Tracy Traynor

The Merseyside children's author writes about overcoming dyslexia

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At the age of five I was told I had learning difficulties. I understood this to be an adult’s way of saying I was stupid. I therefore struggled to read and write while also struggling with low self-esteem.

People with dyslexia are usually more creative and have a high level of intelligence (I wish someone had told me this when I was young). My first job after leaving school was washing up dishes in a restaurant as I believed this was the only job I was capable of.

I got married in my early twenties and within seven years had four sons, who became my world. Dyslexia can be hereditary and if you have it your children have a 50 per cent chance of getting it to. When my third son started school I knew he had a problem.

I thought that I never received help in school because it was the 1960s and they hadn’t heard of dyslexia. I was therefore shocked to discover that it was first identified by Oswald Berkhan in 1881! Why in 1984 I struggled to get help for my son and why parents today are still battling with the schools I don’t know. I fought for three years to get Ben some help. In the end I stopped the headmaster in the hallway and mentioned how a mum had sued a school for not diagnosing her son early. The following week I was told Ben would receive specialised help.

Dyslexia is not a disease and there is no cure. It’s a learning disability which slows a child’s progression but it doesn’t have to hold them back. At the age of 40 and now a divorced single mum I decided to go back to college to learn a trade to support us all. I completed my AAT accounting course with flying colours and I went into a job straight away where over the next eight years I got promoted three times and I am now the finance manager. Ben, who suffers from dyslexia far greater than me, is now a farm manager in Australia – the top guy, after several promotions.

Twenty-four years ago I started writing a book despite my poor English. At first I didn’t think anyone besides myself would read it but over the years I began to dream that I could write something that would allow people with problems to escape them for a while as they got lost in the world I had created.

I’ve poured my heart into the main character of my book, a young orphan boy called Idi. He starts his life being called names and bullied. The villagers know him as the village idiot and as he grows his nickname is shortened to Idi. Over three books we will see Idi learn to like himself and overcome his low self-esteem, just like Ben and I.

However, my English spelling and grammar are really bad and because I knew the book was full of errors I couldn’t bring myself to do anything with it. I met another writer called David on Facebook and we swapped books to review for each other and became great online friends. David began to both push and encourage me to self publish. I knew that now I had a computer and the great asset of spellcheck that the errors had been reduced regarding spelling but I knew the grammar was still not right so I wouldn’t do anything. Then one day David told me he was dying and that he wanted to see my book published before he died.

I couldn’t print it as it was so I paid to have it professionally edited, then finally after so many years I self published on Amazon. David very sadly died last year but he told me in one of our last conversations that he had read my book three times

I am so grateful to him for giving me the encouragement I needed to get over my insecurities. I struggle with the words to express the things that are happening in my book but I keep at it hoping that my story might encourage a child somewhere who is suffering with low esteem.

Idi & the Oracle’s Quest (Amazon, £6.99) is book one of the Born to Be series – a magical children’s fantasy novel with a message of encouragement and empowerment for those being bullied or put down because they are different

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