Dyslexia support ‘a unique service’

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Learning Differences Aotearoa Trust adviser Chris Cole is raising awareness around adult dyslexia.

FOR people living with adult dyslexia, finding the courage to make that first call for support is the hardest step.

Once they had done it, the most common reaction was “people understand me”.

Learning Difference Aotearoa Trust adviser Chris Cole had worked with Southland adults with dyslexia for about five years.

According to the trust, one in 10 people were dyslexic.

In Southland, this equated to about 10,000 people or 63 classrooms of children aged 5-18.

Because there was no national association for adult dyslexia, the trust was a “unique” service in New Zealand in the way it provided feedback for other organisations working with people with learning difficulties, she said.

The decision to step into the support sphere came from her own journey with dyslexia, which she only discovered when her children were working with Dyslexia Support Southland.

“It took me five years before I discovered I was (dyslexic) too.

“The emotional impact is what becomes the bigger kicker.”

While the misconception was people with dyslexia could not read or write, she personally struggled with getting ideas down on paper a testament to the fact dyslexia was a “broad spectrum”.

“It can take years for people to realise they have it.

“I’ve had some people say to me they were depressed until the found out they had dyslexia.

“The link between mental health and dyslexia often gets missed.”

Feelings of anxiety, low self-esteem, shame and isolation went hand-in-hand when it came to living with a learning difficulty, she said.

When people knew how their brain functioned, it could alleviate a lot of the shame and offer a sense of relief.

It also helped people to recognise their strengths and use their creativity to bring people together for a “common purpose”, she said.

The trust ran a handful of programmes, including a parent support group, Dyslexic Support Southland, Growing Stars for children, an adult support group and provided professional development for schools and organisations.

“Support groups help people feel like they’re normal and they aren’t being judged.

“We offer non-biased and non-judgemental support.”

It also hosted monthly meetings with guest speakers and engaged with the community to provide workshops and initiatives.

  • For more information, phone Chris Cole on 027 201 6951.
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