Life is a bit like a rollercoaster. It has its ups and downs. Well, for a kid with Dyslexia, that rollercoaster is not an enjoyable ride. Not initially anyway. The world can be a really scary place for a young kid with a learning disability.
In the following paragraphs, I’m going to take you through my own personal experience as a child living with Dyslexia. I’m an adult now, but Dyslexia stays with you for life. There is no cure, and there is no easy fix. Just a determination to succeed. Now, I am going to be brutally honest with you. I’m not going to sugar coat my story, as people need to know the reality of living with Dyslexia.
I was 5 years old. Not many people remember that far back, but I do. Traumatic events stay with you for life. They don’t change, and you never forget them. What does change is how you perceive them.
I remember my early school days very well. My teacher was the first one to recognize that I was “different”, so she decided to separate me from the rest of the kids. She would set up a small table and chair behind her desk where I would sit facing the wall, alone, isolated from the rest of the students. If I turned around, all I could see was the teacher’s back. In front of me, was just a blank wall. I was completely secluded. I could feel the way the other kids were looking at me, they viewed me as different, they viewed me as weak. That, of course, eventually led to bullying, but I will touch on that later.
Sometimes, the teacher would pull me out of class and place me in a group with other “underachievers” where another teacher would help us. Help? It was more like verbal abuse. I would try to write something and the teacher would yell in my ear: “Make your letters bigger! You’re so stupid!” She would then tear up my work and throw it in the bin and get me to start again. At this age, I was a small and vulnerable child, Dyslexia had stripped me out of all my self-confidence and self-esteem.
Back in this days, Dyslexia was not yet well understood. It was known, but no one knew how to really treat the condition as the research was new and the correct methods to teaching Dyslexic children was still not recognized.
So throughout primary school, I was taught in the same ineffective ways. I was failing all my classes, trying to understand what was wrong with me. When you hear people calling you stupid and slow all the time, you eventually start believing it. It was hard for me to socialize with other kids, I just could not fit in with the others, I had no one to talk to and instead I was in constant battle with myself. I saw no future for myself. Every time I thought I hit rock bottom, I discovered that I could still go lower. I kept falling, but the bottom was fast approaching.
Being called “stupid”, “different” and “slow” on a daily basis had a huge impact on my confidence. I don’t think I had any. But the worst thing was the bullying. I was a prime target of my fellow class members.
During break times, most of the kids went outside to play and have fun. For me, however, it was hell. I had kids running off with my school bag and dumping its entire contents all over the playing fields and playground. I would be confronted each day by a group of boys who would wait until the teacher was out of sight before they dragged me into the bathroom, where they would punch and kick me to the ground. If I tried to get up, another foot would come in and kick me to the stomach to put me back down. I had no chance.
Once the bell for class would ring, they would all leave, and I would still be there lying on the floor unable to get back up. After a few minutes, I would get back up, dry the tears and head back to class as if nothing happened. The teacher would then yell at me for being late. This happened so often that I just came to accept it. No one could help me, not even the teachers since they were never around when the bullying took place. They would all head to the staff room during their breaks. A few times, I tried to explaining to them what was going on, but I would always get a pat on the shoulder or get sent back to my desk. They either did not care for what I had to say or knew what was happening and just turned a blind eye. Now I had hit rock bottom.
I didn’t sleep at night. I would stay up all night worrying about what tomorrow might bring. I would cry do much that the next morning my eyes would so sore that I could hardly see. My parents tried to help me, and they were the best parents a kid could ever ask for. They were so supportive and fought hard to prove to the education department that Dyslexia was a real thing. They fought all my wars on all fronts and if it was not for them, I would not be here today.
Primary school was the worst time in my life, and after years of bullying, low confidence and hate being directed at me on a daily basis, I was at breaking point. But, I somehow pushed through and found the strength to carry on. Most people think dyslexia means that you are just poor at reading and writing. That’s only part of it. There are other side effects that are usually present with Dyslexia, such as anxiety, Dyspraxia, poor memory skills and Dyscalculia, just to name a few. I have everything that I just mentioned.
So everything I have wrote so far seems pretty dark, right? Well, having Dyslexia also has its advantages, and people who have Dyslexia hold some very unique skills that can change the world, so lets take a look at the positives here.
Did you know that Dyslexics have amazing special awareness skills in the 3D world? For this reason, more than 50% of NASA employees are Dyslexic. NASA is able to look past the negative opinions about this condition and use Dyslexia to its advantage. Ever heard the saying “Think outside the square?”. Dyslexics don’t do that, we think outside the Cube. We are unique thinkers and to complete a task, we think up alternative and mostly creative methods.
Dyslexics have the gift of creativity. What’s my creative gift? Sound. I am now 32 years old and I have been a Sound Recordist and Audio Producer for the past 16 years. I am able to record sound with high and detailed precision, and it is something that just comes naturally to me. I can de-construct a band in my head to hear the individual elements that make up a track, when others can only hear the overall melody as it plays. I am a whiz with technology, and pretty good with computers and systems.
Looking back, I now realize that to find strength, I needed to go through those vulnerable experiences. Dyslexia doesn’t make you weak, but it makes dealing with certain situations a bit more difficult. Going through it, you gain the ability to better deal with adverse situations. You have to use what you’ve been given and find strength from it, and make Dyslexia work for YOU!
Some of the most famous and successful people grew up with Dyslexia. Richard Branson….. He’s a Dyslexic. Keanu Reeves (Also known as “The One” in the matrix) is also a Dyslexic. Tom Cruise, Steve Jobs…Dyslexic! Do I need to go on?
Since school, I have worked in theater sound, and also television, and got to work with many of most famous A-list celebrities such as Gwen Stefani, 50 Cent, Coldplay, Ewan McGregor, Maria Carey and many others. I moved from the UK to Australia to live and set up the very first Aboriginal Music Centre. From there, I went back into TV and now do Location Sound for one of Australia’s longest running kids TV shows that looks at action sports, animals and nature. Alongside that, I have my own audio business where I specialize in Sound FX recording. Savillsound.com
I look back on my childhood and I am now thankful for it. At the time, I thought it was hell when it was happening, and it was, but it was also blessing in disguise as it has defined me and made me the person I am today. I feel stronger than ever with great confidence and have identified my strengths as well as my weaknesses. What I am saying is, if you have Dyslexia, don’t fight it, embrace it, because eventually it will lead you to incredible things. You just have to learn, like I did, to find the positives in any situation and make it work for you.
About The Author
Chris “Savvy” Savill is currently setting up to do motivational speaking in schools to talk about his experiences and inspire students who have Dyslexia. He wants to bring more awareness about the issue to students so that they have a much better understanding of it and so that they can help their fellow classmates as well.
I am also writing a book. For all the details, Please follow and like me on my Facebook Page and to get in contact at https://www.facebook.com/savvymotivation