Diagnosed later in life with dyslexia, I have first-hand experience of the interrelatedness between dyslexia, anxiety, and negative emotion.
After completing a master’s degree, I undertook an education training course at a local University. Here I was asked by a Lecturer specialising in learning difficulties to have a screening for dyslexia. I had never imagined myself to be dyslexic, despite struggling with education and completing school without formal qualifications. On reading the diagnostic report, mysteries of my difficulties at school and the frustration I felt from not understanding my learning started to unravel. This marked the beginning of my interest in dyslexia. Later, after completing a master’s degree in Special and Inclusive Education and a specialist course on dyslexia, I became a dyslexia practitioner, and now have a successful track record in supporting dyslexic higher education students with their cognitive and emotional learning needs. I continued my academic journey to become a Doctor of Education. My research interests are in dyslexia, its association with anxiety and social / emotional difficulties for the dyslexic student at university.
I was motivated to write the book because, firstly, I understand looking back at various events in my life, that it was always anxiety and fear of feeling and looking stupid, a consequence of my dyslexia and early negative schooling, rather than cognitive difficulties associated with dyslexia, that blocked me from progressing and being fulfilled in my life.
Secondly, building from my personal experiences, the book was driven by a problem I identified in my working practice as dyslexia support tutor where I work with students who have the potential to excel academically. Their own negative emotion, however, such as anxiety, similarly to my earlier circumstances, as an effect of their dyslexia, would frequently have a more harmful impact upon their progress than any dyslexia difficulties. For instance, I would work with students with high levels of intellect who refused to undertake assessed elements of their degree, such as exams or presentations. Not because of their inability, but solely due to the anxiety that these academic tasks would generate.
My third motivation was driven by a desire to raise awareness of the wide-scale prevalence of anxiety for the dyslexic student, in the hope that education professionals can gain a deeper understanding of these individuals support needs. That is because identification of the obstacle of anxiety, both within my earlier self and individuals I work with, led me to undertake thesis research, which the book is based upon. This involved conducting a comparison of one hundred and two diagnosed dyslexic students with seventy-two non-dyslexic students to measure differences in anxiety between the two groups. Results revealed a far greater level of anxiety for the dyslexic group. In fact, the science world calls these results statistically significant. This helped to confirm the issue of anxiety for the dyslexic learner needed to be given prominence to through the voices of these students’ personal stories of anxiety.
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