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NARRATOR: This is the public face of Kara Tointon.
SPEAKER 2: That was a stunning routine.
KARA TOINTON: You know what?You're always sticking your nose in, and you ain't got a clue.
NARRATOR: Privately, she's amongst the onein 10 Brits born with dyslexia, whichmeans she struggles to read.
KARA TOINTON: A company.A company.A company.Of severally wounded-- of severely wounded.
NARRATOR: Now Kara wants to confront what dyslexia isand why it's been holding her back.
CATHY PRICE: People of your age and intelligenceare normally much quicker and more accuratewhen they're reading.
KARA TOINTON: Mm-hmm.
NARRATOR: For the first time as an adult,she'll have her condition assessedand undergo training in an attemptto help her cope with her dyslexia.
KARA TOINTON: This is really thick of me,but I can't think right now.You try-- you really try-- and yetit just doesn't seem to go in.
NARRATOR: She wants to meet other the young dyslexicsto find that how their lives have been affected.
MICHAEL: Pe-dest-ri-an.Like, am I am I thick, or what's up with me?
OSCAR: It felt like just a wall of words, numbers, and people.And it was just trapped.
KARA TOINTON: We really need to wake up and thinkabout how we teach kids and so that these kids aren't gettinglost out there.
NARRATOR: Can she gain control over her dyslexia--
KARA TOINTON: I thought it was just K.
SPEAKER 6: You're not whispering in the background.
KARA TOINTON: Grrrr.Dad, I need to learn that part.
NARRATOR: --and transform the way she lives?
KARA TOINTON: It's like giving up an addiction, isn't it?Can I suddenly u-turn and decide to dosomething completely different?I don't know.I just felt stupid.
NARRATOR: Kara Tointon's life as an actressrevolves around scripts and stories.But behind the scenes, Kara has dyslexia--a neurological condition that makes reading difficult.
KARA TOINTON: I would love to be able to pick this up and justread it.To Caroline's asser-- oh, I hate thiswhen they start using hard-- assertion of her brother'sbeing partial to Mr. Darcy, she said no, she paid no credit.And much as she had always been dis--
KARA TOINTON [continued]: this is awful-- always been deposed to like him.To the caprice of their in-- sil-a-lin-- in-silinations.
NARRATOR: Dyslexia makes it hard for the brainto recognize a written word and pronouncethe way it sounds as a whole.
KARA TOINTON: It's almost as if each word is a process.It's as if it's broken down to its simplest formatand I'm seeing in-ter-fer-ence.
NARRATOR: And the way some dyslexic brainssee the page can make reading even harder.
KARA TOINTON: So parts of the page are brighter,and there's these little light marks throughout the writing.It's as if there's gaps, and there'slittle nooks and crannies in it.So it becomes so slow.And so for me to read something fluently, it's just impossible.
NARRATOR: Since leaving school, Karahas never read a book cover to cover.It's having more and more of an impact on her everyday life.
KARA TOINTON: Certain stories thathave been written that were really important--those classics and that everyone knows about.And it would be a shame not to have enjoyed themas well, because they are fantastic.As an actress, especially, I shouldbe reading lots of plays and lots of stories.And that's where I feel almost a letdown to myself in the career
KARA TOINTON [continued]: I've chosen.I don't do that.
NARRATOR: She now wants to confront her conditionand conquer her reading.
KARA TOINTON: Dyslexia is always holding me back,and I'm ready to find out why and to stop that.
NARRATOR: Kara's younger sister, Hannah, is an actress too.She's a daily reminder of how dyslexia makes Kara different.
KARA TOINTON: Everything we have everdone, we've always done together, haven't we?Just because we've got the same interests and we'vegot the same love in the career that we've chosen to go in.
HANNAH TOINTON: And you are very messy.
KARA TOINTON: I am?
HANNAH TOINTON: Kara's really messy and I'm--
KARA TOINTON: Thanks.
HANNAH TOINTON: --quite tidy.
KARA TOINTON: And I come in here and Hannah's-- every day,she's just in a book.
HANNAH TOINTON: The thing that's sad isI know that you want to be able to do it.And it's not like you just don't want to try at all.You actually would love to.
KARA TOINTON: In fact, one year we bothbought the same book-- the Harry Potter book.It was the fourth one, I think.And we were on holiday, and I sawthe speed of Hannah's reading.And by day two, I was just getting Hannahto tell me what was happening.She had her own world of Harry Potter.
KARA TOINTON [continued]: It's so special when you create that in your own mindwhen you're reading.It's so powerful.And she creates this world.And I just couldn't get past the first few pages.
HANNAH TOINTON: I'd love to, for a day, justknow what it's like for you to read something.
KARA TOINTON: I think if I could swap my head for Hannah'shead for the day, I think I would justmake the most of reading, really.All of the Harry Potters.
NARRATOR: Kara's decided she's letdyslexia rule her life long enough.
KARA TOINTON: I am definitely fed upwith putting things on hold.I'm having this vision that one day I'mgoing to be something different to who I am now.I just want to be the person who I'm going to be.
NARRATOR: Six million Brits are dyslexic.Kara wants to know what makes their brains differentto everyone else's.
KARA TOINTON: Hello, Cathy.
CATHY PRICE: Very nice to meet you.
KARA TOINTON: Oh, me too.
NARRATOR: Professor Cathy Price isgoing to scan Kara's brain for researchinto how dyslexia disrupts the reading process.
CATHY PRICE: The purpose of this studyis to work out how dyslexic brains differ from peoplewho haven't had any difficulty learning to read.And we're trying to group people into different subtypesof dyslexia.
KARA TOINTON: Let's go.I'm ready.
NARRATOR: By comparing Kara's brainto hundreds of other people's, Cathywill be able to tell Kara how her brain works differentlyto non-dyslexics when she's reading.
SPEAKER 3: Kara?
KARA TOINTON: Yeah?
SPEAKER 3: OK, so we are ready to go,and you're just telling us what you see.
KARA TOINTON: OK.
NARRATOR: Kara reads out words and identifiesimages that appear on a screen inside the scanner.Cathy records which areas of Kara's brainare now active to see if her brain connects upin the same way as non-dyslexics.She also measures the strength of Kara's brainsignals to see how much effort she's putting into read.
NARRATOR [continued]: Dyslexia has only been widely recognized in the last 15years, so scientists like Cathy are stilltrying to work out what causes it.What they do know is that it can run in families,but Kara's the only dyslexic in her family,and sister Hannah knows it's tough on her.
HANNAH TOINTON: She's not necessarilymade it the biggest issue of her life, but I do see itand she does get down about it.So, yeah, maybe this is a thing of finding outwho really she is.
KARA TOINTON: It's like being on on some beds.
CATHY PRICE: And look at this one.There's your nose.There's your eyes, your brain here-- comingthrough your face, basically.We're just looking straight the way through your face.And then down to your teeth.Look at those lovely teeth.
KARA TOINTON: It's hard for me to think, how does Cathywork out that I'm dyslexic from--
CATHY PRICE: The intensity of the signalmight be slightly different.They might be, say, darker on one sideand lighter on another side.
NARRATOR: Cathy will now analyze Kara's brain patternsand compare them to others.
CATHY PRICE: So when you come back next time,we might be able to tell you which bits of your brainhere might sort of show features that weassociate with dyslexia.
NARRATOR: Kara must now wait three weeks for Cathy's teamto analyze the scans.The first signs of dyslexia oftenappear when children start learningto read and write at school.
KARA TOINTON: Some of my old school books.
NARRATOR: Kara started to notice shewas behind the other children when she was around six,but didn't understand why.
KARA TOINTON: I just remember thinking, oh, goodness.It's just so hard.And do they really expect us to do this?And everyone else seems to be finding it really simple.This is what I did a lot-- the kindof writing the word how it sounds.
KARA TOINTON [continued]: So "friendly" would be f-r-e-n-l-y.Why would you design a word that doesn'tspell the way it sounds?That's like just putting a Z in "where,"just for the sake of it, as far as I was concerned.
KARA TOINTON [continued]: And I remember even thinking-- "concentrate and read."And I'd even go like this with my eyes,as if the eyes being wider would kind of help me.And sometimes I'd go-- and then I'dgo, what are they asking me to do?Nope, it didn't go in.
KARA TOINTON [continued]: I did feel stupid, really.I think I just felt stupid.
NARRATOR: Kara's teacher spotted shewas struggling when she turned seven and droppeda bombshell on her mom and dad.
SPEAKER 4: They were flabbergasted.She was 26 books behind everybody elseover a period of five weeks.And she had very, very low self-esteemcoming up to that time.And then I think as a person, naturally, she's fairly quietand doesn't push herself forward naturally.Because I think there is that lack of confidence, sometimes.
KARA TOINTON: I just hated going into school.And dad always dropped me off at school.And I used to run after him every morninguntil I was about 11.
NARRATOR: Kara was sent for tests,which gave her parents a much needed answer for whyshe was so behind.
SPEAKER 4: The fact the Kara was thendiagnosed as being dyslexic-- that pressure came offalmost immediately.I can well imagine that if she wasn't doing so well at schoolfor reasons we didn't understand,then we would have been probably a lot less patient with her.There could have been more argumentsand it would have been more stressful,and that would have had a profound effect
SPEAKER 4 [continued]: on Kara's upbringing over the next few years.
NARRATOR: Kara's future as an actress began at that moment.We wanted her to do speech and drama purelybecause it was important for her self-esteem.
KARA TOINTON: This is my last night as being a blonde.
FEMALE SPEAKER 5: No, alas.
KARA TOINTON: Again, a fortune teller told--
SPEAKER 4: It quickly become evident that shewas good at those things.She could stand up in front of people and, in a small way,start her acting career, I suppose.
KARA TOINTON: Everyone has something that they can doand they can excel at, I believe.But it's whether you've got the support behind youfrom your parents to go and find what that may be.And it's not always going to be foundin the school environment.
NARRATOR: Today, over 3/4 of a million British school kidsare thought to be dyslexic.But many go undiagnosed, and schoolscan find it hard to cope with the 4% of childrenthat are severely dyslexic.10 years after leaving school, Karais going back to the classroom to meet some of these children.She's visiting one of Britain's 14 registered specialist
NARRATOR [continued]: schools for dyslexics.It's a last resort for many of the pupils here.
KARA TOINTON: I'm really excited about seeing a school thatspecializes in something that I've had throughout my life.
NARRATOR: Shapwick is a private boarding schoolwhere lessons are tailored to the needs of eachof its 170 boys and girls.
KARA TOINTON: Hello.
SPEAKER 6: Good morning, Kara.Come on in.
KARA TOINTON: This is a lovely, small class.
SPEAKER 6: No snoozing in the back row, OK?Because the back row is only the second row.And we've set you up a desk here.If you'd like to sit down, you can join inwith our English lesson this morning.
KARA TOINTON: I shall try my best.Don't shine me up too much.
SPEAKER 6: And anything you're not sure of, you can ask Will,because he's had lots of English lessons in his classroom.
KARA TOINTON: So you're used to it.
SPEAKER 6: So before we start that,who can tell me what are these letters called?Patrick?
PATRICK: They're called vowels.
SPEAKER 6: They're called vowels.That's right.If they were people, what sort of people would they be?Alex?
ALEX: They're cowards.
SPEAKER 6: They are.They're sort of cowards, aren't they?
NARRATOR: Dyslexia doesn't just affect reading.It can obstruct short-term memory, too.
SPEAKER 6: What do we know about this letter here?
SPEAKER 7: It's the "big K."It's not very nice.
NARRATOR: So pupils here are taught new wordsby linking them to bright colors, shapes,and stories to help store them in their long-term memories.It's called multisensory learning.
SPEAKER 6: What do we need to do to the little vowelsto help them?
SPEAKER 8: "ck."
SPEAKER 6: We give it a friend that makes the same sound.So what I'd like you to do, boys and girls,is to make your alphabet with your plastic letters.Now, listen carefully to this one-- "tank," "tank."
KARA TOINTON: Oh my god, is it C-K?I thought it was just K.
SPEAKER 6: Why did you think it was just K, Kara?
KARA TOINTON: I thought it was justK because the N is there to project the A.
SPEAKER 6: Exactly.So you're right.It is.
KARA TOINTON: Oh, thank god.
SPEAKER 6: You're absolutely right.Don't worry.
NARRATOR: Kara's already breaking school rules.
SPEAKER 6: You're not whispering in the back row, are you?
NARRATOR: Most dyslexic school childrendon't get this kind of support.But to come to a school like Shapwick,parents must pay fees or fight for very fewstate-funded places.
KARA TOINTON: I just know that the normal way of teachingdidn't go in for me.And actually, now, this is it.It's kind of making me laugh, because it's so funny,how I know I would've-- it just makes sense, that it goes in.Because you're learning in this way,you'll be so more advanced than I am.
NARRATOR: Will is 10, and like many dyslexics,he also has associated conditionswhich can make school even harder.He started boarding here two years agoafter falling behind and being picked on.
KARA TOINTON: What do you rememberfinding the most difficult?
KARA TOINTON: I don't like maths either.
WILL: And I wasn't very good at spelling.And I also, I wasn't-- oop-- I wasn't very good at readingeither.They just made me feel like I was awkward.I wish I could be somebody else.But then when I came to this school,I realized that I want to keep who I am now,
WILL [continued]: because I know that I'm not stupid.
KARA TOINTON: What word were you practicing, Will?
KARA TOINTON: Pocket.
NARRATOR: As part of their English lesson,the children spell out words with physical movements.It helps the words to stick in their long-term memories.
WILL: K-- makes you remember-- shield protecting the K.
KARA TOINTON: The shield protectingthe K. Yeah, I like that one.It just goes in, doesn't it?
KARA TOINTON: P, O--
NARRATOR: 10 years ago, her old schooldid its best to help her.But for Kara, this way of learning is a revelation.
KARA TOINTON: "Pocket."Well done.And I've just realized today that everythingI learned in school was not-- it wasn't progressive at all.It was just all staggered.And I did used to put my hand up and I was confident enough--in an awkward way-- to say, I'm sorry Miss whoever.
KARA TOINTON [continued]: What did you say again?Or what do you mean?And the teacher's answer was, "youshould have been listening, Kara."And I remember I didn't hear that once.I heard that over and over and over.And actually, the teachers reallythought I wasn't paying attentionwhen I was paying 100% attention.And also-- I was talking to the teacher today,
KARA TOINTON [continued]: and we said how actually, some kids can then gointo having behavioral problems because they'retold so many times that they weren't listeningand they weren't paying attentionand they're bad-- when actually, naughty kids in other schoolshave come to this school, and they're not naughty at all.
NARRATOR: On average, two to three kidsin every UK classroom are dyslexic.Will and Kara were fortunate to be diagnosed young.Kara's meeting an older pupil herewhose dyslexia wasn't picked up until the situation gotreally bad.Oscar is 16.He's severely dyslexic and also has associated conditions.
NARRATOR [continued]: He came to Shapwick after he was diagnosed just 18 months ago.By then, he'd already been in and outof five regular schools.
OSCAR: If I was at my old school and you decidedto come and talk to me, I think I probably--I didn't talk to people a lot.And I didn't have any friends.I used to be the one that sat at the edge of the playground.I'm watching everyone play along and chatand they're laughing and playing.And then it's always, he's the weird onebecause of his dyslexia.
OSCAR [continued]: He's the weird one.Let's move on.I remember the kids sort of saying, oh, yeah, go away,and that sort of thing-- to the point where some of themdid tell me, you know, why don't you go die.I was a mess myself, because those teachers would force meinto the classroom-- literally, itwas five teachers-- one on each leg, one on each arm,
OSCAR [continued]: and one teacher telling them where to go.And it was-- you must get into the class.
KARA TOINTON: It was almost just escaping prison.
OSCAR: That's what it was.It was a prison.It felt like just a wall of words, numbers, and people.And it was just trapped--
KARA TOINTON: And uncomfortable.
OSCAR: --to the extent I tried to get out in a waythat-- well, I tried to commit suicide.That's how bad it was for me.
KARA TOINTON: Oh my god.
OSCAR: Yeah.The dinner lady stopped me.
NARRATOR: Oscar was only seven at the time,but he didn't harm himself.He found the way through was to get the help he needed.His life has now turned around.
OSCAR: This is the first time I've fitted in.I mean, my old school, every other lessonI would sit outside the door.
KARA TOINTON: For being naughty.
OSCAR: For being naughty-- or what they called naughty.And even at my old school, it was get out.Get out.Get out.And here, I've not been shouted out-- anything like that--once.I've not been told to get out.I've not been told I'm stupid.The whole world's gone the right way up.
OSCAR [continued]: Now I know that I can pass GCSEs.Now I actually know what sort of thing I want to do as a joband I know what I want to do in life.
KARA TOINTON: And what do you want?
OSCAR: Well, I want to be a teacher.I want to try and help other kids who were like me.
NARRATOR: Oscar's story has made Kara realize how destructive itcan be for young dyslexic people if their condition isundetected.
KARA TOINTON: That's-- just Oscar going through what hewent through-- it's just really quite sad.And you always think, oh, it's not that bad.But it was.It was really hard, because you don't reallyunderstand why-- because you try, you really try,
KARA TOINTON [continued]: and yet it just doesn't seem to go in.It's a real lesson to pass onto peoplewho just aren't aware of it.
KARA TOINTON [continued]: There's one piece of paper that I'vebeen looking for for about a week.I'll find it.Oh, see?This is it.This is typical.I've just lost my phone.
NARRATOR: Kara is starting to suspectthe dyslexia doesn't just disrupt how she reads,but how she organizes her whole life.
KARA TOINTON: This is all I do all day.I just look for things that-- oh, here it is.I literally spend my life looking for things.There's a few questions I need to find out,because I'm a little bit in the dark to wheremy personality begins and dyslexia end.
NARRATOR: Kara is often at her parents' place,so it's a question her mum's asking too.
KARA TOINTON: My mum.
CAROL: Perhaps we're blaming the dyslexic onto the way you are.
KARA TOINTON: Yeah, where everythingis a problem-- dyslexia.I'm sure it's my dyslexia.That is the trouble.I don't know what I can and can't blame it on.
CAROL: You're so untidy, aren't you?It would make life easier if you'd justdo little things as you go along.But you don't seem to be able to do those things as yougo along, do you?
KARA TOINTON: And she's off on one now.
CAROL: I nag a lot, really, don't I?I do nag about things.The reason I'm nagging is that because I'mtrying to help you on your way, because-- tryingto make you more organized.
KARA TOINTON: Well, I think I feellike I have been hiding any sort of problem in my life.I've just sort of papered across the cracks and pretend--
CAROL: I think you need routine.
KARA TOINTON: Yes.
CAROL: When you was in EastEnders, you had a routine.
KARA TOINTON: Yeah, but I've got to work that out, really,because I'm so sick of just not getting anywhere, really,with my organization.
NARRATOR: Kara's own flat is close by to her family's.While it's being renovated, she sees itas a place to escape her difficulties.
KARA TOINTON: I couldn't find my keys.
NARRATOR: But her disorganizationseems to follow her wherever she goes.
KARA TOINTON: This is awful.But I just sort of press a few numbers.Isn't that awful?See who's in, see who will let me in.
KARA TOINTON: Hello, I'm so sorry.I locked myself out.
ED: Am I talking to Kara?
KARA TOINTON: Yes.
ED: Hello Kara.
KARA TOINTON: Hey, Ed.Thank you for letting me in.
ED: You're welcome.
ED: Bye, darling.Bye.
KARA TOINTON: Au revoir.
NARRATOR: Some experts believe dyslexicshave stronger visual memories whichcan make them more creative than others.
KARA TOINTON: I'm putting the red lid back on the blue thing.If my mum was here right now, she would actually cry.She would just be upset about that red lid on the blue thing.No, that's not got a lid on it.
NARRATOR: But for Kara, painting is justher refuge from the constant feelingthat she's made a mistake.
KARA TOINTON: There's no correct answer with art, is there?Whereas, I guess in all my other subjects,there was always a tick or a cross-- a right or a wrong.But in art, I think you have to be messy.You can't not be messy.That's the whole point.I just love it.I could do all day, every day.
NARRATOR: In a world full of written information,the words that surround us can beoverwhelming for people with this lifelong condition.Katherine Kindersley tests adultsto see how dyslexia might be affecting themin everyday life.Kara is meeting her for tests, because shewants to know whether dyslexia is shaping
NARRATOR [continued]: the way she copes day to day.
KARA TOINTON: It's funny how everything happens at once.I left my job, and then me and my boyfriend are not together,and I'm moving flat, and oh, you can get a bit stressed,can't you, over silly things.I'm just feeling the most unorganizedI've ever felt at the moment.It can make you feel a little bit worried about things,
KARA TOINTON [continued]: really.
NARRATOR: This is going to be a revealing session for Kara.Katherine is going to scrutinize howshe copes with the information life bombards us all with.Katherine checks how well Kara canhold onto exact sequences of numbers in her memoryby asking her to repeat them back.
KARA TOINTON: Three, one, four, two, three, seven, one.
KATHERINE KINDERSLEY: This time, Iwant you to say the numbers backwards.
KARA TOINTON: Oh my goodness.Seven, six, two, four.
KATHERINE KINDERSLEY: Colors.
NARRATOR: Katherine now tests how quickly and accuratelyKara can find the right words to describethe colors and images she sees.
KARA TOINTON: Blue, red, green, black, brown, yellow, red,black, black.Brown, yellow, brown, green, red, yellow, star, fish,pencil, key, chair, star, pencil, fish, boat, star,chair, key, chair, boat, fish.
KATHERINE KINDERSLEY: OK, well done.
NARRATOR: Kara sails through some of the exercises,but they're about to become more demanding.
KATHERINE KINDERSLEY: I'm going to say two words to you,and I'm going to ask you how they are alike.In what way are an anchor--
NARRATOR: Today's aim is to reveal Kara's difficulties,but she's is now feeling exposed as her abilityto describe the meanings of words is tested.
KARA TOINTON: They're alike because they'reforms of-- my vocabulary is really not good today.I get really frustrated when I'm talking.I can't catch the words I'm wanting to use.
KATHERINE KINDERSLEY: It's just that it doesn'tseem to pull out-- pull out the right bit of the brainwhen you-- or from the brain-- when you need it.I'm just going to hear you read aloud.
NARRATOR: This is the most challenging taskfor Kara, especially under these test conditions.
KARA TOINTON: Private Charles Nod-lerwas attached to a company-- a company-- a company--and was fighting in the jungles of Okinawa-- Okinawa.All the men in his squad and companyhad been killed or severally wounded-- or severely wounded.
KATHERINE KINDERSLEY: Where was Private Charles Nodlerfighting?Do you remember that?
KARA TOINTON: In Okin-- in Japan, in Oka-na-we-ya.
KATHERINE KINDERSLEY: And how long before reinforcementswould arrive?
KARA TOINTON: I can't even remember what I read.This is really thick of me, but I can't think right now.
KATHERINE KINDERSLEY: Well done, for workingthrough all of that.
KARA TOINTON: I don't think my brain'sworked this much in about 10 years.
KATHERINE KINDERSLEY: It's a lot of concentration, isn't it?
NARRATOR: The way Kara processes language gives Katherinea clear-cut diagnosis.
KATHERINE KINDERSLEY: Because of the dyslexic difficultyof decoding or breaking down wordsinto their sounds, the effort that you are putting into really make sure that you're reading the wordsaccurately means that you're not holdingonto the meaning at the same time.
KARA TOINTON: Maybe sometimes I haveto read it eight to 10 times to get what it's meaning.
NARRATOR: She's also detected that Kara's short-term memoryis weak.
KATHERINE KINDERSLEY: But there is a dip,if you like, in your ability to hold onto informationin your mind in the short term.
NARRATOR: This is the most common characteristicof dyslexia, but it's a real eye-opener for Kara.
KATHERINE KINDERSLEY: In normal life,you have to do quite a lot of remembering messages,organizing daily life.
KARA TOINTON: Remembering where things have been put?
KATHERINE KINDERSLEY: Are you well organized in that way?
KARA TOINTON: I would say all of those things are bad--very bad.
KATHERINE KINDERSLEY: I suspect that it'sthat memory challenge which is affecting your organization aswell.It's just-- you've lost it.It slipped your mind, or you're nowconcentrating on something else.So that is completely characteristic of dyslexia.
NARRATOR: The diagnosis has given Karaan explanation for her scattiness,but it's making her question why she's neverfaced up to her condition until now.
KARA TOINTON: I felt really, really naked in there.Suddenly, today I was put in a situationwhere I couldn't disappear.It's very weird because it's just a silly little test,but it just made me realize that in life we just
KARA TOINTON [continued]: choose to follow our comfort zone, and that's bad.You should push yourself to do things that aren't comfortable.
NARRATOR: Kara now realizes that dyslexia has been holding herback more than she'd imagined.Since leaving EastEnders a year ago,she's been back on the audition circuit, whereshe has to be able to read and learn scripts fast.
KARA TOINTON: My first line is, "Ryan buys two breakfastsand doesn't eat both himself.Am I still asleep?" "Ryan buys two breakfastsand doesn't eat both himself." "Ryan buys two--"
NARRATOR: Over the years, Kara has developed her own waysof getting around the difficulties causedby dyslexia.
KARA TOINTON: My system is, I'll read a line,and then I'll write it down.And then I just keep adding a line every time or moreuntil it really funnels in.
NARRATOR: But writing each line out more than 10 timesis a lengthy and painstaking process.
KARA TOINTON: I hate this part, really.If this was what acting was about,I probably wouldn't do, because--But when you get there and start saying it out loud,that's when you realize that it's how amazing it is.It's worth this part.
NARRATOR: Kara often has to rely on her mom and dadto get the lines right.
KARA TOINTON: Mum?Would you mind giving me a hand, please?
KEN: Do you know when you come in?
KARA TOINTON: Yeah.
KEN: So Molly, four replies in three days.
KARA TOINTON: The box room-- there.It's small, but if you get rid of all the stuff,you can fit a bed in.No?
KEN: No, it's the box room-- it's the box room there.
KARA TOINTON: Dad, I'm not acting it in the moment.I'm just learning the lines.
KEN: OK, all right.
KARA TOINTON: It's small, but if you-- Dad,I need to learn that.But-- it's small, but if you clear the stuff out,you can get a bed in.It's small, it's small, but if you clear the stuff out,you can get a bed in.If you get the stuff out, clear the stuff out.
KEN: It's small, but if you clear the stuff out,you can get a bed in.
NARRATOR: Many dyslexics find waysof getting around their difficulties,and relying on loved ones is common.When it comes to the audition the next day,Kara is on her own.
NARRATOR [continued]: Kara is now wondering how much easier lifeis for people without dyslexia.During her four years on EastEnders,she was reading and memorizing up to 40 short scenes a week.But she never talked about her condition--not even to her closest costar, Ricky Groves.
RICKY GROVES: Hello.
KARA TOINTON: I bet you've got loads of women back in Walford.
RICKY GROVES: No, not me.
KARA TOINTON: Yeah right.
RICKY GROVES: No, and I'm all about respect and commitment.
KARA TOINTON: We never discussed my dyslexia at work, did we?
RICKY GROVES: No, we never did.
KARA TOINTON: In the four years I was there.
RICKY GROVES: No, it never really appeared with you.I think you-- well, like all of us,we had our ups and downs with regardsto good days and bad days.But it was never a case of, oh no, here comes the dyslexicagain.You know what I mean?
KARA TOINTON: So I'd do one line.And then I'd write it down about seven times.And then the second line, I'd add to thatand write the two lines seven times--and just keep adding a line.
RICKY GROVES: Wow, I didn't know that.I did not know that.
KARA TOINTON: And then I had to learn your lines.
RICKY GROVES: Well, it didn't show.
KARA TOINTON: Well, I'm good.And here, look, these are my, this is the one I did.So this is one of my books.There might even be one of our scenes in here.I have no idea.
RICKY GROVES: So this was you, every night,when you got home after a day of work.Look, this is where I punch Phil, do you remember?
KARA TOINTON: Yeah, this is our last episode-- episode 3,848.Just for fun and a bit of reminiscing, would you learn ityour way and I'll learn it my way,and then we'll see how good our memories still are.
RICKY GROVES: Yeah, we'll do that.Yeah.Go on, off you go.
KARA TOINTON: I'm going to go over here.
RICKY GROVES: OK.I'll see what I can do.
KARA TOINTON: OK.Good luck.
NARRATOR: Non-dyslexics like Ricky take it for grantedthat they can read and retain information.Kara and other dyslexics often haveto work much harder to do the same thing.
KARA TOINTON: Have you learnt it yet?
RICKY GROVES: Yeah.
KARA TOINTON: Wow.
RICKY GROVES: You've got a lot more than me.
KARA TOINTON: That's a point.You haven't got that much.
RICKY GROVES: Well, I've just said that to them.Don't have a go at me.
NARRATOR: There's a big differencein the time it's taking each of them,and this is just the last of over 150 episodesthey acted together.
RICKY GROVES: To learn a scene like that, that scene wouldprobably take me, on average, I supposeyou'd look at it for 10, 15 minutes.
KARA TOINTON: And this is our last scene,so I've probably have spent-- goodness, me-- three hours,maybe?Right.I'm ready.Are you ready?
RICKY GROVES: Yeah.
KARA TOINTON: I'm quite excited.You know what I've realized, doing this, though?I have realized how good my long-term memory is.And if they gave this to us a year before we filmed,that would have been amazing.
RICKY GROVES: You think so?We'll see how it goes.
KARA TOINTON: OK.Ready?
RICKY GROVES: Yeah.
KARA TOINTON: Gary!Gary!Stop the boat.Stop the boat.
RICKY GROVES: I don't know that scene.
KARA TOINTON: You always make me laugh, Gary.
RICKY GROVES: Thanks for that.
KARA TOINTON: No, I'm not talking a little chuckle.I mean right from the pit of my belly laughing.
RICKY GROVES: I'm good for something, then am I?
KARA TOINTON: You're good for a lot of things.So what if you've got a paunch and you're losing your hair?
RICKY GROVES: It's just the way it's styled.
KARA TOINTON: But I think--Don't tell me.Every time I've needed you, you've always been with me.
RICKY GROVES: [FANFARE].
KARA TOINTON: I did all right there.
RICKY GROVES: You've done well.
KARA TOINTON: Aww.
RICKY GROVES: Happy days.Happy days.Take care.
KARA TOINTON: Au revoir.
RICKY GROVES: Bye-bye.
KARA TOINTON: Mes amis.I'm going this way.
RICKY GROVES: I'm going this way.
KARA TOINTON: The time span of my learning and how slow I amis a really odd fact that I hadn't thought about.So yeah, for me, it'll be taking ages and ages and agesto learn my lines, whereas normally it shouldn't reallytake that long.That's quite interesting.
NARRATOR: Kara's realizing how littleshe's understood until now about how dyslexia defines her.
KARA TOINTON: I had decided what dyslexiawas in my mind-- what it meant, how it affected me.And I'd put it in a file and accepted,for me, that was that.And it's as if someone has suddenlyadded all these things that is kind of blowing my mind.
NARRATOR: She's now going to find outhow different her brain function is to that of non-dyslexics.Her brain scan results are through.
CATHY PRICE: When it came to reading familiar words,people of your age and intelligenceare normally much quicker and more accuratewhen they're reading them.So you were dyslexic insofar as you were slower to respond.
NARRATOR: Cathy has discovered that Karauses the same pathways in her brainto read as those without dyslexia,but she's using much more effort.
CATHY PRICE: So you were saying horse and donkey--but despite reading easy words, your brainis still working particularly hard.
NARRATOR: To read out words, Kara's brain must visuallyrecognize the letters of the word,put those letters together, work out the meaning of the word,and then finally say the word out loud.
CATHY PRICE: This red is how high your activity was,and you see that it's higher than allof the other typical readers.People who are speaking in a second language--when they're reading in English, they also show more activity.
KARA TOINTON: I'm almost working like a French person readingEnglish.That's not good then, is it?
NARRATOR: Despite the brave face,finding out that her memory and reading are significantlyslower is troubling for Kara.
KARA TOINTON: I know this is a bit dramatic,but I end up sort of hating myselfbecause I can't seem to get anything right sometimes.It really is in my hands now.And if I want to make certain changes in my life,it's really down to me putting the work and the effort in.
NARRATOR: Dyslexia can't be cured,but specialist tuition can help adult dyslexics managethe everyday tasks made tricky.Kara has signed up for some one to one classes.
KARA TOINTON: Hello.
CLAIRE SALTER: Hiya.
NARRATOR: Tutor Claire Salter wantsto start by transforming the way Karadeals with her poor short-term memory.
CLAIRE SALTER: In the same way that youmight have organizational problems in life, actually,we can do that in our brain.If you just put something down when you come in quicklyand don't pay attention to where it is, when you go to find itlater it's really difficult to find.The better I store it, the more easilyI can then find it later.[AUDIO PLAYBACK]-How much?-Sixpence.-There's a shilling.
CLAIRE SALTER [continued]: No, keep the change.[END AUDIO PLAYBACK]
KARA TOINTON: Yes, he's putting on a performance.
NARRATOR: Claire is showing Kara howto learn her script lines by associating them with colors,sounds, buzz words, and physical movementto anchor them in her long-term memory.She's using the same multisensory learning techniquethe Kara had a taste of at Shapwick school.[AUDIO PLAYBACK]-Hide the Christmas tree carefully, Helen.Be sure the children do not see it until this evening
NARRATOR [continued]: when it is dressed.
KARA TOINTON: Does it matter where I put them?
CLAIRE SALTER: No, no.As long as you can anchor and remember your movement.So what I do is get you to go around a number of timeslike that-- so your listening and repeating,listening and repeating.-Hide the Christmas tree carefully, Helen.Be sure the children do not see it until this eveningwhen it is dressed.
KARA TOINTON: Hide the Christmas tree carefully, Helen.Don't let them see it until tonightwhen it is properly dressed.
CLAIRE SALTER: That's very close.Yeah, yeah, it wouldn't take very long for--
KARA TOINTON: No, it wouldn't after a few timesof-- how much?There's a shilling.-Keep the change.
KARA TOINTON: Keep the change.-Has my little spendthrift been wasting money again?[END AUDIO PLAYBACK]
KARA TOINTON: Yes, Torvald, but wecan afford to let ourselves go a little.This is the first year that we have nothad to econo-- economize.
CLAIRE SALTER: It's getting close.
KARA TOINTON: And then she says, "poo, poo,but we can borrow until then."
CLAIRE SALTER: Exactly that.Poo, we can borrow until then.
KARA TOINTON: Oh my goodness.That's not bad, is it?No, I can see how it's working, though.That's the thing.I feel like I've been quite lazy in the past,just to think that there's only-- there's one way.And there's so many different ways of doing everything.
CLAIRE SALTER: But it's the opposite of lazy,because you were just giving yourself such hard work.
KARA TOINTON: Yeah.I know.I'm such a twit.
CLAIRE SALTER: Not anymore.
NARRATOR: These techniques are a revelation.But will Kara be brave enough to ditchthe habit she's leaned on all her life?
KARA TOINTON: I could really benefit massively,and I mean really big time.But just being stuck in my ways--being stuck in the same old, and just being used to that.It's like anything.It's like giving up an addiction, isn't it?It's-- that's the way I've done it for so long.Can I suddenly u-turn and decide to do
KARA TOINTON [continued]: something completely different?I don't know.It's a bit--I'm hoping that I take this on.I'm hoping that I don't go home today and think,I'm just going to stick to my old way of learningand my old routine.
NARRATOR: In Nottingham, another young dyslexicis trying to transform the way he lives his life by learningto read and write from scratch in orderto help him find a job.Michael is the same age as Kara.He only learned a year ago that he's severely dyslexic.He relies on his girlfriend Karina to help him job hunt,
NARRATOR [continued]: because for most of his life he'sbeen unable to read or write at all.
MICHAEL: Hours can be flexible by agreement.
KARINA: Arrangement.MICHAEL Arrangement.I nearly got that right, didn't I?Position is temporary.I'm not sure what that says.
KARINA: Please enter your ten key skills, separated by icons.
MICHAEL: Ten skills.
MICHAEL: Yeah, kind.Still can't spell "kind."
KARINA: You can.Try.Go on.It's dead easy, honestly.
MICHAEL: I don't know.
KARINA: N-D. Flexible.
NARRATOR: Kara wants to know how Michaelhas coped since being excluded from school at 15.
MICHAEL: When it comes to reading and writing,I just couldn't do it at all.Like, am I thick, or what?What's up with me?
KARA TOINTON: Did you know what you were going to do?
MICHAEL: I really wanted a job.I really wanted to stick at a job.As soon as they asked me to do their paperwork,I felt embarrassed to tell them that I couldn't read or write.And it's so embarrassing.When they say to you, fill this form out, or canwrite your name and address down there please, I felt an idiot.
KARA TOINTON: Because you just couldn't.
MICHAEL: I just couldn't do it.
NARRATOR: Michael turned to crimeand spent time in prison for a string of offenses.
MICHAEL: I was a tearaway.In and out of cop shops, in and out of jail.And I used to get fed up, thinking,surely there's something better in life than this.So I'm not going to blame it all on mebeing dyslexic-- the way I've turned outand the things that I've done.They're my own.
NARRATOR: After his last stay in prison a year ago,the probation service sent Michael for a dyslexia test.
KARA TOINTON: How did it make youfeel when they told you you were dyslexic?What was that like?
MICHAEL: I was over the moon, really,to tell you the truth, that they found somethingthat-- that I wasn't just thick at school.
NARRATOR: Since then, he's been attending weekly dyslexiasupport classes.
MICHAEL: I felt things changing, like first,when I couldn't even read the alphabet-- backbefore I could spell Nottingham, that's all.But now I can spell it, and that'sa big word to me-- Nottingham.It's like, whoa.
NARRATOR: Now Michael wants to take responsibility, find work,and stay out of trouble.
MICHAEL: What would be the ideal job?What would you be looking for?
MICHAEL: I'd do anything now, to tell you the truth.I'd work as anything.Just give me a chance.Because I'm not embarrassed now to just go up to themand say, look, I can't read or write.I'd love to grab a book-- a full,a big, thick book-- read it from start to finish.I would love to do that.
KARA TOINTON: Me too.
MICHAEL: Just get lost in the book, do you know what I mean?I really would.If you can read and write, you get a lot further in life-- Ithink, anyway.
KARA TOINTON: Oh, we caught a fish.
NARRATOR: Michael hopes he can slowly turn his life aroundwith the help of his dyslexia classes.Talking to other young dyslexics for the first time in her lifeis making Kara realize that what can really make one dyslexic'slife different from another's is whether they get support.
KARA TOINTON: When you meet someone on a personal leveland you hear what he's been through, it's more upsettingand it makes me feel angry that there'shundreds and thousands of kids going through that every day.And I would have been one of them-- no doubt about it,I would have been one of them.But I had the support that they should have all had.And we really need to wake up and think
KARA TOINTON [continued]: about how we teach kids and so that these kids aren'tgetting lost out there.
NARRATOR: Things brightening up for Kara.A month into her dyslexia classes,and she's trying out the new techniquesfor real after she got news from that audition.
KARA TOINTON: And I got the job, which is brilliant.I'm playing a really lovely guest lead role.And I was able to use what I've learned in my last trainingsession for that job.
NARRATOR: Kara is now becoming a naturalat rerouting information from her short-to her long-term memory.By associating her lines with colors, buzz words,and her physical movement around the room,she's learning her scripts in just half the timeit used to take her-- and she no longer needsthe help of her mom and dad.
KARA TOINTON: It's in.Using the new way of learning my lineswas definitely a deeper way of learningand helped with that job so much.And when I've gone on set, I realizethat I wasn't thinking so much, and it had just gone in.This is something that I will take on and practice forever
KARA TOINTON [continued]: now.
NARRATOR: Now she's seen how much her life can improve,Kara wants to read a book cover to cover more than ever.For some dyslexics, the way wordsare laid out on the page adds to the difficulty theyhave reading.So Kara is going to see optometrist Nigel Burnett Hodd.
NIGEL BURNETT HODD: When you're reading a book,do you see all the words all in line,or do you sometimes see them swirling around?
KARA TOINTON: Yeah, I just get these marks in the page.I notice that the white really comes through in the gaps.
NIGEL BURNETT HODD: It becomes sort of confused.
NARRATOR: Nigel thinks the white backgroundcan trigger this visual stress.
NIGEL BURNETT HODD: If you're in a dark room,you suddenly go into very bright surroundings.For you, it's like that all the time for a white background.So we need to soften down the white background.
NARRATOR: Every color has a different wavelength.For some dyslexics, white is too intense for the brainto process easily.
NIGEL BURNETT HODD: And what we dois use color filters to slow down the wavelength of light.So a book that used to take you four hours to read,you'll read in two hours-- but not only that,but after two hours, we could ask youwhat happened in the book.And you'll actually say, oh, I remember this, this, and this.
KARA TOINTON: It sounds like my miracle.
NIGEL BURNETT HODD: But if I put this over it--
KARA TOINTON: Yeah, that straightawaymakes it comfortable.The black looks kind of raised and almost brings it backto the white.
NIGEL BURNETT HODD: Sort of calms it.
KARA TOINTON: Calms it.Yeah.
NIGEL BURNETT HODD: So if I put this oneover the front, a green color.
KARA TOINTON: That's really good.
NARRATOR: Next, Nigel tests Kara's eyesto make sure there are no other problems.The green color Kara has chosen is nowbroken down into a spectrum so that shecan choose just the right shade to help her read more easily.
KARA TOINTON: I think this one's better.Yeah, it makes it more comfortable.That's my color.
NARRATOR: Nigel has prescribed Kara dark green lenses.
KARA TOINTON: I look very, very intelligent.
NARRATOR: Kara now has to wait for her new specsto be made up to see if they'll help her fulfillher dream of diving into the world of Harry Potter.Kara is still going to her one to one classes,and for the first time, she's beginningto tackle the disorganization thatwas casting a cloud over her life.
KARA TOINTON: At the moment, it's fantastic.I'm filming that drama that I got in Manchester.And that's going really well.And I'm doing Strictly Come Dancing.It's just funny that everything comes at once.
NARRATOR: She's learned how to divide upher diary into colorful, hourly slots.
KARA TOINTON: Suddenly, everything becomes timed.And you can visualize yourself doing the thingsrather that just putting 20 things into Tuesday.It's the first time I've gone into another busy phaseand I've actually been a bit prepared for itand not had to stress and be upset and angry with myself
KARA TOINTON [continued]: all the time because I'm so unorganizedand I'm turning up to things with five bags.I'm getting rid of all of that baggagethat I once made my life a nightmare.
NARRATOR: Well, almost.
KARA TOINTON: I still lose things all the time.It hasn't kicked in just yet.
NARRATOR: Kara will never stop being dyslexic,but her power to change some of the habits of a lifetimeis starting to sink in.
KARA TOINTON: I'm getting it slowly.I'm understanding what makes my life easier.
NARRATOR: It's been five months since Kara set offto discover what dyslexia is and the impact it can have.
KARA TOINTON: I thought I had the word "dyslexia" wrapped upin my brain and knew exactly what it meant-- when in fact, Ilook at dyslexia in a completely different way.It's not something that just affects reading.It's everything you take on every day.Everything you take in is taken in a certain way
KARA TOINTON [continued]: because you are dyslexic.
SPEAKER 6: So if, in a word, we have a little vowel--
KARA TOINTON: It has changed me.And it's made me aware of who I am-- why I was the way I was.And I needed to answer those questions for myself in orderto get better at all those thingsthat I didn't like about myself.This is really thick of me, but I can't think right now.
KARA TOINTON [continued]: The most important thing I've learnedis that dyslexic people don't have to walk aroundwith a massive cloud hanging over them.They don't need it to control and wreck their lives.Being dyslexic doesn't mean you're stupid.It doesn't mean you're thick.It just means that you need to be taught in a certain way that
KARA TOINTON [continued]: fits your brain and works for you.And that is all it is.
KARA TOINTON: My glasses have arrived.
NARRATOR: Kara is now ready to try out the life of a bookworm.
KARA TOINTON: They're so beautiful.I'm gonna look.I've been so excited about getting these.
NARRATOR: While there's no easy fix for the difficulty shehas processing words, she's hoping her new green specs willmake it easier for her to visually process the page.
KARA TOINTON: "Tom woke Harry next morningwith his usual toothless grin and a cup of tea.Harry got dressed, and was just persuading a disgruntled Hedwigto get back into her cage."Who would've thought that a little bit of colored glasswould change that so much for me?
KARA TOINTON [continued]: There's so many books I want to read,so I'd better get started on ticking off the list.[MUSIC PLAYING]
Don’t Call Me Stupid
View Segments Segment :
Disorganization, short term memory loss, and struggling to read are just some of the side effects associated with dyslexia. In this documentary, Kara Tointon learns more about her condition and ways to overcome the many challenges she faces. Kara will meet people just like her and explore the struggles living with dyslexia from other perspectives.
Disorganization, short term memory loss, and struggling to read are just some of the side effects associated with dyslexia. In this documentary, Kara Tointon learns more about her condition and ways to overcome the many challenges she faces. Kara will meet people just like her and explore the struggles living with dyslexia from other perspectives.