Last month’s Telford & Wrekin Wire networking group was both interesting and inspiring. Elizabeth Wilkinson, who promotes herself as The Dyslexic Dyslexia Consultant, told us about her journey to set up her business to help and support those with dyslexia.
Eli was very open about being both dyslexic and autistic and left school in 1988 with low grades, having worked very hard, but without the support she needed. 20 years later, with a dyslexic son who also lacked the right support, she founded her business.
Eli is very passionate about her work and works all over Shropshire, mainly with adults including employers, trainers and schools to support children and their parents to get the right information. Unfortunately, even today, whilst some schools are great at identifying and supporting dyslexics many others just insist that children need to ‘concentrate and try harder’.
It was interesting that around the room nearly everyone knew someone with dyslexia. Maisie, has a son (now at University will full assistance) who was never given the right support even at a private school. Annie, whose son is very creative but because of the lack of support 35 years ago is now living on the streets as he lacks self-confidence. And Clare, whose daughter is now studying nursing after dropping out of college 10 years ago after getting the help she needed, volunteering with Eli and improving her self-esteem.
All these mums (and WiRE members) spoke of the waste of years and the stress of fighting for some support from the education system and local authorities. Their personal struggles really made us think about how people are treated differently in our society.
One message that Eli wanted to stress was that it is never too late to get help and she uses a series of information days, volunteers and events to get her message across.
She has also created and launched the first ever Dyslexia Awards earlier this year to change perceptions and stop negative comments associated with being different. The awards also aim to celebrate the positive, talented dyslexics in the area and their champions, supporters, educators and carers.
Nominations for each of the 17 categories opened on March 1st, with the closing date being July 26th. The finalists will be announced on October 26th, and the official awards ceremony is being held at Enginuity on 26th November 2016.