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Identify dyslexia early to achieve full potential

Tutor helping a young student with his studies
Tutor helping a young student with his studies

It’s estimated that if affects a staggering ten per cent of the UK population.

Albert Einstein, Steven Spielberg, Richard Branson, and even Henry Winkler (Ayyyyy...) all achieved great success in their fields, despite battling this disorder every day of their lives.

We’re talking - of course - about dyslexia.

But while dyslexia was, for many years, misunderstood and unrecognised, a qualified dyslexia assessor from South Yorkshire has now revealed that early diagnosis can be instrumental in helping someone with dyslexia to achieve their full potential.

Charlotte Bell runs CLB Dyslexia Support in the region and has claimed it is vital for parents to focus on their child’s learning needs, getting them assessed sooner rather than later for dyslexia, if they are showing some of the signs, such as slow processing skills.

“Too often people leave dyslexia assessments up until the exam period when there’s a mad rush and when in fact receiving an early diagnosis can be instrumental in helping someone with dyslexia,” said Charlotte.

“Whether it be at university, school or even in the workplace, there is a vast range of support these days for people.”

Charlotte has runs CLB Dyslexia Support for the past two years. The Barnsley-based company assesses and teaches people with dyslexia, and - according to Charlotte - knowing that you or your child is dyslexic can be a huge benefit as the assessments can outline a person’s strengths as well as their weaknesses.

“Often someone with dyslexia is highly talented in certain areas but not in others,” said Charlotte.

“In addition, dyslexic individuals frequently exhibit high intelligence; it is just that they are slow at processing certain things and their handwriting may be illegible.

“But once they know they’re dyslexic it can help to boost their confidence as there are a plethora of coping mechanisms and strategies which they can use to help them, especially when it comes to academia and exams.”

The assessment itself involves a range of diagnostic tests which measure a person’s speed of processing, underlying ability, attainment and phonological processing.

Charlotte said: “Dyslexia is regarded as a disability under the Equality Act 2010. It is vital that people who think they or their child may be dyslexic have an assessment because it is often the key to unlocking their full potential.”

Mum-of-two Sophie Mei Lan didn’t discover she was dyslexic until she was at university, and has revealed that the diagnosis was ‘like a lightbulb going on.’

“People always thought I was ‘dizzy’ and a bit ‘slow’,” said Sophie, aged 29, who went to school in Pitsmoor.

“So being diagnosed whilst I was at university studying Philosophy and Italian meant that I could access so much support through the disability service, such as tutoring and assistive technology.

“Simple things like reading long texts with a green overlay really helps me. And when I am writing long pieces I can use spider diagrams and note-cards to help with the chronological order of my work.

“Being dyslexic means that, whilst I am slow at processing in certain areas, I am also very creative and think laterally. I can see things in a way that most people can’t. I’m rubbish at jigsaws but I’m brilliant at making films.

“The ironic thing is that I work freelance as a journalist, publicist and blogger – so anything is possible with the right help and coping strategies. When I write now, my brain is often on overdrive, slowly working out the word order and which letters go where, and reading it back gives me a small headache.

“I remember difficult spellings by rhymes in my head and I try to type instead of hand-write as my hand-writing is hard to understand.

“For me, it was extremely helpful being diagnosed with dyslexia. It helped to explain why I had always had to work so hard to achieve at school.”

The British Dyslexia Association estimates that as many as 10 per cent of the UK population has a dyslexic profile and that the majority of these cases do not receive any specialist intervention.

Charlotte Williams, of Barnsley, was diagnosed as dyslexic when she was 30, and starting her university degree.

She said: “When I was diagnosed it did help drop things into place. I had never done well academically but knew that I wasn’t totally stupid. Reading and spelling had been a problem but I just found coping strategies.

“Once diagnosed I treated it as a positive, accessing the additional support offered by university. I did my own research on how to turn dyslexia into my super power and refused to let it hold me back.

“Yes I do have to ask for help at times - like when important documents need proofreading - but I can’t think it’s held me back. At the grand age of 43 I completed my Masters Degree and have always been able to hold down a job. I never shy away from sharing with my work colleagues that my reading and spelling skills are not brilliant, but always try to compensate by being better at other things.

“At the end of the day, everyone has things that they don’t do well so ultimately everyone has a ‘disability’ and it’s definitely better to know yourself.”

If you think your child may be dyslexic, speak with their school’s SENCO teacher. If they’re at university, encourage them to speak to their disability team. Visit clbdyslexiasupport.co.uk