down my over all final grade at university because my dissertation tutor had no idea how bad I was and assumed I was like the majority of dyslexics he had seen with a “mild case” as he put it – but saying that I finished uni, got my degree in History and set off to join the army. A job I had been working towards for five years, mainly because I had realised at 14, during my first job, that the inability to write coherent sentences without some one checking them puts a big black mark against getting a lot of jobs. So I had got myself fit and had always been good at sports and assumed my life would centre on practical things outdoors – a career without writing. An idea I assume a lot of dyslexics have – to get as far away from writing as possible. Anyway as fate would have it, it was because of my dyslexia that the army failed me during my officer assessment. I actually have a letter from them acknowledging that my dyslexia is the problem and as they don’t have to comply with discrimination laws that was the end of the road for me. A sting that took a long time to get over – I found it hard to accept that something I was born with would stop me from doing a career that I thought I was meant to do.
From this point on though a very strange thing happened, I started writing, creative writing, maybe to help better myself or to prove to myself that I could, I don’t know but I started writing reams and reams of stuff and then landed on my series, Riders of the North, and I wrote all three books back to back; the two short stories and the main full novel story. It was at this time some of my family and friends heard about what I was doing and wanted to read them, to which I hesitantly obliged. Strangely enough they seemed to like them with comments like “that’s good” “very visual” “great battle scenes, very bloody” started coming back to me, followed by “You should try to get that published.”
Which leads me to here, probably the most severely dyslexic person you will meet who is an author with two books and a very small but still respectable audience, now trying to hit the big time and show the world that even if you are born with something that stops you from doing something, you still can. I shouldn’t be a writer. It’s crazy, if we bumped into each other in the street and you asked me to write down something for you I probably couldn’t – or if I did you wouldn’t understand it but here I am with two books because of hard work and a good team around me. And it’s put me almost into a position that I believe I was born to occupy; writing my stories is something I really enjoy doing, it takes a lot of editing to get it to publication but I want to show that with perseverance it can be done. I have no contacts to make my route in easy, no parent in publishing, no rich family to underwrite me, just a computer and a ton of hard work sprinkled with a bit of luck, and a heap load of dyslexia – which has made me so creative, something I now realise, and a good editor. So if you are dyslexic or know how hard dyslexia is to deal with then please help me get my books out there to an even wider audience, and share them with your friends, if I can do it anyone can and I hope sharing my story will inspire others.
If you want to help me with my book launch then do pick up a copy on any of the links below and share with your friends and colleagues. My thanks to the American Dyslexia Association for encouraging me to write this article and publishing it on their website http://www.dyslexia.me/
Tomos Roberts’ Website: https://ridersofthenorth.wordpress.com/