Dyslexia has been my burden that I've been carrying since I was a little girl. Still today there are days that dyslexia pulls me down and affects me negatively. This is the one thing I hated and was ashamed of, but there is nothing I can do about it. This is a part of me whether I like it or not. I have suffered a lot because of it, so now is the time to be open and finally accept and take responsibility for my dyslexia.
It is important to understand how deeply dyslexia can affect a person if she/he has to hide it and be ashamed of it.
Three scenes from my life:
In preschool I noticed that something was wrong. I couldn't concentrate, the letters and numbers didn't say anything to me. In school, the real nightmare began. I didn't keep up with the other children. I began to believe that I'm stupid.
The pressure was too high too early. I vividly remember one day from the first grade. My teacher had not yet come to the classroom. I sat at my desk, my table top was open, so that others wouldn't see that I was crying. I was tired and sad, I knew I was doing poorly in school.I stood up, walked to the window and said that this is enough. I tried to jump out of the class window on the third floor. One of my classmates grabbed my shirt and stopped me. I felt like a failure. I said angrily, that I am leaving this school. I remember when I put on my shoes, and the others just laughed. I left the school, turned to the school at the yard and said crying aloud: “I will not come back here ever”.When I came home, my mother was there. We decided that I should go back to school immediately. Nothing changed, and the difficulties became worse. Everything continued as if nothing had happened. I was an active, brave and wild child, which made me able to hide my struggles and my sadness. I didn't get the support I needed, I just tried to survive in school. I learned to work hard and I had to get used to failing. In school we had to read out loud. My hands were sweating, so I put them under my desk and said a prayer: ”give a miracle that I don't need to read, but if I have to, please let it go as well as possible”. It always went badly.
My dyslexia was diagnosed in ninth grade. So there was a reason for my stupidity. The dyslexia test was horrible, it took a long time and I started to cry many times during the test when I realised that I can't complete the tasks. After the test, I was told that maybe I shouldn't go to college. It would not be my place and I would be better somewhere else. I remember that my parents were angry about this. But on the other hand, the test author was just trying to help, she saw how much I suffered and how I was crying in the test. She was trying to protect me. And yes, college was hard, but I graduated on time with decent grades. But at the same time I almost lost my life.
However, I wanted to be really good at something and at the same time I wanted to punish myself because I did not learn the same way as the others. As a teenager I started to eat less and less and tortured myself with hunger. Later this evolved into an eating disorder. That period has been a dark time in my life. When I was 18 years old, I was in a bad car accident. Those events hit me hard and made me stop and think that I can't keep living this way. I decided to change and get better.
The healing process from eating disorders was even harder than the illness itself. It seemed that every time I took a step forward I would go five steps backward. I had to brainwash myself and talk to myself nicely and encouragingly. I had to let myself eat and accept the terrible feelings eating normally brought with it. It was horrible. But I'm here now and completely healthy. I'm proof that you can heal completely from eating disorders and live life to the fullest. But dyslexia is here to stay. People who do not have dyslexia often belittle it and say that I should just work harder. This is very offensive. I work hard, but dyslexia is a feature like the color of my eyes. You can not change your eye color naturally. But you can learn to see things differently.
Dyslexia has made my life difficult, it still reminds me of itself. I have to, for example, record conversations, speeches and listen to them again. I don't like people looking at my notes because they are full of spelling mistakes. But at the same time, dyslexia has taught me to work hard and made me strongly willing to help, encourage and support others.What dyslexia really is in my life and how does it appear? I read more slowly and I have to read several times to understand what I have read. Words and numbers are messing up, naming is difficult, I don't remember the names of well-known and historical people or remarkable historical dates. I make a lot of spelling mistakes, the letters get mixed up, I don't hear the difference between the letters P and B or hear whether there is a double N in certain (Finnish) words or not. I mix right and left, learning the alphabet is an endless task. Embarrassing, isn't it? And the list just continues.What am I good at?
I love learning, reading and listening to books constantly. The stories fascinate me. I often see further than the others. I am brave, fast, I don't give up easily and I don't care about small failures. I have the desire to do new stuff, try and succeed. I'm good with people, care genuinely and want to help others to succeed. I can get things forward and done. Although dyslexia brings me down sometimes, I still see things very brightly and positively. I believe in myself and others and I can encourage others. I always see that eventually things will work out for the best. I've learned to be creative and solve problems in other ways.
People often think that dyslexia is something you can fix or heal from. This is not true, of course, and dyslexia will be a part of me always. And this should be accepted.
One of my daughters has dyslexia as well, but fortunately, the world has changed for the better. She gets the best support possible in school, she likes school and learns things just fine. I'm super proud of her.
Life is never black and white. I have also had a lot of good things in my life such as wonderful siblings and friends, I've got possibilities to see the world and my parents have taught me to have dreams and work hard for them ever since I was a little girl. I have had some good teachers, too. For example, my English and Swedish teachers in high school encouraged and helped me.
How am I today
Despite and because of dyslexia, I am doing well. I enjoy my profession in sales and marketing, there’s something about it for me. I have two gorgeous daughters and great close friends. It's funny how life can change completely, that's why it is important to understand that things can change. Keep the faith in yourself, be brave and don’t hesitate to find support and help. And always remember to be yourself. You're amazing just the way you are. Don't give up.
It is important to understand your own strengths and focus on them. We all learn, but in different ways. I feel it is important that children should be supported, encouraged and made to see how valuable they are and to strengthen their “I can do” -attitude and self-esteem - because that is the basis for all learning and development.
DIFFICULTIES CAN BE TURNED INTO STRENGTH. ”
SIRKKU JAUHIAINEN, FOUNDER OF MYDYSLEXIA.
I tell my own story. How dyslexia has affected me as child, as teenager and as adult. How dyslexia has changed me in good and bad. I also give tips on how to help in learning.
In the webinar, you will hear my story and the challenges I have had and have with dyslexia. I will also give concrete tips on how to help your child.
“EVERYBODY IS A GENIUS. BUT IF YOU JUDGE A FISH BY ITS ABILITY TO CLIMB A TREE, IT WILL LIVE ITS WHOLE LIFE BELIEVING THAT IT IS STUPID."
- ALBERT EINSTEIN