How it feels as a teenager with dyslexia. Plus dyslexia tips from an expert artwork
Teenage Kicks Podcast

How it feels as a teenager with dyslexia. Plus dyslexia tips from an expert

  • S2E31
  • 53:27
  • March 23rd 2021

Today Helen Wills talks to teacher and tuition coach Jemma about her experiences of undiagnosed dyslexia through her teenage years.

Also on the podcast is Karen Hautz, a learning coach who provides counselling and skills-based coaching for adults and teenagers with dyslexia. She gives some wonderful tips about how to understand and support someone with dyslexia,

Jemma was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of 19, but spent her school years struggling to understand why everything felt so much harder for her to achieve than it did for her friends.

We talk about the strategies she taught herself to get through school – and they worked! She got 9A*s and 2As at GCSE.

But she found the less structured learning at university difficult to cope with until she got her diagnosis, and finally learned techniques to manage her dyslexia.

Karen's message

Dyslexic people are often particularly good at being able to see the 'big picture' in any situation.  They may demonstrate lateral thinking and problem solving. They may make creative leaps of thought which gives them an innovative approach to a subject.  Some demonstrate strong visualisation skills. Others are imaginative and inventive in their approach to their work.  Others again show entrepreneurial flair. 

Understanding dyslexia

Helen Wills says:

I absolutely loved discovering more about how dyslexic people think and work, and there are so many tips in the conversation for families who might be worrying about a child with dyslexia, or indeed an adult in the process of diagnosis.

More support with dyslexia

Useful books on dyslexia

Websites that help with dyslexia

Where to find Jemma and Karen

Jemma Zoe Smith graduated from Oriel College at Oxford University in 2013, having studied her BSc and Master’s degree in Biochemistry. She returned to Oxford University in 2017 to gain her teacher training qualification.She now runs tuition agency The Education Hotel. Instagram.

Karen Hautz provides counselling support and skills-based coaching for adults and teenagers with dyslexia, autism and AD(H)D online and at her London office and works closely with parents and liaises with schools also.  

Find out more about Karen’s work at or call her for a free, informal 20 minute telephone chat on 07391698517 

More teenage parenting tips from Helen Wills:

There are lots more episodes of the Teenage Kicks podcast. You can email me on [email protected]. I’ve also got some posts on the blog that might help parents with other teenage parenting dilemmas, so do pop over to Actually Mummy if you fancy a read.

Thank you so much for listening! Subscribe now to the Teenage Kicks podcast to hear all my new episodes. I'll be talking to some fabulous guests about difficult things that happened to them as teenagers - including losing a parent, becoming a young carer, and being hospitalised with mental health problems - and how they overcame things to move on with their lives.

You can also find more from Helen Wills on parenting teenagers on Instagram and Twitter @iamhelenwills.

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Please note that Helen Wills is not a medical expert, and nothing in the podcast should be taken as medical advice. If you're worried about a teenager, please seek support from a medical professional.

Teenage Kicks Podcast

Welcome to the Teenage Kicks podcast, where we take the fear out of parenting - or becoming - a teenager. The internet is full of parenting advice, from when you feel those first baby kicks, until they reach secondary school. And then it stops. No one is talking about teen parenting problems; so we’re going to.

Essential listening for teenagers and their parents, as well as those who work with young adults; Teenage Kicks has teen mental health at its core, and each episode will empower young people to tackle their own problems, and give parents the guidance to know how to help them.

Each week Helen speaks to real individuals who've experienced the issues that young people are dealing with now, and they don't sugar-coat it. From exam nerves and career worries to issues around sexuality and consent, we get tips and advice from expert guests who understand what it’s like to be a teenager today.

Helen will also be chatting about tough teenage problems like cyberbullying and self-harm, drugs, alcohol and teenage pregnancy, all with a heavy dose of reality from someone who's been there and made it through to the other side.

Teenage Kicks for Parents:

As parents, we understand some of our kids’ struggles, but let’s face it, it’s been a while, and things have moved on since we last panicked over a detention! Teenage choices today can seem alien to their parents because teenage life has changed so dramatically since we were young. Teenage Kicks helps you unravel topics like social media, sexting and teen self-esteem so that you can figure out what your child needs support with, and what’s just normal teenage behaviour.


Teenage Kicks for Teens:

Teenagers and parents come at things from different angles, we know. But teenage life can be challenging, and the support of your parents can make navigating tricky dilemmas easier. Teenage Kicks guests aren’t adults who’ve read a textbook; nor are they heavily invested in your day-to-day safety, like your mum and dad. They are real people who’ve been through what you’re dealing with, and they have the inspiration and advice you need to handle it yourself.

Join Helen each week as she chats to a different guest about topics affecting teenagers in 2020, and helps parents and teens to open up a dialogue that will make life easier to navigate on all sides.

You'll also find me chatting about teen parenting here:

Useful websites:

  • The Mix - good information for under 25's
  • Shout - for anyone struggling with anxiety or depression

This series of the Teenage Kicks Podcast is sponsored by Blue Microphones, who gave me the fabulous Yeticaster mic for all my recordings. It's really straightforward to use, and gives me great sound quality without too much editing.


Support Us

Thank you so much for supporting me! I absolutely love creating this podcast, and helping people share stories that bring so much reassurance to families going through the same things as them. Every donation helps me keep making this free content for my listeners. I really do appreciate every listen and every review too!