John Burns


Vital stats

  • Age: 45
  • Problem areas: Reading, writing, concentration, memory, co-ordination, organisation
  • Completed Dore: January 2010


“My experience of education from a very early age was linked to failure, frustration – and an unspoken belief that everyone else was better than me. I couldn’t understand why it was so hard for me to complete tasks that others around me managed with what appeared to be no real effort. In my early years, I managed to hide the fact that I wasn’t able to spell, read to the standard of my peers, concentrate or retain important information.

As I went through school, I developed various coping mechanisms that that concealed these deficiencies, but I found it impossible to construct sentences or manage sequences. A simple task like learning a recorder caused me huge anxiety and I remember faking illnesses on Wednesday mornings just to avoid practice!

Playing rugby gave me a sense of confidence, but when I started at comprehensive school, I felt totally lost. I could hardly negotiate the timetable. I was put in all the bottom sets, and started to opt out of any purposeful activity, including rugby. My English really held me back but my learning needs were never recognised or supported by the school.

My journey

I left school at 15 with no qualifications and a sense of anger that the school had done nothing to help me – and a fear that the negative prophecies of certain teachers regarding my future would come true. I worked on the markets until I joined the caring profession, staying as an unqualified carer for nine years before securing a place on a vocational course.

But there, all my demons came back to haunt me. I really struggled with the academic work and was on the brink of giving up every time I had to produce an assignment. The fear and anxiety was overwhelming, but eventually, with a lot of support, spell checking and help from others, I did finally achieve my qualification.

Some years later, my wife found out about Dore and took the step of enrolling me on the programme. The initial tests showed that I had dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD. I couldn’t believe it – finally I had a reason for my learning difficulties. I embarked on the programme and within a few months, started to notice some marked improvements.

The future

My handwriting started to improve and lo and behold, I could actually concentrate on one thing at a time without a whole bunch of thoughts running through my head. I began to read, and I didn’t have to keep going back and re-reading pages because I’d missed words out.

I felt calmer in myself and my organisational skills increased tenfold. Two thirds of the way into the programme, I completed three assignments for an employment management course and I was amazed when my wife proofread them and asked me if I’d copied them out of a book

I’d been learning Welsh for four years before the programme but each lesson felt like groundhog day because I couldn’t remember what I’d learnt the week before. After Dore, I found that I could remember words and recognise them both verbally and written. I’ve since passed both my Welsh exams.

Rather than fear academic challenges now, I actually enjoy them! The programme has improved the quality of my life in all areas.”

“I feel like I’m on a level playing field – I no longer feel that everyone else is better than me.”
John Burns.

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