Sarah’s problems with reading started in her first year of primary school when she was often sick and off school. According to Sarah, ‘This was when I should have been learning the basics of phonics and word recognition. When I was offered Biff and Chip books on my return I tried reading them but I really couldn’t get my head around the words. Instead I would make them up as I went along. I felt very confused’.
Once in middle school Sarah felt she struggled to fit in. ‘I was the only kid who only just knew how to spell her name, couldn’t tell the time and couldn’t read’ she says. Other children made unkind remarks like ‘She can’t read’ and ‘She must be stupid’. Sarah hid her struggles from her parents and whilst they did their utmost to help her and praised everything she did, they weren’t aware of the true extent of her problems.
Sarah’s headteacher finally recognised that she needed help and suggested that she might have dyslexia. Sarah says, ‘I used to get upset in class because I didn’t understand why I couldn’t make sense of things when everyone else seemed to have no difficulty. Now I had a label for what was going on but this just upset me and made me feel marked for life. However, with help from a particular teacher called Mr Thompson, I moved back into mainstream and made my way through middle school’.
Upper school presented the same challenges; however, GCSE year was a particularly crucial milestone for Sarah and wasn’t as terrifying as she had expected. She was given extra help and did well in subjects she liked like RE and drama.
Once Sarah was faced with the world of work, the challenges of not being able to read returned. Sarah’s first job was as a pharmacy assistant but she was only there a few months after struggling with the paperwork. Later Sarah worked in a nursery, however although she loved working with the children, she found her reading and writing skills made it difficult for her to continue. There was a lot of form filling required and she couldn’t read to the children.
Sarah went on to have twin daughters of her own. ‘One of my main frustrations was not being able to teach the girls about everything around us from books. I thought I would love the worlds that encyclopedias opened up but I didn’t have a clue what the text said’ Sarah says. ‘I also wanted to be able to read them funny stories and do voices but that was impossible for me’.
In 2015 Sarah started to learn to read with Read Easy. According to Sarah, ‘Before, if you had asked me to read a menu or go to the library I would have changed the subject very quickly. The thought of telling someone I couldn’t read because I had dyslexia, or admitting that I had a problem, was a massive issue for me. Today I love being able to offer to read something out loud. I’ll read a menu or instructions, or learn something new through books or online’ Sarah says.
She continues, ‘There was a time when I would panic or change the subject when it came to reading with my twin daughters. I have always struggled, but to deny your own children the chance to hear you read to them was heart wrenching. It’s the best feeling in the world to be able to read with your children’.
"It’s the best feeling in the world to be able to read with your children."Sarah - Graduate Reader