The final episode of this season Special Compass podcast. This episode hear the story of how it all began, what propelled the founder of Special Compass to make change for other individuals with a learning disability and the important life lessons learned a long the way.Read More
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!
This week, the conversation on transition continues as we discuss the second part of change receiving. Once on the other side of change, how can we ensure students settle and adapt to their new environment successfully and effectively.
Learn why it is important to prepare students for changes in school and in life.Read More
Three Pillars of TransitionRead More
What is metacognition? and what is its importance in learning and success? Today on the Special Compass podcast we dicuss how the brain takes information and to become an effective and efficient learner.Read More
Today's episode we are discussing laws, and policies that protect and support individuals with a disability. If you are a parent and wondering what are your child's rights, a post-secondary student or just curious to learn more, this conversation is for you.Read More
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!
Advocating for a child with a learning disability can be a frustrating and overwhelming process for parents. On today's episode of the Special Compass Podcast we learn how to advocate for intent and important aspects to consider when navigating a student to success.Read More
The words we speak can have a bigger implication on others more than we realize. Mental health does not only impact adults but effects youth as well. In this episode, we discuss how youth can develop mental health issues and how we can change the statistics on such a growing epedemic.
Show notes: Episode Four
Mental Health is a growing concern in our society. According stats Canada 1 in 5 Canadians will experience mental health issues. By the time an adult reaches 40 it is expected to 1 and 2 Canadians will experience mental health issues.
Let’s work together to help change these statistics, by fostering the mindset of today’s youth.
Youth and Mental Health
· Youth experience mental health issues as well.
· Children build their self-esteem and self- concept by comparing themselves to others.
o An unhealthy perception of themselves can carry-out through development into adulthood.
· Need to help youth realize there is nothing wrong with being different. Our differences are what makes everyone unique. Variety is the spice of life.
· Words and actions from adults can have a deeper impression on youth
o A child’s mind is like wet cement. Easy to make an impression but hard to remove the imprint.
· Youth with disabilities experience mental health issues as well.
o 50% of students with disabilities are lonely
· Youth with learning disabilities are more likely to experience low self-esteem. Especially in regards to their learning challenges.
Adapting a Healthy Mindset
There are various means to helping, and supporting individuals with mental health issues, but the first step that can lead in a positive direction is to adapt a healthy mindset.
Understanding the root of the thought and changing the narrative.
· Be mindful.
o On a daily bases there are thousands of thoughts running through the human mind. Many of these thoughts are reruns.
o Being reflective of our thoughts. Understand the root of the thought and change the narrative that we tell ourselves.
o Help youth be reflective.
· People first
o Everyone has a different experience and a different story.
o Get to know the person first and let them tell you what they need not what you think they need
o Be mindful of the comments we make to ourselves and youth.
o Lead by example and guide others
· Teach Social and other required skills
o Do not assume that someone knows how
· Do not forget the support team.
o It takes a village to raise a kid, it takes a team to navigate a student to success.
o Parents, teachers, educational assistants they need support as well to
o Do not be shy. Let those around you know that you are there for support or that you need help. It can be as simple as saying:
§ How are you
§ How can I help you
§ Let’s take a break
o Throw kindness like confetti.
Inclusive Education? What is that? How to we work to create a classrooms and learning envrionrments where all students thrive? This week on the Special Compass podcast we are having a conversation about Inclusive Education.Read More
There was so much information on learning disabilities, we could not possibly fit it all in one episode. In episode two we continue the discussion on learning disabilities and understanding the various forms, symptoms, and methods of intervention to help students.
Show notes: Epsidoes One & Two -Learning Disabilities
Learning Disability Origin
- Samuel Kirk – A key psychologist in the study of learning disability. Coined the term Learning Disability.
- The study of learning disability began with multiple cases of children displaying similar symptoms to an adult who suffered a stroke but no indication of brain trauma.
- Defining learning disability a constant controversial debate. The definition haschanged multiple times over the years
Eight key components that remained consistent in various learning disability definitions:
- Subaverage Achievement
- Psychological processing problems
- Exclusion of disabling condition
- Life Span problem
- Social relation issues
- Exclusion of disabling conditions
Learning Disability defined according to the Learning Disability Association of Canada:
A number of disorders which affect the acquisition, organization, retention, understanding or the use of nonverbal or verbal communication. Included but not limited: language processing, phonological processing, visual-spatial processing, processing speed, memory and attention and executive functions. Key areas: oral language, reading, written language and mathematics
Learning Disability defined in a more simple context
Everyday people commute to work or school. Everyone will take a different route to get to their destination. If one day there is construction on that regular route you will have to take a detour to get to work or school. Regardless of the route, you take you will still get to your destination. You will just have to find a new way, it may take a bit longer but you will get there.
Learning disabled individuals, learn differently their brain literally processes information in a different way. They are still able to learn but how they process information may be at a different rate or form compared to a non-learning disabled individual.
FACTS, FIGURES, AND MYTHS
- Figures. Canadian statistics. 1- 10 Canadians or 3.3 million / stats Canada - children with a disability in Canada or 3.2 % children with LD / 1 child per school bus.
- Dropout rates, unemployment rates, and crime
- Myth: Can’t learn certain topics Fact: Have the ability to learn
- Myth: unintelligent. Fact: Average or above average intelligence
- Myth: Grow out of it Fact: lifelong condition
- Myth: all the same Fact: different severity
- Myth: cannot go to post-secondary Fact: Fully able to achieve higher education
Helping Students to Succeed.
Three pillars: Building Independence, Metacognition and learning and Support Team
- Elementary: Self- Esteem and Confidence- “learned helplessness”
- Middle School: metacognition and creativity- Operating from a mindset of abundance
- Secondary: Critical thinking and Advocacy Skills - Speaking up and using your voice
- Post-Secondary: Independence - Live your life your way
- Inclusive education a form of education where exceptional students who receive accommodations and support within the general classroom setting. Can include: coteaching, collaboration, consultation, assistants from paraprofessionals etc.
- Assistive Technology – Not a replacement of skills but to help support students.
Symptoms and Causes
- Many reasons that cause learning disability: hereditary, problems during birth
- Learning Disabilities become more prevalent during the elementary school age. Detected and diagnosed early can help implement an early intervention for student success.
- There is a discrepancy or gap kind of unusual
Various kinds of learning disability
- Effect the major components of learning
- Reading - Dyslexia is a common learning disability that impacts reading. Not all learning disabilities that are connected to reading is dyslexia.
- Phonology, decoding, fluency, comprehension
- Writing -letter formation and fluency. Its laborious, roughs strokes wide spaces
- Math -cognitive development, arithmetic performance
- Language- phonology, syntax (sentence structure), morphology, semantics ( a branch of linguistics referring to the meaning), pragmatics, metalinguistic, receptive language (difficulties understanding oral language and listening), expressive language.
- Executive functioning - memory, staying on task, intention
- Gifted and has a learning disability
- Prevent them from not reaching their full potential I.e can get a B in class but their LD is preventing them from achieving an A
- ADHD / ADD
- not a learning disability but a behaviour issue that still impedes on a student's learning
Diagnosis- The process for diagnosing a learning disability is a journey. It usually starts with a teacher or parent/ guardian suspecting there may be an issue and refers the student to a special education teacher for further assessment.
- Informal evaluation or test by special education teacher
- Observation of student
- Interviews: parents, teachers, and students
- Referral for a psychological test.
- It has to be a psycho assessment - testing various cognitive functioning process.
- Duration of test can vary in length from 4 hrs - 2 days.
- After the test is complete the psychologist will complete a report which will conclude with the diagnosis.
- The report is review by the IEP team and an IEP is created for the student
- Individual Education Plan (IEP) - IEPs are the most common term used but in some provinces, it is referred to as an IPP (Individual Program Plan). The documents serve the same purpose. Outline the learning strengths of the student, their challenges, how and where accommodations will be provided and goals to work towards for the school year.
- Working towards helping the student
- Informal evaluation or test by special education teacher
It is officially one month back into the school year. As the workload begins to build and pick up are you staying on top of your school work?Read More
October is learning disability month! What better way to kick off this month of awareness by the premiere of the Special Compass Podcast. Not your average podcast, the focus is to have an inclusive discussion, bringing more awareness and information to help all students excel in school and in life. If we want to ensure no student is left behind it's time to have an inclusive conversation.
Back to school season can be an exciting time for some student, but for others, it can be an emotional experience. Learn how to help students go back to school with ease and get back to success. #NoLearningLimitsRead More
Children with learning disabilities growing up to be adults with learning disabilities. Sometimes we can forget that the challenges individuals experience extends beyond the classroom. Miss S Rouse, creator of Special Compass opens up about her learning challenges in and outside the classroom.Read More
What words are in your vocabulary? Are you feeding positive and construcitve words to your mind. Our thoughts have a big impact on our emotions which dictates our actions. We need to learn to let go if we want to achieve successRead More
Sometimes the most challenging step is the most important step we can make.Read More
It is time we walk the talk. To create a society were diversity is truly reflected in all of us, it starts by fostering potential from young.Read More
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.
Not too many people know this part of the story..once upon a time I thought about dropping out... Thankfully I never gave up, because I had something to keep me going during tought times. What drives you?Read More