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Holly Willoughby has revealed that she felt “constantly embarrassed” at school due to her dyslexia, before she met an “incredible” teacher who offered her support.
The Grammy award-winning singer became overcome with emotion after being reunited with her old English teacher, Ms McDonald, from her secondary school, Chestnut Grove in Balham, South London.
Reflecting on her own experience, Willoughby said: “My favourite teacher, who was incredible, was called Mrs Williamson.
“She was an English teacher and I did not get my dyslexia diagnosis until just before my GCSEs, which is late.
“So for a long time at school I hated reading out loud because I could not read very well, I would get mixed up and I was constantly embarrassed,” she admitted.
The 40-year-old recalled the patience her teacher showed to her.
“She always took me aside,” she continued. “She spent a lot of time with me and really took the time. Even in break times. She would never make me feel stupid. She was called Mrs Williamson.”
Holly has spoken openly about her struggles with dyslexia in the past, admitting that reading at school “terrified” her: “I was convinced everybody thought I was stupid,” she told Red magazine in 2020.
She added: “It still happens now – most of the mistakes I make on This Morning are because of it [her dyslexia], but it doesn’t do what it did to me back then because I don’t let it have power.
“I now know that it’s all about how you package it in your head.”
According to the NHS, dyslexia is a learning difficulty that can cause problems with reading, writing and spelling.
However, the British Dyslexia Association (BDA) states that the condition can affect people in other ways, including coordination, organisation and memory. They argue that claiming dyslexia only affects a person’s ability to read or write is a misconception, saying “if this were true, it would be much easier to identify”.
The BDA says that dyslexia can manifest in many different ways, and that each individual will experience the condition in a way that is unique to them. As such, each person will have their own set of abilities and challenges. However, unlike a learning disability, a person's intelligence isn't affected by dyslexia.
It's estimated up to one in every 10 people in the UK has some degree of dyslexia.
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