Sometimes I'm overloaded

1st October 2004 at 01:00
Josie van Es, 12, spent last year at the specialist dyslexia Unicorn school in Abingdon after seven years in mainstream primary school where she gained level 5 in maths and science and level 3 in English. She is now in Year 8 at Cherwell school, an 11-18 Oxford comprehensive.

"My mum and dad thought maybe I was dyslexic when I was about six because I was struggling at school. They took me to a special lady who gave me a test and told them I was severely dyslexic. It's been very tricky at school.

Teachers find it difficult because they have a big class and then there's me who needs a lot of attention sometimes.

At Unicorn, the classes are much smaller, about 10 children. You get one-on-one tutoring every day and they do special exercises to calm you down if you get really frustrated. I think I'm a nine-year-old in reading now and I was a seven-year-old.

What's helpful at school is having the seats looking straight at the board and being quite close to the teacher. Sometimes I find it really tricky to understand what the teacher's saying. I find it hard to remember everything at once so I take notes and put them in the back of my book and look back at them.

I definitely have to think a lot more than the other children. I can't get the sentences the way I want them and I can't think of other words. I worry if the spelling's wrong. I think about it for ages and get stuck.

People try to understand what it's like to have dyslexia but I don't think they always do. Teachers have read all about it but they don't know what it feels like. They say, 'Come on, Josie, you can do this'. But sometimes I'm overloaded and it's really hard."

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