The story of Will Carter, reported recently, is a powerful illustration of what can happen when dyslexia is not diagnosed sufficiently early and of the transformative effects not just of a correct diagnosis but also the right support.At primary school Will was unable to read. He was in the bottom class in all subjects. Teachers seem to have assumed that he was lazy or stupid or both and it was suggested that he would end up as a criminal. His description of his difficulties explains how many children feel: “You look down at your page and think this doesn’t make any sense. You see one word then it starts to blur and you hear the laughter”.
At the end of primary school he was diagnosed with severe dyslexia and dyspraxia, but it was not until he was 13 that he got the help he needed, by insisting that the school provided a teaching assistant and a laptop.He still struggles to read a menu or fill in a form but, from that moment onward, he moved out of the lowest sets and started to get A stars. He emphasises the importance of individual teaching assistants while at secondary school and then of speech recognition software, translating the written page to the spoken word.
He was accepted by Bristol University and obtained a first class degree in Politics and a International Relations. He is now a Fulbright Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is studying for a PHD.Will’s story shows a system not working as it should, but also just how much can be done to help young people with dyslexia and enable them to fulfil their potential.