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Dyslexia Awareness Week at Colosseum Dental UK

Dyslexia is a genetic difference in an individual’s ability to learn and process information. It influences at least 1 in 10 people; however, many may have not received a diagnosis. Despite its commonality, it is often hidden, and those living with dyslexia make countless compromises to ‘fit in’ to a neurotypical society. 

This week, the 3rd – 9th October 2022, is Dyslexia Awareness Week. Introduced by the British Dyslexia Association (BDA), this week is intended to celebrate those with dyslexia and highlight how those individuals have overcome obstacles in their lives – this could be during education, work, or in their general day-to-day lives. 

We spoke to Danielle, one of our Business Development Managers at Colosseum Dental UK, on her experience of dyslexia and how it presents itself to her within her working life. 

How does Dyslexia present itself to you?

Dyslexia is a learning disorder, which presents itself to me in the way I read or write things. I sometimes mix my letters up whilst writing, and don’t see the mistakes until pointed out to me. 

I have some difficulty in writing things down, but I’m able to express well orally. I find imagery helps me a lot: text with images helps my mind open up and understand better to visualise it, as I can’t soak in and retain pages of writing or information. To be hands-on really helps me to understand problems and to express things. 

When did you first learn that you could be Dyslexic, and how did this make you feel? 

There were no initial signs at early stages of school. I had a great childhood; learning well and having fun - I was always drawing and expressing how I felt in images. 

As I got older and started to develop through the year groups at school - especially into secondary school - I found it a little more challenging with reading long texts in English and found that I was writing letters the wrong way round. But I didn’t let it affect me. I didn’t think much of it back then and dealt with my own learning techniques to ensure I excelled. 

I guess maybe back then I felt embarrassed and didn’t want to feel or be treated differently to my peers, so I didn’t express to my teachers if I was finding anything difficult, as I was finding my own way. 

What barriers have you faced? 

I have faced problems with reading aloud and being slower at reading due to mistaking words and letters. This had affected how I approach public speaking and presenting to others. 

I’ve also faced barriers in my mindset - I had to change my mind set to being positive that dyslexia was a barrier I could face and overcome. 

I think now I’ve learnt to overcome my own thinking about how people will perceive me, I have expanded my confidence. 

How does it tend to impact on your working or day to day life?

As mentioned before, I was never one to express to anyone if I was struggling. I would teach myself ways to overcome - I would build up images to represent texts I had to learn to understand, and I would use autocorrect when writing on computers. 

I wish I had opened up back then, as I think my self-confidence was affected because of this, but since finally going to get a diagnosis, it’s opened up doors to me.  

When I trained to be a nurse, I thought I would struggle and one negative thought I had was “how would I cope?”, but the informational tools given were amazing and tutors were understanding. Even now, from an operational role, I still find challenges, emails, letters etc… but I take my time and review the techniques I have learnt. Even in day to day life, my daughter could give me a run for my money for letter essay writing! But I look at it in a different angle - I learn the same information, just in a slightly different way. And I’ve found a career I love but have to be hands on to develop.

Do you feel that your Dyslexia has had a positive impact on you?

I think so, my dyslexia has made me the person I am today. Proactive, unafraid of a challenge, open, approachable and passionate. My dyslexia has given me a deeper drive to put myself out there, ask questions - don’t be afraid to change your understanding. “I may have dyslexia, but dyslexia does not have me” is a quote I love. I may learn differently but it won’t hold me back.

Is there anything that you’re particularly proud of overcoming? 

I’m proud of overcoming the fear of rejection, of not being able to keep up, and needing extra support.  No one should have to feel like that. Support is there and if you need it - ask for it. I think at the beginning I was my worst enemy and thought the worst, but now I know how I learn best. Open up and be honest about it, the reception is welcomed!

What support is offered at Colosseum Dental UK to you?

I am given the support and encouragement to be open, especially if I’m finding anything particularly challenging which effects my dyslexia. 

I am met with understanding and my peers wish to learn about what I find helpful to adapt into my working life. I work well with colours, so I can have my diaries on our systems set up in colour format. This means that when I come to review diaries I see the colour, not just what the appointment is. For example, fillings are green, crown preps are yellow, examinations are blue! I see the colours instantly, which helps we see details a lot quicker than just looking at the appointment written down in all same colour! 

For more information on Dyslexia, please visit the British Dyslexia Association website here

At Colosseum Dental UK, we offer support to all of our colleagues – if you feel as though you may need to speak to someone about either an existing diagnosis or a suspected diagnosis, please contact our Learning & Development team members, Zoe and Jason on learning.development@colosseumdental.co.uk.