A 10-year-old girl in the UK has nailed what it's like to be dyslexic in an incredible poem her teacher has shared via social media.
Jane Broadis, a teacher from the UK, posted the poem on Twitter on Thursday explaining that she had been working with her Year 6 students on poems that can be read both forwards and backwards.
As a dyslexic adult the poem brings back painful memories of my school days and being labelled "stupid" and "lazy" by teachers. But reading the poem, by the young author known only as AO, bottom up reveals the resilience and determination that many dyslexic children (given the right support) have.
Today in Y6 we looked at poems that could be read forwards & backwards. I was stunned by this one written by one of my 10 year olds. Please share - I would love her work to be appreciated further afield. I wonder if it could even find a publisher? pic.twitter.com/tmEQpiRrhq— Jane Broadis (@Jb5Jane) February 27, 2019
The poem is definitely hitting a nerve within the dyslexic community. So many Replies to Broadis' tweet are from dyslexic people who were shamed or even bullied by teachers for poor spelling.
"Wonderful! I was called stupid by my year 6 teacher," says one reply.
Another person responded: "Thanks. My second grade teacher threw a paper in my face and asked if I was stupid."
Sadly this experience is all too common. In fact, the Australian Dyslexia Association, 95 per cent of adult dyslexics recall being told they were "dumb" or "lazy," or made to feel that way.
But while experiences like this are still common, the world is slowly starting to wake up and realise the value of people who think differently. A recent report from EY has highlight the unique skill set that dyslexic people can bring to the world. "Our findings show the huge benefits to be had from taking action to maximise dyslexic strengths," the report said.
Many famous dyslexic people attribute some of their success to their dyslexia. People like Keria Knightly, Jamie Oliver and Orlando Bloom have appeared in videos for the global charity Made by Dyslexia.
Closer to home, the artist Vincent Fantauzzo, an ambassador for the Code read Dyslexia Network, says that dyslexia is a superpower. "You only need to look at the number of successful dyslexic people out there to see that it gives you something special. For me it's my creativity," he says.
Although there is more recognition of the positive side of dyslexia, for children in the Australian school system, being dyslexic can still be a rough ride. In a Facebook page of 12,000 parents, threads on struggles with diagnosis and lack of support are common. Some parents have gone as far as removing their children from school altogether.
Sandra Marshall is the chair of the Code Read Dyslexia Network. She says that young dyslexics who are not adequately supported can face life long disadvantage. "Young people who have not received effective literacy instruction at school often leave as functionally illiterate and are therefore at a greater risk of unemployment, living off social welfare, underachieving, suffering from mental health conditions and in some instances incarceration," she told me.
Code Read is fighting to change the system and they're not alone. Georgia Ryan is a 13-year-old dyslexia activist from Port Macquarie. She recently started a change.org petition calling for compulsory 'learning difference' training to be included in Australian teacher training.
My name is Georgia and I’m 13. I’ve started an online petition to try and have a compulsory core module on learning differences introduced into every teaching degree in 🇦🇺 Please take a look, sign and share ❤️ #iamdyslexic #ownit #bethechange #dyslexiaawareness #support #portmacquarie #petition #pleasesign #share http://chng.it/yRwySM6Y6y
"Even though my teachers were all so kind and caring, they struggled in knowing how to help me and understand why I was having so many difficulties," she writes.
"It took several years before I was diagnosed due to my parent's persistence and determination."
After reading the dyslexia poem this morning I sent it to Georgia and asked her what she thought. "AO's poem is incredible," she replied.
"So often others try and label us as somehow 'lesser' than our peers, but AO has shown that we shouldn't let those labels define us."
AO's poem in full:
I am stupid.
Nobody would ever say
I have a talent for words
I was meant to be great.
That is wrong
I am a failure.
Nobody could ever convince me to think that
I can make it in life.
(Now read up).