Sandra was born in Liverpool in 1960, her father is from Somalia and her mother is Irish. Sandra didn't discover she was dyslexic until she was 40 years-old. She now works as an additional learning support lecturer in the College of North East London. Her speciality is ICT dyslexia support using assistive technologies and her expertise in this area is enhanced by her own experience of dyslexia. Sandra also works in a similar role at Wimbledon School of Art.
‘I was a loner as a child,’ says Sandra. ‘I didn't play with anybody, not even my sisters. People thought I was stupid. I didn't talk to anyone.'
Sandra ended up in a special needs school: 'I had to go and see a teacher to teach me to read. The books were so basic for me at the age of 15: Peter and Jane, Ladybird books! I never learnt to read or write. I didn't do any writing. I got an 'O' level in Art and went off to Art School.'
Asked to describe her dyslexia Sandra says: 'It's like being on the outside of a secret club. What annoys me most about my dyslexia is that it's like being given a cup. It's in my hand, but the contents are trickling out. I can't control the information. most people can go back to the full cup, but for me the cup is empty! Short-term memory is a severe problem. You either have dyslexia or you don't, but there are degrees. for some it's like a cut. You put salt in it and it hurts. Mine is like a gash, so I need to put a big bandage on it!'
The condition affected Sandra's working life: 'At work I was told I was stupid. I remember bringing 'The Voice' in one day and was told: 'What are you bringing that in for? You can't read!' But I could read, when I really wanted to. At that time it had poems in and I felt good reading them.'