World Dyslexia Awareness Week: ‘Autism and dyslexia don't stop me from doing anything I want to do’

When I was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of 23, it was both a relief and a shock. I had lived the last 13 years knowing that I was autistic after being diagnosed at the age of nine.Dyslexia wasn’t something that ever crossed my mind, writes Lucas Ross.

I went through primary school, high school and college without knowing and that is such a strange feeling to me.

Dyslexia and autism are similar, something I was told by my assessor. He believed that my autism hid my dyslexia because of how similar the two are to one another.

I have known I am dyslexic now for almost a year and I wanted to share my experience of being autistic and dyslexic with everyone during World Dyslexia Awareness Week.

My dyslexia affects my ability to read, it doesn’t mean that I cannot read but it does mean that I struggle. I struggle with reading black text on a white page; overlays don’t help very much, and I struggle reading slowly as well.

Words can swap about on the page and sentences can end up making no sense.

It also affects my speech as well and my ability to process text. It takes me longer to read things such as an email or message and it can take me longer to reply to them as well. I can usually type quite quickly, but I can be easily put off if someone speaks to me and can become frustrated.

You may think that audiobooks would be easier, but they aren’t. I find audiobooks difficult because I can be easily distracted by the slightest sound. Part of the autistic experience is being under or over sensitive to sounds, tastes, textures and light.

I have oversensitive hearing due to my autism. My ears will pick up the slightest noise and I can easily lose my place with an audiobook which then leads to me becoming upset and frustrated.

Being autistic, I also find it difficult to process, understand and communicate my emotions. For example, you as the reader might be reading this and have no problem communicating, understanding, or processing your emotions.

But I find it difficult to say when I am stressed or angry and this results in me going

around like a Bob-Bomb from Super Mario until I eventually explode. It is far from helpful for myself or those around me.

Being autistic and dyslexic isn’t easy, but it doesn’t stop me from doing anything that I want to do. I am a university student with the Open University and have just finished my first year of my Forensic Psychology degree.

Of course, this was after many meltdowns and books being ripped up. It got so bad that at one point my mum ended up reading my university texts to me – thanks mum!

She really is and has been a wonderful support for me.

My mum is such a huge part of my support network and if it wasn’t for her, I would have dropped out of university at the start of this year when I was struggling the most after finding out I was dyslexic.

Having a support network is one of the most important things for me. My support network includes my incredible mum, my amazing boyfriend who is also autistic and a couple of my closest friends who are just wonderful. Without the support network I have I wouldn’t be where I am today.

I face barriers every day and some I can overcome easily, others it takes a bit of work and that is okay.

Being dyslexic and autistic is part of who I am, and no one should be ashamed to be who they are.

Visit the National Autistic Society Scotland website here.

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