Stella Bennett

Multi-award Winning Musician 

When did you first realise that you had a different way of thinking?

I remember coming home from school when I was about 9 and telling Mum I was the worst in the class at spelling and maths. I was really sad about it because I knew that I wasn’t “dumb” . That was what started the process of being diagnosed and getting the help I needed. 

What was your experience of school?

I had a pretty good time overall at school considering how hard it was for me to read ! When you’re dyslexic reading is hard work…not relaxing like it is for lots of people .

After my first assessment I went to Jenni Wiles at Read Auckland once a week for a couple of years and learned how to break down words and sounds and caught up on some maths and comprehension.

By the time I was retested at 15,  I didn’t need a reader-writer and did well at NCEA.  

I really enjoyed sports and music and being good at those things helped me a lot I think . Having lots of good friends was important too.

How did you get involved in creative fields such as (your field) 

I learned guitar at primary school and saxophone from Year 7. I’ve always loved singing and I recorded some covers on Soundcloud..just for my friends really . These got noticed by people in the industry…and with the help of some great mentors I was able to turn it into a career.

What are the main work challenges that you have had to overcome?

My work challenges have nothing to do with my ability to read or write grammatically…I can say what I want to say however I want to say it which is so cool.

Online haters can be so cruel and everyone has something to say about your music. They don’t care that this is my form of creative expression …I put my heart and soul into it and they feel free to swipe it down with a few sentences.

What do you think are some of the positives and negatives of dyslexia?

I think that we often see the “big picture” rather than getting hung up on the details. Some of us learn visually or aurally and our brains are just as good as everyone else’s …they just work a little differently.

We have to work so hard to do things which other people find easy so it can make us more resilient and hard working.

The problem is if children don’t get diagnosed or helped in the right way they can just give up on themselves and slip further and further behind in the traditional school environment. Even at 9 , I recognised how many other kids in my class were just like me.

What advice would you give young New Zealanders who are dyslexic?

Don’t let anyone tell you what you can or cannot achieve. With the right help and with all the tools we have now like voice recognition, spell check, Grammarly, talking books , you can do whatever you want to do.

Ask for help and keep asking if you don’t get the right help! 

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