Living with dyslexia

“In Grade 1, I couldn’t write my name and I felt at this young age that I had already ‘failed’ murder novel. But now I just laugh about the errors – I’m completely content and open about it.” – Ashleigh Marshall

Do you have dyslexia or know anyone that does? We met up with Kayos’ Operations Manager, Ashleigh Marshall and her son, Adam Marshall, who were both born with dyslexia – a condition that makes it difficult for them to write, spell and read fluently.

What is dyslexia?

Loosely, dyslexia is a general term for disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols, but that do not affect general intelligence.

There’s a lot of confusion and feelings of negativity because children with dyslexia can only be tested accurately at 7 years old. Ashleigh explained that in Grade 1 she wasn’t able to spell her name and she felt as though she had already ‘failed’.

Common signs of dyslexia

  • Trouble with reading, writing, and spelling.
  • Issues with schoolwork.
  • Difficulty learning a foreign language.
  • Difficulty remembering numbers.
  • Poor handwriting.
  • Low self-esteem

People with dyslexia often appear as though they are ‘zoned out’ and not paying attention and Ashleigh felt that the teachers wrote her off because they didn’t understand the condition; one of the characteristics of dyslexic people is that they have a high IQ and are more than capable of understanding their work, but they just have difficulty making out the words on the page – that’s all.

Methods of coping with dyslexia

Both Ashleigh and Adam commented that they are very visual, meaning that they create pictures of the words in the sentence and play it back in their minds like a movie – this has been very successful for them. However, words such as ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘an’ prove to be a bit more difficult, simply because they can’t be visualised.

  • She would also draw pictures to remember words – e.g. hole and whole.
  • Types sentences in Google sometimes to see if she has found the right word – e.g. hear and here.
  • Technology has been an important tool that has allowed her and her son to excel.
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The bond between Ashleigh and Adam

Ashleigh and Adam don’t see dyslexia as a handicap in any way. She commented to Adam, “All of us are born with things we are good at and things we need to work at.”

Their shared condition has actually given them a strong bond because they are able to communicate to each other in ways that other may not understand.

Today, Ashleigh and Adam are succeeding exceptionally well; Adam is in Grade 7 and is eager for the challenges that he will face next year. Ashleigh’s colleagues have commented that they would not be able to cope without her! We congratulate you both for your strong attitudes and fighting spirits.