Dyslexia, Strength or Weakness

Dyslexia, Strength or Weakness

The irony of the heading of this blog post is that I had to check how to spell dyslexia and every time I write that word, I will have to look back at the heading and make sure it is correct. I will also have two different people proofread this before I publish it. But I don’t let it stop me, I love to write about my experiences and challenges with everything in life, and being dyslexic is no different. 

I am just here to tell my story and my experiences with it.

Growing Up 

Dyslexia affects 9-12% of the population and in my family, it is 100% of us. There are 4 members in my family and all of us have some form of dyslexia. 

I wasn’t officially diagnosed until I was 16 years old. When I was younger I could read and write better than my older brother, so of course my parents didn’t instantly think I was struggling, even though I did have my own language and didn’t speak properly until after having speech therapy when I was 3 years old. I will forgive them for that because who would have thought?

Growing up in a household full of dyslexic people brought some serious laughs, which usually involved primary school homework and an Oxford English dictionary. There was no quick google for spell check so the dictionary was a staple of our household. It became even funnier when none of us knew the first 2 letters of the word we were trying to spell, but we always adapted and overcame and made it work. From this, you can probably conclude that Scabble was not a game played at Christmas with our family. 

Even though I wasn't diagnosed at the time and didn’t understand what dyslexia was, I grew up knowing that you didn't have to be achieving excellence at traditional schooling to do well in life. I was and still am surrounded by successful individuals who weren’t straight-A students but who were exceptional problem solvers, imaginative thinkers, and the most charismatic people. I saw it as a superpower more than a label. 


In Primary School I was always a happy middle-level student, not too high achieving but not failing. When Secondary School rolled around it was a different story. More subjects, more tests, more teachers, and what I would go on to learn was my Achilles heel, languages. 

Secondary School was the first time in my life I felt stupid. I looked at the whiteboards and my brain could not compute what was going on. I would stare at the first line for as long as possible trying to make sense of it until inevitably it would be wiped off and replaced with something the whole class has already moved on to. It didn’t happen in every class but I remember French and Irish and Shakperean English being the worst of all. I still haven’t a clue what happened in Romeo and Juliet, I hear it wasn’t that interesting anyway. All my peers moved on and I got left behind because my brain could not comprehend. As the weeks rolled on, the whiteboards might as well have been written in Chinese Symbols and the class would have moved on when I was still stuck understanding day one’s lesson. I kept my head low in the classes that made no sense and tried my best to excel in the ones I understood. Sports was really where I found my freedom, all I wanted to do was to get outside and away from the never-ending whiteboard.

It wasn't until a semi-chance encounter that an old tutor I went to for grinds, passed on a mock English paper I had written to a friend of hers who graded papers & that everything changed. 

The feedback was “This is well written but I hope to god Rebecca was a spelling and grammar waiver or we are in trouble”

It was only then that people started to notice! All the time I spoke out that I was struggling was finally heard with a solution and not just “Why don't you understand, can you try harder?” 

It was 3 months before the Junior Cert so nothing could be done. “Just do your best and we will address the problem in the summer” 

In the summer of 2010 I was tested for Dyslexia, this is when I learned that there is more than one form of Dyslexia, even though my reading and writing were ok, my understanding of phonetics and the sounding of basic languages just didn't exist in my brain. 

I finally understood why people kept saying, “you're not Dyslexic, you're not like your brother,” because I wasn't, we have different forms of the same thing.

Coming back to school it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, it became enjoyable again. I was able to drop Irish and French, I was in ordinary English and I got some one-on-one support & help. I have some great memories from English class. We had 8 people in the class, 5 students that English wasn’t their first language and 3 dyslexic students, oh the fun we all had trying to read Macbeth.


When I started work the support and comfort of school were ripped right from under me. There was no extra support, no extra time, or someone to help me read the questions that were being asked of me. I will never forget my boss asking me without knowing 

“Can you not spell or are you just an idiot” 

“Nah just dyslexic,” I said.

The look on his face still makes me laugh, it wasn’t his fault, he didn’t know. I never took it too personally when people made assumptions like that, I knew by this stage I wasn’t stupid, I just thought a little differently from other people. What I did learn starting in new jobs was sometimes you just have to sit down and explain it. People are usually understanding, and even pay for the premium Grammarly for you, so you don’t accidentally write something you shouldn’t. People and managers can be understanding about it, but it is also up to you to find coping strategies when your brain can’t compute. 

I worked in Marketing and Events for a lot of my career before Outwest, it was practical, creative, and involved very little written reporting or mountains of paperwork, all bonuses for me. Yet like all jobs, there were meetings, monthly reporting, and emails to be done daily. Over the years I found some coping strategies. There was no point just sitting back and saying “I can’t”. 

These are some I found helped.  

  • Don’t be afraid to ask someone to proofread something for you, there is no shame in that. 
  • Get Grammarly on your work laptop and your phone, it is a game changer!  
  • If possible in a meeting, bring a notepad with headings such as Important, End of Day, and End of Week, then as the meeting goes on quickly jot down items under those heading. One word and don’t worry about the spelling of it. After a meeting, sometimes your brain goes into overdrive trying to recall everything and the notepad method helps me. It allows me to listen and be present as well, not leaving the meeting like I was never there.


Starting your own business and dealing with dyslexia comes with its challenges but also its advantages. 

The challenge is now trying to understand all the complicated jargon that comes with running your own business and the scary part, legal contracts, the Revenue, and just the overwhelming written workload. My advice here is to ask for help, ask people to read stuff for you and get people on your team who are specialised in the specific field that you can’t do.

But the scary part is massively outweighed by the freedom and creativity that comes with owning your own business. You can problem-solve in a way that suits you and your needs. You can voice notes instead of email. You can set deadlines that are achievable to you. You can see dyslexia as your strength and not a hindrance. 

Outwest is all about taking a moment, a memory, a colour, and turning it into a full collection. I don’t know if it is something everyone can do, but it is something I can do. Be it because of my dyslexic thinking or not, it is something that I love and helps me to tell my brand story just the way I want it to be told.

Dyslexia has both excelled and hindered me in different ways, but I believe without the support I was given by everyone around me and the way my brain thinks differently I would have never started Outwest. 

Being told you are stupid to one day running your own company feels pretty good to me!

What are you looking for?

Your cart