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Real Stories

My Disability Story

I have dyslexia, dyspraxia and autism. My disabilities have always played a significant role within my life. I was not diagnosed with dyslexia and dyspraxia until I was 18 years old studying BA History at Nottingham Trent University. I have not got an official diagnosis for autism as it is difficult to receive a diagnosis as a woman.  It was difficult as a child to get by as I was always wondering why I was different and unfortunately, I did not get the support I required. Despite this I was relatively happy.

I was bullied relentlessly as a child due to being different which was certainly a challenge. I struggled with passing my maths GCSE and had to take the exam four times, finally passing due to the help of two teachers, a tutor and taking every past paper available. I was determined to pass despite my numerous struggles and was delighted when I gained my C. I would later struggle quite a bit while studying for my A-levels. I struggled to understand and grasp the step up required. While in my 2nd year of A-levels at Park Hall Academy my history teacher and psychology teacher suggested that I might be worth me taking a test to determine if I would be able to type my exams. The History teacher also provided a letter for me to give to NTU university.

I never let my difficulties get in my way despite having many obstacles to overcome. When I was younger, I learnt to ride a bike no matter how many times I fell I always tied again. My sped at which to pick up new skills was somewhat slower than others but I was always so determined. It took me a long time to learn to tie my shoe laces but eventually I learnt. As someone who is different, I learnt to persevere. Despite  being dyslexic I had always loved to read and as a child read books for children significantly higher than my actual age. Learning in a different way was so important, I learnt fractions with Freddo chocolate pieces in primary school.

Even though at school I was largely academically average I was able to attend university. The fact that I was able to gain an MA in History of Warfare from a Russel group university in the form of University of Birmingham demonstrates that perseverance pays off.

Despite being dyspraxic I have participated in more than a few sports. As a child I participated in karate and was superb at it. At 16 I started archery, while I was personally never any good it was something I was dedicated to.  At University I became the captain of the club and I coached a small amount of students. I learnt that while I was not going to attain to anything in archery personally, I was superb at teaching. I found that I understood the principals in theory but due to my disabilities could not follow through in practice. This understanding is what led to me realising I could teach others in archery instead.  While studying for my MA I began fencing. Fencing is not something I am particularly that great at but I enjoy it. I sometimes find it incredibly frustrating that my friends are progressing forward in fencing faster than I am but then I have to remind myself that I do have disabilities and will progress slower.

During the pandemic I had the time to really explore my autism and I was able to reach a place of acceptance for myself.  I have always struggled with being autistic, as a child I was led by society to understand that being autistic meant that there was something wrong with you, that you were weird. Autistic women in particular have a difficult time as they are told that autism is a male disability. As a 23 year old I was able to realise that It is ok that I am autistic, that is a part of me and that I do not need to be ashamed of it.

My volunteer work within disability or underprivileged communities really began in 2021 when I joined City Year Uk as a Volunteer Mentor. Working within a school as a mentor for children who needed assistance really contributed to me believing in my own disabilities to.  In 2022 I began my 2 year volunteering stint with Dyspraxia Foundation, I enjoyed the opportunity to provide for my own community and as a result my commitment took off from there.  In 2022 I also began writing articles for Redbrick Newspaper which led to me realising that I had a talent for writing. I decided to use my newfound voice to help to provide a voice to those in the community that could not do so for themselves. The first award I gained came from my article ‘we are dyspraxic and we are sick of judgment’ when I found that it had made the shortlist for the Student Publication Awards. Later that same year I would be nominated for the National Diversity Awards and be awarded the Matthew Hunt Award for services to the dyspraxia community from the Dyspraxia Foundation.  In 2024 I am a finalist for the Learning Disability  and Autism Leaders List, Nominated for the WM 50 WM, Nominated for the Shaw Trust Disability 100 Power list and nominated for the National Diversity Awards.

Every time I tell my story or the story of my community, I hope that it helps even just one person. If I have helped one person then I have achieved what I set out to do.

If anyone would like to vote for me, they can do so via the link below.

https://www.nationaldiversityawards.co.uk/awards-2024/nominations/charis-gambon/

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