Until writing this, only one person at Capco knew that I’m dyslexic.
I never intended for it to be a secret, but over my career, that’s what it became. I have never felt any shame towards my dyslexia, I went through a lot of emotions when I was diagnosed at 14, but never shame.
In a 1-2-1 meeting in Year 9, a teacher asked me to read through my end of year report to myself and then we would discuss it. She gave me a minute to read the piece of paper, then started talking, but I wasn’t even halfway through. I asked for a bit more time.
Later in the day, she asked if I would be willing to speak to the school psychologist and 24 hours later, I was diagnosed as having dyslexia. I just thought, “Well, this explains why I do so badly in exams!”
Timed exams force you to read quickly, but my brain couldn’t link the words together and understand their role in a sentence, so I would frequently misinterpret questions.
A report of my diagnosis was sent home to my parents and my mum’s response was simply “So, what happens now?” The school said that I would receive 25 percent extra time in exams, but that was it. I still struggled to work though textbooks, so my exam results remained lower than expected. Aside from reading, I was smart, capable and hard-working. My teachers couldn’t understand why I could speak so well in class, but then get exam results that did not match my output and contributions.
I didn’t get the grades I needed for university, but I managed to talk my way in based on some of my extra-curricular activities. They gave me a chance, a chance that changed my life forever. I attended the University of Strathclyde and within my first week I was sent to an office of people who were employed to help students with learning difficulties. They gave me techniques for reading and interpreting text, as well as software to help me get through textbooks. Everything would take me four times longer than my classmates, but I could now achieve it, and as a result I graduated with a 2:1 in Marketing & Management in 2012.
I refer back to myself whilst at school as the “dyslexic me”. It feels like I was a different person back then. A non-academic person who was good at dance and theatre, but not at perceived academic subjects – learning was just “not my thing”. I am still dyslexic, but I have learnt how to manage it and never let it be an excuse for me underperforming. A few years ago, I was accepted to do a master’s in psychology at the University of St. Andrews, a uni that I had thought that “dyslexic me” would never have been able to attend!
So, not many people know I’m dyslexic, not because I’m ashamed, but because I’m proud to no longer be “dyslexic me” and I’m able to perform to the same standard as my colleagues without anyone realising. Don’t get me wrong, if someone asks me to read a large section of text, I do panic, but I now have so much more confidence in my academic ability.
I now lead Capco’s Neurodiversity Network in Scotland, so I felt it was important to share this with my colleagues, because I want to encourage everyone to speak about any difficulties they face. Even if you can’t think of anything that would help you, there are experts who can!
Here are some confidential advice lines:
Dyslexia Scotland: 0344 800 8484
British Dyslexia Association: 0333 405 4567