Living without Stigma – A Woman’s Fight to Gain Equality and Inclusion as a Neuro Diverse Person

Sam Rapp appears with writer Lemn Sissay OBE (2nd left) at a Medway Dyslexia Event.

By Sam Rapp

I never knew I was dyslexic. I didn’t even know what the word meant let alone, how to spell it as I was growing up. It means difficult in Greek. It is a condition that affects reading, writing, spelling. It is also life long, with no cure and about 1 in 10 of the population are dyslexic.

I was about 7 years old and noted I became increasingly frustrated as I seemed to struggle with writing, spelling and reading when my friends didn’t seem to.  I was always at the Headmasters office. My sister was too and although she has not been formally assessed like I have for dyslexia, she has the same the traits.

In fact it was not until my mother died, that I found a scrap of paper that simply said, “I think Sammy is dyslexic.”

It was a real eye opener for me, as I had no idea about what Dyslexia was, only that I could be dyslexic?  Could I be cured? How would I get treated? All these things were going through my mind.

My sister and I are twins and both of us had terrible writing. We  would prefer to look at pictures rather than read texts. I loved doing this so that I could write a story, as I have always been a keen story-teller.  It was a way of escaping into my own world.  I could read but at a slower pace than others.

Dyslexia only became a problem when aged 12 at secondary school, we were noticeably treated differently to some of the other students.

We were both placed in lower achieving classes and told that we could not enter any exams as we wouldn’t pass them!  I left school at 15 with no qualifications, spent a period being homeless at 18 and after a bad experience in a job interview, when I was told I would not amount too much, had the thought. “Was that it for me?”

I met a man by chance, a Professor of Law who he mentored me. He gave value to my life. I passed exams, as did my sister. We just needed to be taught at a pace that was not rushed.

With dyslexia, you need quiet space and thinking time, as dyslexia affects working memory.   I still spell out my words  just like I did when I was a child, as it helps me to write.  I count on my fingers, although now I have Dragon software which reads texts back to me and can check spelling.

Both myself and sister passed GCSE’s and A- Level’s. We both studied at university, gaining degrees.  I obtained 2:1 Law degree with Honours. I am now a Bachelor of Law graduate!

My sister works in the medical profession.  I also became a  writer and have won awards for my writing.

I was diagnosed as an adult with Dyspraxia.

Dyspraxia affects motor functions. I am fun in a dance class as I always go the wrong way to the rest of the group, which I find hilarious much to the annoyance of the teacher.

I also have dyscalculia. This affects my maths ability. So I have all three and I laugh at it now. Through my school and professional life, I struggled with discrimination which was hard at the time to have to go through. I felt stigmatised and I did not want to be treated differently. For years I did not tell anyone about my dyslexia

However, with the onset of the Equality Act 2010, which allows for reasonable adjustments in the work place, disability/neuro-diversity, is becoming a platform for change and being taken seriously. So people who are neuro-diverse, whether they have a physical impairment or hidden impairment are here to stay. We are employed in all kinds of professions and live the lives we are entitled to lead.

I am proud to be neuro-diverse and different. I perform around the UK as Sam Rapp the Dyslexic poet, highlighting all things diverse.

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Being dyslexic, this is who I am

I am proud to be

Because we can all achieve  and do what we want to do

So go out there and live your dreams

Because you can do it

I did

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Sam Rapp

The Dyslexic poet

Fun with words productions

Creative writing for all abilities

Making writing fun

You can find out details about performances and workshops on her face book page Sam Rapp The Dyslexic poet

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