From education to employment

Dyslexia Is My Second Shadow

Living with a second shadow is not the best thing in the world, to be carrying around with you, the other shadow can be, much darker and cunning and deceptive. It is not the normal colour of a shadow, light gray and blending in the background, that normally appears on the sunniest of days. But the other shadow has an even darker side to it, it just hides in the wings! and is waiting for the opportunity to step out into the light.

Dyslexia is transparent, so most people are unaware of what is lurking in my second shadow. Yes, you could be right, it does sound a bit like, a murder mystery novel.

Dyslexia can be a little bit like a cloak and dagger movie, that some people have heard about, but do not fully understand. The consequences that follow it. This could be depression, anxiety, and a sense of not belonging, this could lower your sense of well-being, because we are unable to do, what comes as second nature to most people. The cloak and Dagger side to dyslexia, it does not come with any titles to help you, so you could be walking a tightrope sometimes. The difference is you do not know when it is going to appear, but it is still hiding and believe me you do not really have any control over it.

It does not discriminate; you are either born with it or not. Then thinking about how you are, going to deal with it, then start to move forward, then slowly starting to embrace it. One of the hardest things to do is ask other people for help, so you are acknowledging that you do have dyslexia, that your other shadow does exist, even though it’s hiding in the wings, for the time being. Your coping strategies will keep growing and help you to keep it at bay. It will appear to slow it down, for the time being, until that shadow raises its head again.

I have not got many good memories from my younger days, being at school. Most of them are just, dark secrets because I was made to sit right at the back of the classroom by my teacher, as she believed that I was just a disruptive child. I did develop a nervous blinking habit. Because I was shouted at so many times, by my teacher. You could say my second shadow started to develop back in the early years. I could not really understand, why I was being treated differently to the other kids. I was soon to find out as a teenager, that my father also had dyslexia, which was a bit of a shock to me, because he was my hero. I would like to add he is still my “Hero”

He would never admit, to having learning difficulties (Dyslexia), but he did become self-employed and started up two businesses. Starting off with a garage doing car services, then moving on to running a small coach company, that put food on the table. That was important to him. I do believe that he could see in me, that I was having the same problems at school with English and other subjects like he did, we became incredibly good friends.

I did realise in time, that there is a parallel path, that runs alongside my dyslexia one. That is for certain, at that time I had no control over, and that I would be following it, long into my adult life. Sometimes these paths would cross over. Looking back, they were probably the, most life-changing events. I wound never be able to rewind and start again, as time moves forward the dyslexia really does not change. Because anyone that has dyslexia would probably understand. You are standing on that parallel path. Looking over and seeing a different view of the world. Some people would say that “I cannot see the wood for the trees”, and yes, it is a bit of a cliché. It really would be good if you could see the world through our eyes. As the saying goes be careful what you wish for, it could take a lifetime to try and understand dyslexia, and I am still learning. In time, that second shadow is still there but not hiding in the wings, it still has that dark side to it, but you do have to come to terms with it. because it is part of your DNA.

Most employers these days require us to have even the basics of, literacy and numeracy, and some people, think that is the only way to communicate, in the world today. Yes, there are lots of strategies that are put in place to help people with dyslexia and many other learning difficulties. This is like trying to pigeonhole someone, because even people with dyslexia all learn in a different way. It is like saying we all have tunnel vision. But that is simply not true. Time waits for no one, so hopefully, in the future the word dyslexia, will not carry the stigma, “does not read or write very well, so they can’t be very smart”.

Well getting back to me, I have had several different jobs in the past, some good, some not so good. I have come across many challenges within my life, some of them bring to, my knees and sometimes crying, and others making me fill 8 feet tall. If there was a moral to this story it would say “don’t judge a book by its cover” my last job before the (Covid-19), I was a senior work coach helping and guiding people with a wide range of disabilities including dyslexia, helping to get them back into the workplace.

Jeffrey Oliver, Senior Work Coach

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