Dyslexia Awareness Week

This first week of October is Dyslexia Awareness Week. Dyslexia affects around 10% of the population, and mainly influences the way that people process, store and retrieve information.

The theme this year is ’21st Century Dyslexia’, focusing on technology that can assist people in the workplace, at school and at home.

Find out more at the British Dyslexia Association website

Download a resources pack for Dyslexia Awareness Week

Supporting members with dyslexia

UNISON learning reps, branch officers, and other activists can find out about dyslexia, and how they can support members who have the condition, by completing our e-note.

Visit the e-learning site to find the Dyslexia Awareness e-note

Or you can order copies of our publications Dyslexia in Our Own Words and Top Tips for a Dyslexia-Friendly Learning Environment by emailing us at LearningAndOrganising@unison.co.uk, quoting reference numbers ACT185 and ACT246 respectively.

Some people find that coloured overlays and coloured paper make it easier for them to read printed text. These are available from Crossbow Education and UNISON members and branches can claim a 10% discount by quoting ‘UNISON18’.

I’m Just A Boy

UNISON member James Keenan entered our 25th anniversary writing competition with this poem, which talks about his experience as a writer with dyslexia.

While it wasn’t shortlisted, the judges liked the power and conviction behind it, and we’re delighted to report that James has since had two poems published in the Down News. One of those, The Untold Heroes, celebrates the staff of the NHS in its 70th anniversary year, and has been printed and framed and given to Ards & North Down Borough council as a gift to commemorate the conferring of the Freedom of the Borough on all healthcare staff, to mark the 70th anniversary of the NHS. It will always hang in Bangor Castle and the Ulster Hospital.

I’m just a boy, who dreams to write,

writing stories about my life under my bedside table light.

This is my dream; I want it as my future,

but, there is something holding me back, making me the loser.

I don’t want to hire a writer,

someone who could be addicted to using chat forums and socialising over twitter.

I’ve been stuck in these daydreams,

I’ve been stuck this ways for years and before my teens.

People bullied and tried to tear me down,

making me out to be the class clown.

I feel as if I’m a spineless boy so pathetic,

I haven’t got a clue, but I do try, but I’m not fantastic.

My life is always the post of something else, but that depends on how I present myself.

I’d pass five star schools with my head down wishing through the shame,

with all the things I wanted to learn all my life, I’ve suffered in vein.

I want to work hard; I don’t want subjects to find me,

I want to top into my own feelings, I want to write subjects that are meant to be.

I want to celebrate the ordinary, I need to let my mind become open minded to interpretation,

I’ll not be William Shakespeare or Roald Dahl; I’ll not be big or extraordinary,

I just want to be me without the frustration.

Come with my struggles, the bullies and the expectant,

my learning and education was so clearly affected.

Confused I’d ask for help, to be told to look up the dictionary,

I didn’t know how to, with words I couldn’t spell, education soon became scary.

With my diagnosis went unnoticed,

My dreams of becoming a writer soon became less of a focus.

God I want to dream big again, take me to a place I’ve never been,

I want to go there, this time not scared and wanting to be seen.

I will learn to love the skies I’m under,

I’ll not be that person that people walk over.

The struggles I faced, the chances I’m now taking,

those who will try and knock me down, but this time, I’ll not be breaking.

I’ll accept my limits, aim big and maybe slow,

I can change, but until I try, I’ll never really know.

I’ll keep fighting and come out from the darkness into the light,

I’ll never give in, I’ll never give up, and it’s not over yet when I can see my whole future in sight.

I’ll not give up; I’m out to be heard,

If silence continues, I’ll not let it break me, winning doesn’t mean coming first, second or third.

I’ve got a disability, one that affects my grammar and writing skills,

However clear or unclear, it doesn’t affect my mobility.

I don’t want to succeed to be famously known,

I want to do it for the right reason, to show my dreams and goals and how much I’ve grown.

I needed charisma and the education,

I didn’t need the worries of my frustration.

It’s small, yet powerful; I’m not psychotic,

I’m just a boy who is dyslexic.

I’m not normal but who is?

I’m certainly not perfect; does it even exist?

I was once told by an inspiration of mine, a quote that keeps me strong through the good and the rough,

“I may not be normal or perfect, however

I’m just a boy who is good enough”

James says,

I share with you ‘I’m just a boy’, a poem that is written from the heart with pure emotion and honesty. I hope you will be able to follow the story of me who struggled through bullying at school for being that little bit slower than others and required special needs. My dyslexia diagnosis went unnoticed and my dreams of becoming a writer were demolished. Now 28 years old, my dreams are still giving me a purpose to live to succeed, I believe in myself and believe that one day I will become a writer, however I’ll not be like those big and famous, but I’ll just be me and I’ll be good enough.