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Coming out as Disabled: Ebbi Furguson

Wednesday 03-12-2014 - 16:31

Disability should not be seen as negative. It’s part of my identity; it’s who I am.

This is a guest article by Ebbi Furguson – Deputy President of NUS Wales.

The other day I put out my first blog. It took me more than a few hours to write and considering it was only a little over than 500 words, you may find that surprising. But for me, that’s normal. 

Up to the age of 16 I was homeschooled along with my 7 siblings; we had a school and a rugby 7’s team all in one. I didn’t realise until I started college at 16, that I was dyslexic. I knew that my some of my siblings were but I never thought I was. I just thought of myself as a creative speller and perceived maths as a mild form of torture. It wasn’t until my second year of college, in a screening test that I was called to learning support to complete a further assessment where I was told that I was disabled. I had both mild dyslexia and dyscalculia. Trust me to have two disabilities that are the hardest to spell. Shout out for spell-check!

Dyscalculia refers to a wide range of learning disabilities involving math. Dyslexia is the most common learning difficulty and most recognized as a reading and writing disorder. So for me, I could never work out where all the double lls went and why so many words had extra e’s. My short-term memory was and still is appalling; names never stick in my head. I have to be told the same piece of information several times before I can digest it. And don’t even get me started with mathematics! Lets just say that me and numbers don’t see eye to eye.

Having learning difficulties and studying a vocational course was difficult. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my three years in college but the stigma attached to vocational courses was down grading and being disabled on top seemed to complete the picture.  So I kept my disability to myself.

It wasn’t until my third year in college when I took GCSE maths as a night class did I admit to the lecturer that I had dyscalculia. She smiled at me and said, “Well that makes two of us.”

I left college with a DD** and five offers to universities to study events management. Filling out forms I now tick the disabled box with confidence and try to remember how to spell dyslexia and dyscalculia. When I’m that group member with the smelly pen and flip chart paper, I have no qualms about asking for spelling advice.

Disability should not be seen as negative. It’s part of my identity; it’s who I am. On our birthdays we celebrate the day we were born; you celebrate you. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m having a celebration of who I am. Might even get some cake. You should do the same. Celebrate who you are.

As Dr Seuss says,“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

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