Search results for 'dyslexia'

Dyslexia-Friendly Storytelling

15 Feb

I’ve just written a wee blog post for Dyslexia Scotland about the BBC’s 500 Word story competition for children – a very dyslexia-friendly competition, as it happens. Who said dyslexics can’t be successful authors?

A life less ordinary

child-writingA couple of weeks ago, the BBC launched this year’s 500 Words competition. 500 Words is a writing competition for children between 5 and 13 years old. Each entrant submits one story of up to 500 words. The three winners in each age category win either their own height in books, the Duchess of Cornwall’s height in books (5’6”), or DJ Chris Evans’ height in books (6’2”).

Entries are judged on

  • originality
  • plot
  • characterisation
  • language

Crucially, entries are not judged on spelling, punctuation or grammar. In fact, the official rules say that entries are judged “without regard” for these potential stumbling blocks for young dyslexic writers.

Entries are also submitted by copying or typing into an online text box. A helpful adult is supposed to do this bit, and to fill out the rest of the online entry form for the child. That removes another potential barrier for children with…

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Three little-known signs of dyslexia

2 Feb

Here’s my latest piece for the Dyslexia Scotland blog, about the signs of dyslexia you might not be aware of.

A life less ordinary


When I was in primary school, my new teacher asked everyone in the class to tell him something they thought he should know about them. I remember that I wrote something along the lines of, “If I’m staring into space, don’t stop me – I’m thinking up stories or imagining.” That’s not very surprising for someone who went on to be an author, but I didn’t realise at the time that it was probably a sign of dyslexia, too. I wasn’t identified for many years after that, but a tendency to daydream or ‘zone out’ is more common for dyslexics. Often, we don’t even realise we’re doing it, and can completely lose track of time!

There are other things that can be signs of dyslexia that people wouldn’t normally think of. Most people know that dyslexia affects reading and writing, but there are signs that have nothing to do with…

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The Trials of Dyslexia

23 Aug

An hour or so ago I was idly considering whether, if there were a cure for dyslexia, I would take it. I’ve blogged about the joys of dyslexia before, but there are drawbacks, of course. In fact, it’s mainly a drawback, otherwise it wouldn’t be termed a specific learning disability (or whatever they’re calling it this week). This was brought home to me once again, very soon after my ponderings. I am currently supposed to be at an AGM but I forgot to leave something my husband needed before I departed, forgot my phone so I couldn’t even tell him, and so had to come home and miss my train. No AGM.

Forgetfulness isn’t exclusive to dyslexia, of course, and I don’t have conclusive proof that it’s even connected to my dyslexia, but I’m pretty sure it is. Dyslexia is a range of problems arising from faulty brain wiring (a rough description), mostly to do with reading and writing, hence the name dys – with difficulty, faulty; lexis – speech. These specific problems are usually associated with other ones, though, like clumsiness, forgetfulness and even difficulty following the plots of films (I kid you not). I have no difficulty with film plots, but I am forgetful, and my clumsiness drives me up (and very often into) the wall.

So why isn’t it an easy decision to choose a hypothetical cure for dyslexia? No more smashed glasses and chipped dishes, no more missed appointments. With a working sense of spatial awareness I might even be able to dance enthusiastically without the risk of knocking out anyone who came too close! If there were a cure for my lung diseases (two for the price of one) I would snap it up. If hayfever could be permanently cured I would take the injection or have the operation. There is a cure for short-sightedness, and I’ve had it: Thank you, Ultralase, I can now see. So why not dyslexia?

The thing is that dyslexia feels much more a part of me than any of these other conditions. Take away the sniffliness or the need to use an inhaler and I would be exactly the same person. My eyesight was bat-like, now it’s eagle-like, but it doesn’t affect who I am. If you changed the functioning of my brain, though, would that still be true? Who knows how many of the traits I think of as my own are in some way connected to being dyslexic? How much of who I am has been shaped by struggling with this range of problems, and how much of me would change if I didn’t have to struggle? If there were a way to try out a non-dyslexic life without committing to it, maybe that would be an option. But would the non-dyslexic me who made the final choice really be me, or would she make a different decision because she thought differently once she was eulexic? (No, that’s not a real word.)

Ok, this is getting excessively philosophical and could go on forever, but you see my point: It’s not a decision to take lightly. For the moment it’s purely theoretical and I can just sit on the fence, but if it ever became a real possibility, what would I choose? I honestly don’t know.

The Joys of Dyslexia

19 Jul

Tom Pellerau, who astonishingly won The Apprentice despite being a nice chap, was talking on “You’re Hired” about how his dyslexia had been a boon to him, allowing him to turn around inventions in his mind, a thing that other people don’t seem to be able to do.  I can’t do that either, since dyslexia is a very flexible disability which varies from person to person.  However my own dyslexia does provide some benefits – chiefly, the amusement I get from hastily glimpsed signs.

The dyslexic brain often grabs at the shape of words rather than reading all the letters, which means (out of context) I have the ability to misread things more dramatically than the average person.  Here’s a selection of my favourites:

Eat your peas = Eat your pets

Trinny and Susannah = Tyranny and Susannah

Gordon Street = Gorilla Street

Providing life-changing services to people with sight loss = providing for the vices of people with sight loss

What’s on this month = What’s on the moon

Ignite your imagination = ignore your neighbours

Recycle your batteries here = recycle your enemies here

Krushems = blaspheme

coffee shop = chlorine

Experience the wisdom of the OT in a new way = Experience the wisdom of the OT in a new wax

The Bible played a central role in Calvin’s life and work = The BBC played a central role in Calvin’s life and work

The premium computing organisation = The power of composting organisation

cafe and picnic area = cafe and piñata area

2 for 1 dining = 2 for 1 dripping

tapers in Universal Credit = tapas in Universal Credit

serviced offices = sacred offices

catalogue specials =  cast a spell on us

celebrating fine coffee = celebs rating fine coffee

reduce arrears = reduce Andy to tears

Special Promotional Rates = Suicide Promotional Fares

Who will you back? = Who will you kill back?

Salsa and Salsacise classes = Salary and Sausage classes

Touch Blue Telecom = Touch the Blue Pelican

Fasten your seatbelt = Fasten your breakfast

Recruiting mechanics now = Recruiting maniacs now

FedEx = feck it

Putting customers at the heart of everything we do = Putting cushions at the heart of everything we do

A&FNY = Agent Firefly

Internal management plans = Infernal management plans

Baggage reclaim = try to remain calm [particularly apt, I think]

The cosy poncho = The cosy psycho

Bifocal contact lenses = Biblical contact lenses

Professionally formulated with argan oil = Presumably formulated with argan oil

liposuction = lapsang souchong

Welding engineers = wedding emergencies

Sit-in restaurant meals = sit in respectable schools

14 days of unmissable tennis = 14 days of unspeakable tenor

Kirsty and Phil’s Love It or List It = Kirsty and Phil’s Love Child

We’ll buy your car = We’ll eat your car

My year in review – 2020

31 Dec

It seems redundant to say that this year has not been what I expected. Unless you’ve been living in an isolated Amazon tribe (in which case I’d love to know how you’re reading this) you already know that 2020 was the year that said ‘no’. If you want to read about my experiences of the first lockdown, click the link. This winter lockdown feels much less new and exciting and much more of a dull, dark slog. However, life goes on regardless, so I will give you a quick review of my year as a whole.

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Not just your basic, average, everyday, ordinary, run-of-the-mill, ho-hum dyslexic

5 Aug

And if you didn’t get the film reference in the title, shame on you.

A few weeks back I was interviewed by Darius Namdaran, director of the BulletMap Academy, for his Dyslexia Explored podcast. He got in touch because he had come across one of my posts on this website about the joys of dyslexia (yes, there are some).

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What I learned at DyslexiFest

12 Oct

This was supposed supposed to be a proper reblog, where the original post appears below, and you can read the first part of it right here, but I’m currently away from my laptop and it turns out not to be so easy on a phone. I’m doing my best, OK?

Anyway, the point of this pseudo-reblog is that I’ve just written a wee piece for Dyslexia Scotland’s blog, A Life Less Ordinary, about four things I learnt at DyslexiFest.

DyslexiFest (which I find ironically hard to spell) was a “celebration of all things dyslexic” that was held in Glasgow last weekend. Don’t think there’s anything to celebrate about dyslexia? Read my previous posts on the subject (here and here) or just have a read of the Dyslexia Scotland blog.

Anyway, you can read about it the event here: #DyslexiFest

Meanwhile, I will think fondly of my laptop sitting obediently on my desk. But with a smartphone (and, importantly, a charger) in my bag, I’m sure I will find plenty of ways to amuse myself while pretending I’m working.

Why Everything You Know about Robin Hood Is Wrong

10 Sep

” Jam-packed with revealing facts… written in a succinct and engaging style.” World Wide Robin Hood Society


What if I told you…

  • Robin Hood never met Maid Marian?
  • He was no more a member of the nobility than I am?
  • He never went on Crusade?
  • And he absolutely did not steal from the rich to give to the poor?

Join me on an illuminating, informative and really quite sarcastic trawl through what we actually know about one of England’s most famous legends.

Meet Eustace, monk-turned-pirate; Hereward, landowner-turned-bandit; Fulk, noble-turned-outlaw; and discover why none of them was the ‘real’ Robin Hood.

Find out how Marian came over from France, and how she was, ahem, intimately connected to Friar Tuck.

And learn more than you ever wanted to know about medieval hoods.

ISBN: 978-1-9164909-0-1
RRP: £4.99
Pages: 90
Released: 22 November 2018

WEYKARHIW is available now at, Amazon and Kobo. It’s probably available to order from your local bookshop or library, too – why not ask them?

The paperback is printed in dyslexia-friendly font (Segoe UI Historic 12-point, in fact). The ebook is in this font, too, but it will vary depending on your settings.

Cutting-Edge Technology from 3500BC

22 Sep

A guest post for the Dyslexia Scotland blog – featuring ancient history, natch 😉

A life less ordinary

papyrus_featherYou probably don’t remember learning to speak. It happens too early. Most of us are chattering away before we’re out of nappies. But you may have painful memories of learning to read: the anxiety of spelling tests, word lists, and red pen.

That’s because speaking comes naturally to us, and reading doesn’t. Human beings have always talked. Our brains seem to be ‘hard-wired’ to pick up language. Put a normal baby in an environment where people talk to it, and within a couple of years it will have started to speak itself.

But put a normal person in an environment where there’s writing, and they’re unlikely to learn to read without being taught. That’s one reason why we spend such a large part of our childhood in school. Reading and writing isn’t usually something you just pick up.

Writing first developed in Mesopotamia in the fourth millennium BC. It started…

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The Power of Purple

14 Jul

If you’re dyslexic, you’re close to a dyslexic, or you’re just the curious type, you may want to read my latest blog post for Dyslexia Scotland. Its working title was “Methods of alleviating the symptoms of dyslexia”, but fortunately I came up with something slightly snappier 😉