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  • Writer's pictureMadeleine Lee

Dyslexia - seeing the world in another way with Madeleine Lee

Or My life of "Brian"

Schools has very different approach to Dyslexia in the 1970s.

Back then, a child with any Dyslexia difficulties was gravely misunderstood and we were seen as difficult, slow, lazy or troublesome children.

Dyslexia wasn't understood by schools or parents in the same way that it is today nor was it taken into account by the education system unless it was extremely advanced & obvious.

My school report always said: ‘could do better.’  But I tried, I really did.

I spent double the amount of time on my homework,  but no matter how hard I studied, a lot of factual information just wouldn’t stay in to my head.

Maths was a disaster; my dyslexic brain couldn’t grasp numbers. In Geography, the maps just danced around before my eyes. It  was the same with music - the notes on the page didn’t seem to stay in one place .

On top of that another problem with my dyslexia is that the only way I knew my left from my right was because I wore a ring on my left finger.

I loved writing, and I would like to say I excelled in English composition, but this was not the case. The teachers didn’t read the content; all they saw was my terrible spelling.

Funnily, the only lesson I loved was Religious Knowledge, and you know why? The teacher told us stories, reeling us in with colour and imagination. He planted images in my mind, and I never forgot a word he said.

And there is the secret. Some minds work better with images. It took me years to realise I had a form of Dyslexia.

Instead, I left school believing I was stupid. Years later I was shocked to read some of my stories from school. They were really good and imaginative, but they were hard to read due the severe red markings of the teacher’s pen. Sadly, as a child, that was all I had seen for all my hard work and no appreciation for my art and imagination.

Through my twenties and early thirties, I over-compensated in other areas until I began to feel comfortable within the creative realms. In fact, it was here I excelled. I joined a circus, eventually becoming a singer/songwriter.

I was surprised when I found out I could write, and soon, my confident soared. I loved writing, and with the boom of the 'spellcheck', my spelling no longer caused me a problem.

I still found it hard retain certain information, so everything I learnt was self- taught: singing, guitar, writing, creating. I had my own sense of rhythm, and it made my songs uniquely individual, although it did drive some of my band members crazy as they followed my eccentric timing.

 As I grew up, I realised that having Dyslexia also came with so many gifts. I could walk into a room and see, in my mind's eye, other ways it could be designed. I have images running through my head day and night, vivid and colourful, all of which I apply to my work as writer, stylist and interior designer.

I am still terrible at directions though. I don’t know my left from my right but that's ok. I could get lost in a matchbox!

Learning French meanwhile has been a huge challenge, as I have to have an image in my head next to every word or I will forget it. But I embrace the way I think now.

I wrote an article years ago about being a right ‘brian’ type of girl. I sent it to a friend to be edited. She rang me up exploding in laughter.

That just sums dyslexia up for me – I really am a right brain kind of girl, or 'brian', if spell check has failed me. In fact I'm proud of my right 'brian' and the different ways it makes me see the world.

I just wish I had embraced it earlier. So I say this to anyone who has some form of dyslexia out there.

Embrace how you think .. in whatever shape or form.

There are so many things you can do that the left 'brianers' would find impossible.

I'm illogical & I wouldn’t swap my mind for anything.

And as Albert Einstein said ..“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid."

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Ra Martin
Ra Martin
Nov 12, 2019

This is an extraordinary piece Madeleine. Even I didn't know how much you struggled in school and as a budding young writer and how you transcended and recognized all the other gifts you had, but still the haunting of that early sense of failure must have been crushing and still has residuals that you live with. Having lived with a dyslexic for so many years I watched his struggle first hand and the pain of seeing a brilliant mind cope with failure and triumph. To a great degree K's dyslexia did not bring out all the higher qualities that it has in you. The shame was too great for him, and the compensations unhealthy. Thank you for sharing this…


Madeleine Lee
Madeleine Lee
Nov 10, 2019

darling Dorry we muct be sisters for sure !!!!!!!!!!!!


Dorry Van Osch
Dorry Van Osch
Nov 08, 2019

You must be my twin sister! Hair, dress, style, house, health....what's next?

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