AHEAD of Dyslexia Awareness Week (October 1-7), a student from Chepstow has told the Argus about her experiences growing up with dyslexia and her hopes for other young people who have the condition.

Evie Bruton, aged 20, is one of more than six million people in the UK who have dyslexia.

She said it was important for people to talk about “hidden” learning difficulties like dyslexia, which from her own experience can be ignored or trivialised by others, including teachers, leading to embarrassment for some people.

After being diagnosed at the age of five, Ms Bruton said she didn’t know why she was being treated differently from other children.

“My mum would get me to read special dyslexia books. I hated it at the time but I’m so grateful now", she said.

Ms Bruton said her schools weren't always able to offer enough support.

“Schools are overstretched, they don’t have time to deal with dyslexic children, but I can’t knock them”, she said.

Part of the problem, she believes, is what she called the “hidden” nature of the condition.

“When people hear someone has dyslexia, they think that person isn’t smart.

“I had some teachers who weren’t aware of my dyslexia and just thought I wasn’t very good at spelling."

To help her with homework, Ms Bruton's parents often did the writing, copying down the answers their daughter told them orally.

Exams were a particularly stressful time.

“In an exam, writing with a pen, I would look down at all the scribbles and just think ‘I’ve failed this’”, she said.

“Obviously, everyone is different but, for me, knowing I can change my work really helps.

"Now I usually write with a pencil because it calms me down.”

Ms Bruton is currently studying history at university, and has been the grateful recipient of specialist computer software provided by the Welsh government.

"It means I can record lectures and it also recognises my voice and can write what I’m saying – it’s what my parents did but a lot fancier", she said.

She believes more young people could benefit from having similar equipment in school.

“It’s helped level the playing field”, she said. “If I’d had the software in school, I think I would have got different grades – I wouldn’t have had to spend 10 minutes on one word.”

After university, Ms Bruton has dreams of becoming a teacher, and hopes to use her personal experiences to help other young people with dyslexia.

"I can turn [being dyslexic] into a positive", she said.

"I could market myself as someone with special needs training, which I hope to do, and also as someone who understands how others with dyslexia think."

To those people , Ms Bruton said: “It’s ok to struggle, everybody’s different.

“School is structured in a rigid form but you need to find a way that works for you.

“For parents, if you see your child struggling, go and get them tested.”