Learning Disabilities

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    The Toxic atmosphere of having a disability

    Part 1 of 2 One of the most frustrating parts of having a Learning Disability isn’t the disability itself, but the atmosphere that society creates. Having one is no longer an issue for me, for I have found ways to cope. A great deal of the problem is how others view it and the toxic atmosphere that society creates.

    I was first introduced to this environment when I was diagnosed in Kindergarten. I struggled to count, write my name and tie my shoes. Right from the start people began to judge me. I had people who thought that if I really wanted to learn, that I could. Little did they know that I truly wanted to be a good student and be accepted. I had other people who thought because of the severity of the disability that I wouldn’t be successful. Neither extreme has been helpful to me.

    The early years of school created a storm academically and socially. I had to repeat Kindergarten in a different school.  I began to receive specialty instruction, and accommodations. My teachers taught me how to read, write, and attempted to teach me math. My parents never gave up on me and told me that I learned differently. They held out an umbrella and shielded me from the storm. Eventually the rain did slow down. I was able to attend regular ed science and social studies, with accommodations. I had the test read aloud to me and extended test time to help my brain process the information. Eventually I was in all regular ed classes, with supports except for math and resource. Most importantly I learned to dance in the rain a splash in the puddles.

    The social climate was cold and harsh in school. I couldn’t hide my disability in the small school district. Diversity wasn’t celebrated or accepted; it was feared. It was regarded as a close-knit community that was accepting if you were one of them. My disability caused me to be different.  Everyone I knew that I went to Learning Support for classes and accommodations. The regular ed peers thought I was getting the answers or doing easy work. I was also lumped in with my learning support peers who struggled more with reading and behavior issues. They also viewed me as not smart because I couldn’t do math. The conditions got colder as school went on. Peer groups became more defined. I didn’t feel as I fit in with any of them and I was bullied by both the popular groups and other peers’ groups as well. What helped to warm me was to hang out with peers in a neighboring town, that were part of an arts group. I found acceptance and other who shared my interests. I finally didn’t have the reputation of the outcast and the screw up that followed me all throughout my school years. I was also able to reach out and form relationships with others in the community, that didn’t go to my school. Some of those relationships are still happening 20 years later.

    During my post-secondary years, I have also found that the atmosphere of how society views disabilities isn’t always ideal. I have had people who have tried to limit what I can do with having a disability. I had a Physiatrists write that I would never go beyond a community college. I also had instructors who told me that my job and educational choices would be limited. Once again I had peers who thought that accommodations were the easy way out and declined to use them because of the stigma. Not using disability services caused my grades to drop. When I went back to university I didn’t care what other people thought and used the services. My grades improved and I made Deans list one semester. I was able to graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree.

    I have also encountered people who dismissed my disability. Part of the reason for the disbelief is that they can’t see it. I will have people tell me that I don’t look disabled. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. I’ve also had people who wanted to cure my disability through adult education programs, and positive thinking. None of those have worked for me. I have also had people who have shoved toxic positivity at me, when I shared about the difficulties having one has created. I have been told to stop complaining and that other people are more disabled that I am. Everyone with a disability will experience it differently, even if they have the same diagnosis.

    I’ve also experienced a troubled climate at work with having one. Many former employers didn’t understand that my disability was affecting my job performance. Some of them thought that I was screwing up on purpose.  I wanted to do a good job and be a productive employee, but some things I simply couldn’t do, even with accommodations. I can remember working for an agency that helped people with disabilities, but made too many clerical mistakes and was fired. The agency tried to deny my unemployment claiming willful misconduct, saying that I made the mistakes on purpose and t

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    The Toxic atmosphere of having a disability

    Part 2 of 2 ried to collect unemployment. Thankfully I have found an understanding employer, at a job that I love.

    The atmosphere for people with disabilities is something that I have no power over. I can’t change another person’s thoughts or actions. I’m responsible for my own actions and reactions. Sometimes the gloom in the atmosphere can create great beauty. When it rains while the sun is out it creates a rainbow of color that streaks over the sky. Legend has it that there is a pot of gold over the rainbow. I have not found my pot of gold yet, but I have found many treasures. I have had success in school, employment, and in my relationships. I couldn’t have done with without the support from God, family, friends, and accommodations. Using my support system and finding new ways to do things helps me to survive in an inhospitable atmosphere for people with disabilities.

    #LearningDisabilities

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    I went to a “hearing voices” group in a pub

    Signposting people to services is so important but in a society where people are being diverted from service to service, some of the most unusual places have become life-changing community hubs.

    Here are the unusual places that have become Community Hubs:

    Charity shops

    Sat in a circle, some of us propped on second hand furniture, others stood, as we all chatted, translated and discussed issues in our lives. It wasn’t a formal group, we were in the middle of a charity shop which had become a meeting point for people to shop, have a free cup of tea and sometimes even a hand to fill out certain forms.I remember trying to help an asylum seeker to fill out yet another form he had been given. Even as an English native speaker I struggled to help with some of the questions. It was hearing stories like his that spurred me into community journalism, but most of all this had just served as a taster to what I now realise have become unusual but life-saving community hubs.

    The NHS referred me to a Hearing Voices group in a pub.

    Pubs

    While public houses are struggling, their legacy remains of what such places can do for a community, from being a place to sit, chat and sup a pint mindfully to club nights for adults with learning disabilities and support groups. The NHS referred me to a Hearing Voices group which I was at first surprised to find in a pub. Henry Boons a traditional pub, blue in colour and with stunning stained glass windows which add to its Victorian frontage. Backing on to the grounds of Wakefield Prison, this public house is part of the famous Westgate Run, complete with a pool table and function room adorned with iconic beer barrels. It was here my group took place. It made a fresh change from the normal clinical surroundings which make up the interior of a mental health unit.

    We were all there as humans rather than ‘patients.’

    As I ventured into the pub with my mental health nurse to my side. I looked around nervously as I only saw a few punters sitting in the bar. It was around the back in the function room, so it was more discreet than I first thought. None of us looked like we heard voices, I guess I had only ever seen Hollywood depictions of “people like me.” But for once I was realising how we were all humans and different not because of our illnesses but because of our beautiful diversity. Pubs really can be places of connection for lots of people depending on your culture and relationship with alcohol, that is. But that’s why we need a variety of settings for such groups as we are all different.

    Places of Worship

    An increasing number are turning to their place of worship for support. Your faith leader rarely has a waiting list and has become the first port of call for many people. From housing support to counselling and food banks, they have become a one stop shop for all your needs.

    While it’s amazing that there are so many places opening up to people from all backgrounds and communities pulling together, the pressure shouldn’t be passed over to them to sort out the cost of living crisis, they should be used as alternatives rather than the main source of support because our system is struggling. Or invest a lot more money into the third sector.

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    Preparing for what is for NVLD and other Learning Disabled Students

    While there are several excellent colleges that have structured learning support programs for students with an #nvld and other #LearningDisabilities, many who could greatly benefit from these programs  get rejected from them. The current research shows a common reason for rejection is because the students don’t take enough challenging courses and their application doesn’t include enough non-academic activities. I believe one of the reasons for this is school counselors and resource room teachers  don’t think the extra pressure this puts on students is necessary which through my own personal experience I know this isn’t true.

    For example as I was starting high school I took Regents Biology and regular English and Social studies rather than the section for Resource Room students only.  I knew from our own research it was necessary to go to college with structured support. This decision was one so few could understand though I trusted myself and by working hard and staying determined I was successful. As a result I stayed in a more rigorous academic program and continued  non-academic activities so I would  have a great application for college despite having an NVLD. In addition, in the summer of 9th grade I chose to attend a summer program for students with learning disabilities.  This type of program is more important for students with all learning disabilities than most realize as it helps the program director see  that these students are committed to growing academically and socially. I understand that many programs are 5-7 weeks long and often a distance from home, however by attending students experience tremendous academic and social growth which makes attending a college with a structured support program a realistic goal.

    Each year I continued my high school career I always took a full academic program and some still had some doubts. However they disappeared faster as I could now express my reasons for this which allowed me to have great support and enjoy success. My 11th and 12th Math teacher even wrote one of my recommendations and her incredible words about me  made such a great impression as Math was very challenging for me. It was so helpful as we were told these programs like it if one of your letters of recommendations to come from an 11th grade teacher that taught you in a course that was challenging for you as it shows your commitment to overcome your Learning Disability.

    Outside of academics I decided right away one of the things I was going to do was  stay a three season runner. Like my academic courses choices, so few could understand this decision however we believed it was necessary. By not giving up, my coaches honored me with a few sportsmanship and coaches awards and these honors were great for my transcript. In fact my Dean College Arch program recommendation questionnaire was completed by my coaches and I was told more than once it was a big reason for my acceptance as it showed I  wanted to become part of the school’s community.  In addition to sports I was also always involved in Key Club and in the music program and I was blessed to receive great honors in these activities. This recognition  increased my self-esteem and  gave me the confidence I needed for college. Due to this I highly agree with the research that commitments outside of the classroom are so important too in help in the college process.

    One of the ways this path can be started is being open about your future as you start high school. This helps your school counselors and resource room teachers to have an understanding of what you are thinking and the reasoning for it. Open communication and awareness does wonders for being able to achieve success. Personally I know how true this is as my support circle knew my goals and each year we worked closely together so they could be reached.

    Overall I truly agree with the opinion that the students who would benefit the most from a structured  support program the most are the ones who are getting rejected, especially the NVLD students.

    So please encourage these students to do things like always the most challenging academic courses and have experiences outside of the classroom as I strongly believe it will allow them to attend a college with a structured program that matches their academic and social goals.

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    Aging women with autism spectrum disorder and learning disabilities need help

    What do you do when you have Autism, learning disabilities and mental health issues and can function enough to barley get by in life, but you don’t function well enough to get the help that you need to have a good life.

    How do you communicate with people when you can’t read or process what you read hear or see?

    How do you fill out paperwork?

    How do you pay your bills?

    How do you pay your taxes?

    How do you read mail?

    How do you use email?

    How do you maintain a job?

    How do you do the things that everyone else does in life when it’s absolutely impossible for you?

    How when all your services stop at age 18 and you are thrown out into the world?

    How when you have Autism and are scared of your own shadow because of the disabilities traits?

    I can’t be the only person dealing with these problems, one out of fifty four people are born with Autism spectrum disorder.

    The support I once had from family or friends has disappeared from illness and deaths and I am completely alone.

    I can not be the only persons with learning disabilities that are aging and having know idea how to get help. In fact I am sure the numbers are Staggering.

    #agingautistic #agingwithlearningdisabilities

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    Playing The Devil's Advocate When Talking About Able-Bodied People Dressing Up As Disabled People For Halloween

    In one of my previous opinion pieces I stated that people should not dress up as a disabled person during Halloween. Sometimes people dress up as disabled historical figures and don’t even realize it (and it isn’t even their own fault to some extent). That is because some famous people with invisible disabilities have done a good job of hiding their disabilities, thus giving the illusion that they are not disabled. This is where I think we shouldn’t criticize people for dressing up as historical figures that have a disability. One rule of thumb I go by is “If this person was able to get to where they are without support programs for those with their disability, would they still be successful?”. Another rule of thumb is asking,” When can you use person-first language to describe the person and also have no descriptors change”, that is the time when it is ok to not criticize others who dress up as a historical figure with a disability for Halloween. If at least 10% of all adults have an invisible disability, you are likely to find a handful of people dressed up as historical figures with learning disabilities at any Halloween event.

    Whenever people talk about Elton John, Edward Snowden, and Julius Caesar, all epileptics, their disability is almost never mentioned in the conversations about them. One could call Greta Thunberg an activist instead of an autistic activist: since anyone can memorize the amount of CO2 a sweatshop produces. One thing people in the United States don't talk about when mentioning Greta’s rise to fame and success is that she is a “nepotism baby”, even though she attributes her success to her autism. Also Elton John’s, Edward Snowden's, and Julius Caesar's epilepsy didn't get in the way of them doing their work at the height of their careers. Almost all the people dressing up as Greta Thunberg, Julius Caesar, Elton John and Edward Snowden aren't doing so to mock disabilities. In their context, those people are dressing up as famous influencers whose achievements define them more than their disability.

    However, unlike the celebrities above, you cannot separate Helen Keller from her disability while having a conversation about her. If Helen Keller didn't have a disability she would just be known as a woman with a university degree. You also cannot separate Temple Grandin from her autism when talking about her, as her autism has played a huge role in her inventions. If Temple Grandin didn't have autism, she might have just been a veterinarian instead of someone who revolutionized the way livestock are treated and cared for.

    Another problem within the Halloween costume debate is when able-bodied people treat adaptive equipment like accessories. I've heard of stories of “emotional support peacocks” and “emotional support pigs” pooping on planes, which can lead to people questioning the legitimacy of actual guide dogs. People who need adaptive equipment to do regular tasks is another situation when a person can't separate themselves from their disability, even if they are able to hold a regular job. An example is Walter White Jr from Breaking Bad. Despite the fact that his personality has a bigger influence than his physical disability in terms of his relationships with other people, he couldn't do every day tasks without his adaptive equipment.

    #InvisibleDisability

    #invisibledisabilities

    #Epilepsy

    #LearningDisability

    #LearningDisabilities

    #halloweencostume

    #Costume

    #Halloween

    #Autism

    #adaptiveequipment

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    I’m new here!

    Hi, my name is mom2my3boys (Jen). I'm here because I have 3 boys who all have anxiety, learning disabilities and the youngest has a variety of medical diagnosises. Looking for support and information and other moms to chat with.

    #MightyTogether #Anxiety #Depression #ADHD