Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Natalie Lamb and the Dyslexia- Filled PhD

I remember a certain teacher at college when I was 17, who raised her eyebrows with a reaaally when I stated that I wanted to do biology at university. She went on to explain that she was just surprised that someone who was dyslexic, like me, wanted to try and tackle a subject that was full of difficult words, both in English and in Latin. She seemed like a nice woman, who would not have intentionally said these things to knock my confidence. At the time I thought I ignored her comments, like water off a ducks back, but the fact that I remember them all these years later, suggests the opposite.

Now I have started my PhD, I have done a little study into my spelling and how dyslexia affects me on a day to day basis, compared with someone who does not have it. I know that someone who has the learning difficulty can do a BSc in Biology and can do an MSc in Microbiology and can do (or at least begin!) a PhD into Civil Engineering and Microbiology but is it an ongoing struggle or do I just face the same difficulties as everyone else?


The Experiment
Over the course of a day, one dyslexic person and one non-dyslexic person recorded how many words they wrote in any format. They also recorded how many were correctly spelt, incorrectly spelt, auto corrected and manually corrected. The experiment was going to last one week but it was very tedious in practice!

It seemed that when an error had been made, the person with dyslexia was less likely to have had their error automatically corrected or manually corrected. This resulted in them actually writing the error and potentially sending that message with a mistake. The person without dyslexia tended to manually correct their writing much more than the person with.
Graph 1 and 2: A Comparison of Types of Errors 


 On the whole, there were few differences between the two people when it came to spelling accuracy. Both people correctly spelt the majority of words written. Although the person with dyslexia wrote a decreased percentage of correct words, it was only a difference of 1.89%.
Graph 3 and 4: A Comparison of Types of Spelling Accuracy


Interestingly, the person with dyslexia wrote words more accurately than the other when the calendar was the method of communication. But otherwise, the values were all very similar.
Graph 5: A Comparison of Communication Method and Accuracy















Just for interest, the inaccurately spelt words from the dyslexic included: Lincolnshire, WhatsApp, Natalie, miss, Sheffield and dyslexia. The non dyslexic errors included: who's, beautiful, didn't, ascending, aren't, symmetry, attached, generate, anxious, pepperoni, to and its. A mixture of complex and simple words for both.


Conclusion
During this very short and small study, I was able to see a very small difference in the accuracy of spelling between the dyslexic and the non dyslexic person. I know different people are affected in completely different ways by it, but the observable difference in my experiment was very small and would likely be unnoticeable in practice.

So am I, as a dyslexic person, having terrible difficulties doing the PhD? No I am not. Dyslexia is something you have your entire life. I develop strategies to cope and I know I can get help through Student Finance and my university when I need it. Good luck!



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