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Do you have a dream that you are awaiting to fulfill? Or are you consistently struggling to achieve a goal? Do you feel like you are making no progress despite all your hard work like you are spinning in a circle? If you answered yes to these three questions, then this blog is for you!
The Journey to Success is not easy, believe me! I have struggled and jumped over so many hurdles to get where I am in life. My learning disability is my strength, not my weakness. There is a stigma that those with special needs are weak and limited to their ability. I want to let you know there are #nolimits to what we can achieve!
Join me on this journey to success! I want to share with you, my personal stories of inspiration and motivation that helped me to overcome the challenges I have faced. Your special needs may be different than mine but you do not have to overcome the challenges alone. We are on this journey together!
Written by: Narley Karikari
I didn’t know I had dyslexia until my 4th grade teacher gently pointed it out to me one day. He called me to his desk after class and showed me my creative essay I submitted the week before. It was almost completely covered with red pen marks. He told me that my essay was very creative but my words were “interestingly arranged”. He told me he also had Dyslexia and reckoned we had something in common. It took me a minute to understand that he was telling me I had a learning disability, then another minute to grasp what word he just said. I knew I had issues with telling the time & spelling but I figured every kid did. At that age, I didn’t know how to react – I knew I wasn’t stupid, but I suddenly felt misunderstood and slightly victimized by this word that I couldn’t even spell.
Ultimately, I kept my learning disability to myself – never admitting to my family or seeking help for it. I just wanted to fit in.
Dyslexia & I would go on to have an interesting relationship. It would often catch me off guard and embarrass me in public. I would flip my B’s & D’s, Q’s & G’s, and if it was 2:45pm, I would say it was 2:54pm confidently then apologize and correct myself. Having Dyslexia can be really confusing; you second guess yourself a lot and it makes you feel as though you’re slower than you actually are.
My teacher gave me some sound advice on Dyslexia as the semester went on. He told me to not blame myself, to slow down when reading, be patient and to know that my brain was wired differently but not incorrectly.
With time, I trained my brain to slow down, pause and double check everything I saw or wrote. I eventually learned to befriend Dyslexia and make light of it. “Dyslexics Untie!” is my favorite one-liner (Untie should really be Unite). As I grew up, my Dyslexia became less aggressive, still embarrassing but not so noticeable. Friends have pointed it out even in my 20’s, which is always uncomfortable but I’ve grown to feel that my Dyslexia just adds to my quirks!
I realized there must be others with more severe cases so I started to do some research on my learning disability to better understand it and accept it.
This is what I learned:
Dyslexia is neurobiological in origin and is a specific reading disability due to a defect in the brain's processing of graphic symbols. It is a learning disability that alters the way the brain processes written material and is typically characterized by difficulties in word recognition, spelling, and decoding.
The International Dyslexia Foundation states that between 15% and 20% of the North American population have a language-based learning disability, Dyslexia being the most common of these. That means 1 in every 5 people are dyslexic!
There has been over 30 years of documented, scientific evidence and research proving the existence of Dyslexia. It is one of the most common learning disabilities to affect children, most cases start as early as 5 years old.
Severity varies, but the condition often becomes apparent when someone starts learning to read. Dyslexia is also regarded as hereditary.
Dyslexia is not a visual problem.- Dyslexia has nothing to do with your eye sight like many believe This was proven inaccurate by a study by Professor Vellutino from the University at Albany. He asked dyslexic and non-dyslexic students to reproduce a series of Hebrew letters that none of them had ever seen before. The dyslexic students were able to perform the task just as accurately as the non-dyslexic students, showing that their dyslexia did not affect their eye sight.
Contrary to popular belief, the core problem in dyslexia is not reversing letters (although it can be an big indicator which it was for me). Rather, the difficulty lies in interpreting the sounds in words (the phonological sound component of language) and then matching those individual sounds to the letters and combinations of letters in order to read and spell.
It’s a lifelong disability but you can find help. - Left untreated, dyslexia may lead to low self-esteem, behavior problems, anxiety, aggression, and withdrawal from friends, parents and teachers.
While dyslexia is a lifelong learning disability, early and effective intervention can help an individual keep-up and retain his/her grade level in school and build confidence.
Other helpful strategies for people with dyslexia are:
- extra time to practice reading
- Read aloud to build reading accuracy, speed and expression
- Connect with trained tutors
- Getting reading assignments in audio formats
- Join a support group
- seek an IEP if Dyslexic characteristics worsen (Individual Education Plan)
Dyslexia and intelligence are NOT connected. -Research has shown that people with Dyslexia are rather gifted in a more creative, abstract-thinking way. I couldn’t agree more; I’ve always been talented in the arts and as a kid I was oddly very gifted at word search puzzles, completing them in minutes.
Steve Jobs, Einstein, Leonardo Divinci & Steven Spielberg are famous dyslexic! Although we may not excel at finely detailed tasks, we are excellent at big picture thinking and tasks that require creativity and innovation.
If you know anyone with Dyslexia, do not to criticize or make fun of them. Understand that we are trying very hard to not let it show. My journey with Dyslexia has changed my view on what it means to have a learning disability. Individuals who learn, read, hear, speak, interpret differently or slower are valuable and have many other beautiful gifts seemingly because of their learning disability.
Dyslexia is a complex learning disability that affects thousands, if not millions, of young & old people but it is not to be feared or condemned.
I believe there’s a genius and a gift in every intellectual “flaw” one might have if parents, teachers & society just look at little closer, have patience, learn to adjust, and think outside of the box.
Many successful people refuse to let Dyslexia stop them from realizing their dreams, and instead turn it into their superpower!
Untie, or Unite, Dyslexia is real, it matters, and you can still thrive in life with it!
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I am sorry. I have been MIA for the last few weeks and I bet you are wondering what happened. There has been a lot of change on my end, and no matter how hard I tried to prepare ahead of time there were a few hiccups along the way. Don’t worry, everything is settling down and I am feeling so positive about the future.
I will give you the scoop. The last two weekends in April I had back to back speaking engagements. I was speaking at the Ontario National Alliance of Black Student Educators (ONABSE) annual conference and just this weekend I was in Kingston, Ontario delivering a keynote speak at the Speak Up 4 Ability forum by the Learning Disability Association of Kingston. In between all these events, I was moving and battling a cold.
The themes of transition and changed were huge topics in both of my presentations. I cannot stress enough the importance of helping and preparing students who are transitioning into post-secondary education. The process to receive help and support for students with LD is a whole new ball game and if you are not prepared for the change you may strike out.
If you are joining me, now on this journey you may want to go back and read my story. I was one of those students who had a difficult time in university a major reason was because I had a learning disability and I did not know how or where to get help on campus.
IEP/ IPP do not transfer over into college and university. Upon walking on campus, students need to learn to raise their voice and be their own advocate in order to get the support and accommodations they are entitled to. Yes, entitled it is not a choice it is students right. Any student with a disability has the right to a barrier-free education and it is the colleges and universities duties to ensure students succeed in their studies with no barriers. However, this only happens when students speak up and start advocating for themselves. No mom and dad cannot be your voice, you have to speak up for yourself.
If you will be starting college or university this fall, here are a few tips to help you get off to a great start this fall.
1. Do not wait to visit the student disability service centre.
If you have been identified as having a learning disability, or ADHD and have an IEP/ IPP go to campus and speak to someone at the disability service centre. Explain to them that you will be starting school in the fall (or whatever semester) and you have been receiving accommodations and support in high school and want to know how to get the same support in post-secondary? The exact question you need to ask and the person should instantly guide you through the process.
2. ‘I can do it on my own.’
Do not get caught up in this mind trap and think you can solve or handle your problems on your own. Everyone needs a team to help them reach the top. Do not wait until it is too late. Ask questions, ask for help. Be in constant communication with those around you wanting to support you. Do not go MIA and think you can handle it on your own because if you could it would have been dealt with by now.
3. Plan Your Study/ work schedule for the semester
You cannot be mad at the results you did not earn if you did not put in the effort. College and University schedules can be hectic, regardless it is important to prepare and plan your study schedule. A simple 15 minutes of reviewing notes daily will add up the time exam season rolls around. Do not wait until the last minute to cram, study or write an assignment (studies have shown that you are less productive this way.) If you want tips on studying ASAP science does a great job at breaking it down.
4. Progress not perfection
Life is a journey. We are going to learn lessons along the way. You may not get it right on the first try but do not get discouraged and give up. Focus on making progress, not perfection. As long as you keep moving forward you will excel.
While change is unavoidable, we can help to minimize the stress associated with transitioning. You are in control of your destiny and there are no limits to what you can achieve.
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Many believe Valentine’s is just another commercial holiday, a way for people to go out and spend money as a means of expressing their love to others. For me growing up, the day was just a family celebration, where we made the time to have a nice home cook meal together and enjoy one another’s company. As I grew older I realized that love has many different meanings, which cannot always be captured in a hallmark card. Over the past few years, I have taken the time not only to show my family how I appreciate and love them but recently extended my display of affection to my friends. Although I never received a dozen rose, I have always had a happy valentine’s day regardless. But one year, I realized that I had forgotten to show the most important person in my life love.
When is the last time you showed yourself some Self-Love?
Love comes in many different forms, and while love is love, self-love is important and we should be showing ourselves some T.L.C every day. So what is self-love and why is it important? Allow me to create an illustration with an analogy that was recently given to me.
Imagine two individuals are holding a candle. Both individuals want to light the other person’s candle to give them light and make them happy. The only problem is their own flame is not light. How can we expect to light someone else candle if our own flame is not lite? How do you expect to love someone else, if we haven’t taken care of our needs?
Self-love is the act of taking care of our own well-being and happiness. It is the need proceed of being selfish before we can be selfless to others especially those we love. We need to learn to be selfish first before we can be selfless.
You are probably wondering what love, emotions, and self-love have to do with education and learning disabilities. At first, I didn’t make the connection but after going and growing through my experience I realized it is a critical part of the journey of success.
Most individuals with the learning disability are diagnosed at a young age. The challenges students may encounter with their LD can impact their self-esteem and self-confidence from young and continue as an adult. Children build their self-esteem by comparing their abilities with their peers. A student with dyslexia is likely to internalize their problems in reading as a personal attribute and will avoid reading activities. In my cases, I have always been self-cautious about my writing abilities. I would encounter mental blocks of self-doubt, overthinking situations to the point that I would not write a sentence. (Starting this blog has been an emotional challenge). These negative thoughts that play through our heads as a kid continues into are adulthood and in some case for the rest of our lives.
The only way to get past these mental blocks in our head is to cast it out with self-love. I had to realize that in order to fulfill my goals for Special Compass, I had to show myself some self-love and break past my mental blocks. My learning disability is a part of me but it does not define who I am. My imperfections are what make me unique and rather than be shy and hide from them I need to embrace them. If I want to help others, I need to help myself first.
In life, we will always have good intentions to do well on to others. But we cannot lite someone else’s candle if our flame is not burning. The journey to success can be challenging and while we are here to support one another, make sure you take care of yourself first give the show some love to you.
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