brother and sister study home

A pen of thorns by Steve McCue

Whenever I think about the difficulties I experienced with writing at school I am taken back to an image I used for a dyslexia project I did for my first dyslexia specialist qualification. It summed up dyslexia for me to a tee at that time. It was just a hand wearing an industrial glove and holding a pen covered in rose thorns. No non dyslexic will ever comprehend how the seemingly simple act of putting pen to paper can be so difficult and painful for dyslexics, on so many levels.

Going back to my secondary school days I can remember that I would look at others in my class writing neatly in joined up writing. All effortlessly guiding their pens in precise  delicate ballet like movements. They left no trail of ink or blots on the paper as their hands travelled across the page with all the ease of a professional skater on the ice. Their writing flowed easily across the page like water flowing down river. Sentences and paragraphs all neat and tidy, their correct spellings all miraculously appeared across the pages.

I couldn’t get it together at all. My pen felt uncomfortable, like an alien object from some distant planet in my left hand. My writing didn’t flow it stuttered like chalk screeching across a board. I had to drag it across the page like a heavy weight through mud. Whilst not quite as prickly as the pen in the picture it metaphorically might as well have been. No sooner had I put pen to paper there would be a mess of ink trailing behind my left hand. My hand would be covered in ink as I tried to engage in the act of hand writing. In the end I used to write with my head hunched over my work and my right hand covering the top of the paper.

A few minutes after I put pen to paper my hand would start to ache and cramp up. I had to grasp the pen so tightly in an effort to keep some control over my hand writing all to no avail. Oh my head would be full of ideas of what I wanted to write but I just couldn’t get them down on the paper.

When I left school I believed I would not succeed at anything. But my life path didn’t turn out to be as negative as I thought. Today I am a dyslexic dyslexia specialist, social entrepreneur, musician, composer, avid blog writer, founded my company Dyslexia Pathways CIC in 2009 and my Unique Dyslexic Get Creative project in 2013. Being dyslexic has enabled me to succeed more than I could have ever imagined. I believe dyslexia represents the diversity and difference inherent within humanity #vivaladifference.

Author: Steve McCue
About the Author:  Steve McCue is a dyslexic dyslexia and inclusion specialist, social entrepreneur, musician and human rights advocate. He founded Dyslexia Pathways CIC in 2009, Unique Dyslexic in 2013. Dyslexia is about diversity and difference #vivaladifference. You can learn more at and