In May 2015, I attended an adult network meeting in Glasgow. The topic for discussion was ‘living with a dyslexic – a partner’s perspective’. Hearing the discussion was really enlightening – I really started to understand my husband better. I’d suspected for some time that my husband and stepson were dyslexic, but at that time none of us knew for sure. I was already on a journey to discover more about some of the difficulties that I’d faced over the years and was assessed as dyspraxic in June 2015.
Fast forward to spring 2016 and my stepson had been screened at school and confirmed to be dyslexic. As a result of this, my husband decided to go for an assessment too, and the results confirmed his suspicions.
In my current role, I’ve learned a great deal about the journeys that people go through when they discover that they are dyslexic later in life. There is a need to reframe the difficulties that the person has faced in school, college/university, work and life in general; away from ‘why don’t I get this as quickly as other people?’ to ‘ah, that’s why I struggled with that!’.
If you have an understanding partner to talk these difficulties through with, it can help them to understand why you do those things that drive them round the bend. Even after 12 years together, we’ve learned new things about why we do what we do – especially around life admin. In previous years, I never really understood why the confident man I knew, felt anxious about booking a train journey while we were on holiday in Italy and why he had many piles of unopened mail! Now I understand that dyslexia was the reason. Trying to decipher timetables and communicate well enough to buy a ticket is hard enough, without trying to do this in another language too; opening a letter might mean reading complicated instructions, processing that information, then trying to find the right way to respond (and procrastinating a fair bit along the way – but that’s a whole other blog!).
We do wind each other up regularly – Me: ‘Why did you do/not do that?’ Husband: ‘Come on, don’t you know I’m dyslexic?! Or vice versa. We have a laugh about our foibles and the tension dissolves. I know I’m lucky, I have a neurodiverse mind and so does my husband – we can understand and empathise now about why we each do those things that drives the other one round the bend. We have grown as a couple, as we have learned more about how dyslexia and dyspraxia impacts on our daily and family life.
I know that not everyone has such understanding partners and if you are in that situation, please know that you are not alone. Come along to one of our adult network meetings. There is a real mixture of people, between those who learned that they were dyslexic while at school, but never really understood much about how dyslexia impacted on their daily lives; those who found out only when they went to college or university and thrived when they finally got the support that they needed; to those who found out much later in their lives and are still on a journey to learn more about themselves. All of them have stories to tell and strategies that have worked for them – come along and hear all about them. And if you feel like it, tell your own dyslexia story.
To learn more about the Dyslexia Scotland Adult Network meetings, visit our website here.
Helen, Volunteers Manager