Hello, my name is Daniel & I have dyslexia and dyspraxia..
I think neuro-diverse profiles are still very much misunderstood. People seem to think that dyslexia means you can’t read, dyscalculia means you cannot count and dyspraxia is you can’t… keep your balance? But having a neurodiverse profile is far more than that.
As a child I was covered in bruises, and now I have scars on my knees and elbows, plus one on my chest. I always did okay in school, but was told that if I just applied myself, I’d do so much better. I got 11 GCSEs between A-C, then went on to do A levels. And later, did an access course which allowed me to get into nursing. It was here, on my access course that I was diagnosed with dyslexia and dyspraxia. I had heard of dyslexia, my Dad and one of my brothers have it. But what is dyspraxia? I wanted to ask these questions but I ran out of time with the educational psychologist, so I turned to Kerry, a friend of mine from twitter who runs Diverse Learners and whom is dyspraxic herself. She told me it’s more than falling over. It’s coordination, it’s memory, it’s perception and it’s processing. It’s difficulty with holding a pen, it’s struggling to do jigsaws and it’s reacting to a ’Oh Shiny’. Like dyslexia, it does not fit into a single box. Everyone’s experience is different.
Rough estimates suggest that 1 in 10 of the general population are affected and there is evidence to suggest that in certain caring professions this is much higher (Wray et al, 2008, 2012; Pace 2016). Research conducted at the University of Hull by Wray et al (2008, 2012) screened a cohort of nurses for dyslexia in their first week of the course and it indicated that 28% had characteristics of dyslexia and should go on for further assessment.
In my first year of nurse training, I disclosed to a senior staff nurse I had dyslexia and dyspraxia after struggling with the coordination required in ANTT. She snorted and said that they don’t exist; perhaps I just need to work harder. I wasn’t surprised by her response; as it wasn’t the first time I had been met with the attitude of ‘back in my day we didn’t have dyslexia’. However, what she said stuck with me, and now I can do ANTT/Scrub just as good as ANYBODY!
My dyslexia means I have processing issues. My determination means I don’t accept brush off answers. My mentor in my first year drilled in writing my notes with an A-E approach. I love this. I love systematic approaches. Throughout my nurse training I developed helpful coping mechanisms for my dyslexia. Colour coding words and symbols, two notebooks, mnemonics and mind-maps. I’ve turned those coping strategies into success strategies whilst working with Kerry, my 1:1 tutor throughout my time at university. These sessions were funded by the Disabled Student Allowance, or DSA. DSA is a government grant here in the U.K. which helps cover costs of resources and study
time that help make for an even playing field when you have a learning difficulty of health problem. It isn’t a hand out or a charity, but it gives those with neuro-diverse profiles and health needs the ability to complete their higher education without having to deal with potentially unfair disadvantages. DSA is available to part time and full time students and requires suitable medical evidence such as a full diagnostic assessment from an educational psychologist. These success strategies are things I’ve taken across with me into my Registered Nurse career.
I was surprised by the amount of nurses who have disclosed their dyslexia, but I’m disappointed with how few people make use of the Dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia: a toolkit for nursing staff from the Royal College of Nursing. I’d highly recommend that those with dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia read through so they know what their rights are, and I hope ward managers do to in order to help student and registered nurses with a neuro-diverse profile.
Dann at his graduation and in a Diverse Nurses video for Diverse Learners