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Kira Coley
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Freelance Science Writer & 
Science Communicator

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The Chatty Dyslexic
MY STORY

I was not diagnosed with dyslexia until I was twenty-one. It was then I finally decided to take the leap and try for a degree in Marine Biology. Before that, I was considered an average student who was forever being moved between class ability levels.

I was a hard worker that excelled during class projects or group work. But, it was the exams that informed the world how intelligent I was, and it was the exams that told the world I was not bright. 

By the time I was a young adult, I had hated academia. My experiences at school told me that my skills wouldn't see me thrive in careers which required 'academic thinking,' so I focused my attention on retail, restaurants and office work.

By the time I was twenty, I had been a restaurant supervisor, shop department manager,  and I just got a job as a consultant designing home insurance products at one of Europe's largest insurance companies. I was ambitious. But, no matter how well I did in those positions I was not fulfilled.

Since I was a child, I loved science. So, at twenty-one I used the confidence I found in my previous successes to start a foundation degree in science, which would hopefully lead me to my dream career as a Marine Biologist.

The first algebra lesson: that's when I found out I was dyslexic. The university paid for me to have a screening which resulted in a large document telling me how I would struggle to get a degree: reading age for a 6-year-old, poor memory, poor phonetics, and the rest.

I barely passed most exams at university but excelled in coursework. Of course, university degrees, like school, focused more on exam results. 

It's taken five years, but I am stubborn. I found new ways which suited my 'different way of thinking' to help me with exams: mind maps, colour overlays, revision notes that were colour coordinated. I discovered new computer tools and habits (lists, lists, lists!) which made everyday work easier. 

I did it. I've worked as a marine biologist in several places, including Madagascar and Italy.

Now, I am a freelance science writer and a regular contributor to industry magazines. I also lecture Biology and Science Communication at a university, give regular public talks about my experiences and offer science communication workshops.

Wait, what?! A dyslexic writer... go figure.
 
As a dyslexic writer, I've had to overcome my 'disability' to achieve my dreams.  Only recently have I realised that dyslexia doesn't have to be a handy-cap, but it can be embraced as a new way of thinking. Some of the greatest minds to have ever lived were dyslexic - their mind worked differently to the 'norm' which encouraged change and advancements in science and arts all over the world.

I want to help those with dyslexia into the world of academia, science, and writing. 

I'd love to collaborate with any companies or organisations who would like to help with this mission.

Also, if you have any stories related to your experiences or dyslexic journey please get in touch so I can create a storyboard feature on the site.



Credit: Auburn College http://www.auburnedu.org/dyslexia-support.html