My view: ‘People with dyslexia are just as smart as anyone else’

Islington student Layla Sbila has learned to manage dyslexia during her studies. 

Islington student Layla Sbila has learned to manage dyslexia during her studies. - Credit: City and Islington College

According to the British Dyslexia Association, dyslexia affects 10 per cent of people in the UK. Healthcare student Layla Sbila shares how City and Islington College has helped her with the condition during her studies.

When I was five, I moved to Dubai with my family having been diagnosed with dyslexia two years earlier. It’s a neurological condition that affects my reading, writing and spelling, which I will have to live with all my life.

I find it hard to read properly and tend to mix up words and stutter when I read long sentences or paragraphs. I often blank out words or skip one or two sentences without realising it. Sometimes I see different letters or a different word, for example I will see and read important as informed. It’s the same for maths, the numbers jumble around and it’s hard for me to understand.

When I first went to school in Dubai the teachers tried to help. Sometimes I would be asked to read in class, but I couldn’t do it. I would just sit there, my mind blank and unable to speak. I felt like I couldn’t do anything. In my mid-teens I changed school, but it was even worse. I didn’t get any support. They thought my dyslexia was a disease and I was lazy, and I left with no qualifications. School had held me back, but not to the point where I was going to give up on myself. If nobody was going to give me help, I knew I would have to fight for it.

I returned to the UK when I was 16 to live with my grandparents in Haringey and applied to study Health and Social Care at City and Islington College (CANDI). I began at Level 1 and I’m now studying at Level 3. Last year I also took GCSE English and passed with a grade 4. At CANDI the teachers break things down, explain things multiple times and double-check to make sure you understand. It makes me quite emotional when I see how far I’ve come because of the support I’ve had at CANDI.

It’s often wrongly assumed that dyslexic people are not very bright and use it as an excuse because they don’t want to read or learn things. That needs to change. If you know someone with dyslexia make sure they clearly understand the job or task they’re being asked to do. Above all, be patient and kind, and recognise them as individuals and their needs are different. People with dyslexia are just as smart as anyone else. If you’ve got the right support, you can do anything in life.