Why Fidget Spinners are not a toy: lets talk about accommodations for kids with learning disabilities.

I am who I am and you are you, we are different and that is okay. 

I have a learning disability and the best way I can explain it to people is that my mind works different than others and sometimes I need things to help me keep up. This post is a talk about all things I’ve used and the frustration that comes along with it. Read to find out more.

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I was in my economics class having to wait for the test to be passed out before I could leave. Usually I would come in and the teacher would hand me the test and I would go down to the room, no hassle. This time I had to awkwardly wait and then get embarrassed when I got up to leave, after the teacher nodded at me. The guy behind me tapped me on the shoulder as I got my bag ready, “why do you get to leave?” I told him “I need a quiet place, I get easily distracted, also I get my test read to me.” His answer was “I get distracted, why can’t I leave?” I was 11th grade, 17 years old, and knew exactly why and how I got those things said, “I have an IEP and I got tested, did you?” and walked right out.

This moment has stayed with me and re-plays in my mind when I come across similar situations. Like, fidget spinners; they are a popular thing that everyone’s selling, marketing, and treating like a toy, when fidget spinners are to help kids, like myself, to focus. It gives kids something to play with. It upsets me; so naturally, I’m going to write about it. And instead of going on a RANT I’m going to inform you about what I used to accommodate myself to succeed in school and in life.

  • Fidget ball: I got a fidget ball to play with in 1st grade. I remember sitting in reading time, legs folded up, ball in the middle. Playing with and being told I wasn’t supposed to show anyone or it would be taken away. I made sure of it. This helped me “fidget” around, get my nervous energy, or my energy somewhere while I could listen to the teacher. Even when I wasn’t looking or doodling in my notebook I still was listening. Being able to have that ball helped me; it wasn’t a toy.
  • Taking tests in a different room: I already mentioned the story about how I was asked by a student why I got to take my test in a different room than him. And I will say I never used it to my advantage, I always played by the rules. And even when taking a test in a different room it didn’t guarantee I passed the exam. I would love to show you my English syntax test. Taking a test in a room by myself helps me focus because there are no distractions I am able to feel a little at ease and read the exam out loud and talk out loud to myself.
  • Books on tape and/or having the test read to me: There were a couple of times in middle school that I would have the test read to me. Plus, I would get books on tape, or I would have my computer talk to me; I still do. Because I can easily misread or write the wrong word. I’m sure you have noticed that I will use the word “there” when I meant to type “their.” I just can’t see it or hear the difference. And sometimes I could read a word but it would be spelled wrong. And I WON”T SEE IT!
  • Notetaker/recorder/copy of notes: In college the one thing that was offered to me was a note taker, someone who would take the notes for me and/or I would get a copy of their notes so I wouldn’t miss anything. In high school, the teacher would give me their PowerPoint before class, or give me their notes, which was really handy. This was more for me to catch if I wrote down the wrong word and also for my comprehension.
  • Extra time on a test: I got either 20-30 minutes extra for tests so I wouldn’t feel rushed and could take my time. I know others can easily get test anxiety so I never took this for granted. Sometimes just having the extra time made me take my time. I did the extra things I needed to do to pass the test, like reading it out loud. I always felt guilt if I ended the exam early because I had the extra time.
  • Spellcheckers: Spelling is not my best, and yes I see the irony. But because I have dealt with this my whole life I work hard on my spelling. Checking it over and over; thank God for spell check. Yet, it isn’t enough. I use programs like Grammery or I have a handheld device where I type a word and it finds similar words I might want to use. And I create a cheat sheet of common words I misspell and how they really are spelled.
  • Smartpen: I had a few smartpens to write my notes and record what the teacher said. It was handy because the words I wrote down in the moment can play what was said at the time so if I missed something it was recorded. Also could put it on my computer.

And a lot more little things as well…

If people, like the kid behind me in my economics class, thinks having these things is a privilege they are 100% wrong. I needed these things, they weren’t something I took for granted, I used them to help me succeed. And even when I got to take my test in a different room I still had to know the stuff. I still failed some tests. The frustration is real, the hurt is real, and the unfairness or backlash I get is so unbelievable.

Having a learning disability means I just work differently than you and while learning I needed a few things to help me in the education system. I’m glad I get to talk about having a learning disability on here, so please let me know if you have any comments.  I was inspired to write this because of the fab with fidget spinners.

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Let’s talk about mental health: a guide to getting yourself through.

I know it’s not mental health month anymore so I’m behind but I didn’t know if I wanted to write this or how I wanted to write this.

We all have our own mental health story but we all feel the same way towards it (maybe I don’t want to put anything on anyway);we don’t feel like ourselves, we feel silly after and seem crazy. But we aren’t. I never saw my mental health as an issue and personally, I never really talked about it cause I don’t want pity. So I would just brush it off like saying “i’m fine” and giving people nothing when they ask why. But here it is.

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I never realize I had mental health and need to take care of myself until I had a year that I call my dark time. Then I realize this was something I’ve been going through my whole life and needed not only take care of but also understand and know I have no shame towards it. For me, I have anxiety and depression. Also, my brain gets best of me and I have trouble handling things that lead to extreme outburst and panic attacks. And lately, my mental health has been challenged. So, I’ve been having more bad days and moments than good. Which is hard cause it not only reminds me of that dark time but also I know I’m a strong person and know what I can do; yet it seems to not be enough; the bad still keeps hitting me.

I’ve had two major moments where my mental health was at its worst at 10 years old and at 21. I’ve seen the worst, I have memories and feelings that come to me; reminding me. I know where bad is and I know how to get through it but also where I never want to end up. To make sure I don’t end up back in a “dark time” I do things, I keep myself motivated and filled with positives, I fuck the negativity and sometimes that included people and I have the BEST mother in the WORLD. I’ve tried therapy but my personality just didn’t fit. What do I do then? Well I created a list that I hope may help someone else who is going through some bad days, dark days. Below. Remember: you are strong & beautiful.

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How to get out of them is easier said than done but here is a list of things I do to get myself feeling better or good again.

List of things to do to help you through:

  • Take walks or get out of the house. Getting out of the house, getting some fresh air is the perfect way to have some time. Remember to breath in & out.
  • Disconnect from social media and your phone. Don’t look at phone especially if you wake up and you feel it’s going to be one of those days walk away from the phone
  • Do something that makes you feel good. Even if it’s taking a shower or brushing your hair.
  • Read more. I think grabbing that good book really can be a good distracting and let yourself go into a different world
  • Write. Either its dear diary scribbles on side of notes, or writing a story. Writing down can get those thoughts out of your head.
  • Go into your own little world. Put on the noise cancel headphones and listen to those songs that fill you with joy and happiness.
  • Take your camera and go chase some sunsets. Like the first one; I think the best way to get going especially when you feel it coming is to go on an adventure and take some pictures
  • Lay down. When I hit that point of a breakdown; my best thing I  do is just sit in my tub. ITs weird, I honestly sit there with my clothes on and just talk to myself. Like taking a relaxing bath just no water or clothes.
  • Workout. A lot of the time my energy is built up and I need to let it out so I work out.
  • Hang out with the people that know you and can really be there for you.
  • Take the evening to relax. Have one of those me time nights. Put on a face mask, some Gilmore Girls; keep your phone away, and just enjoy a relaxing night in.
  • Sleep and repeat.

These are things I do before the ‘storm’ during the storm, and after the storm; it really depends on how I’m feeling and what is going to be helpful in that moment. I know I’m the person when someone tells me “oh you’ll get over it” or anything that isn’t helpful just makes it worst. This list is a suggestion, some things you might not have tried and could work for you.  A lot of times you do (I do at least) feel silly cause after the storm you feel fine like what happen wasn’t even necessary. But, don’t feel stupid because what you went through and going through was necessary to get to the rainbow!

Mental health is a battle; sometimes it takes a day, sometimes it lasts a whole week. But keep going and try different things; don’t put yourself in a situation that are going to negatively affect you. And if something isn’t working, drop it and walk away. You may not feel like yourself but you’ll soon feel like yourself or a total new person!Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

I find with blogging and being open like this I’m helping that little girl who didn’t understand what was going on in her head or that 20 something girl who needs to know someone out there understands. Talking about mental health breaks the stigma. What someone is going through is there’s. Reminder: you don’t know what someone is going through.  A lot of time people can say “they understand” when they really don’t. What we need to do is talk about them, be there for our friends and loved ones; to not run away but to be there, show support cause when they talk to you they don’t want pity what they want is to talk.   For the girls (&boys) going through the battle of mental health remember that you are strong every day!

I’m no professional I’m a girl who’s living and getting by with a war in her mind (did that rhyme that felt like it rhymed)

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Disclaimer: I’m no way an expert, I never learned this in school, I’m not educated. Terms idk. And I’m taking from my perspective, what my mental health is and what I do. There is more to mental health then what I talking about. If you or someone you know are struggling with depression, mental illness, or suicidal thoughts, please reach out—to family, friends, mental health professionals, or crisis workers. In the United States and Canada, you can call the 24-hour, toll-free National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

What its like having a learning disability as an adult.

What it’s like to have a learning disability as an adult going into the real world. 

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If you want to know about what its like having a learning disability I talked about it in a blog post here.  In this post I am going to talk about the struggles you face as an adult going into the working world with a learning disability. Because here I am with my difficulties I am writing a blog, got my masters in creative writing and trying to go into a career that has writing into it.

Being able to do that despite my difficulties really shows my character but I also hope it will shows others with or without a learning disability that even having these difficulties doesn’t mean you can’t do anything. You just work differently. You have other strengths and have extreme worth ethic.  A lot of time when working or when asked to do a job; we question ourselves if we can do it? We know what are challenges are, we worry about failing, but we say yes anyways. Because we learned to not only accept it but we know despite it we can do anything. However, there are times where we face it and we feel it all.

Once again at you and your sitting there trying your hardest to overcome it, to fight it, to succeed but its not enough.

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Those times come a lot when you get something back and it says “your spelling and grammar” or sometimes it can feel like everyone is telling you should know this when really you can’t–I have had MANY people tell me well your an English major you should know how to spell. And just cause it is called a learning disability it effects you outside of school too. Which makes it harder because now your face with new challenges all on your own-there is no IEP, no teacher, no resources. Just you.

You are struggling to write that e-mail. You’re faced with having someone spell their name but you keep hearing similar sounds. Your reading the requirements of a position and all you see is your difficulties.  You just want to tell people “Hey I have —” but not make it sound like an excuse but for them to understand you work differently.

As someone who writes and wants to go in a career that has writing in it and my grammar is not that great. It’s hard, because does that mean I don’t get the job. And this has always been my challenge that I not only had to work twice as hard but it’s something I have to fight towards others and show even though I can’t spell worth shit I have endless ideas because of my ADHD.

People with learning disabilities have had these challenges their whole life and fighting gets tiring a lot of the time because all we want is that career. And I think the most hard part is that having a learning disability isn’t visible. There is no red arrow above pointing at you. We are look like everyone else but our brains are different–so when we are faced with our challenges others  may see “are they stupid”. Sometimes

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Remember this: you have other skills that make you a strong key person to have for the job.

This has been ‘real’ for me my whole life. I have accepted my learning disability but here I am wanting  career that deals with writing maybe even visual communications despite my learning disability. Because I want it–and that drive will get me places. And the question I want to now ask everyone else is can you accept it? Can you accept someone with a learning disability? Can you not question them for writing the wrong their? Can you see how hard they work to succeed? Can you see their flaws are not flaws at all? Because someone with a learning disability needs the outside world to see how despite their challenges they can do the job. Maybe even harder then someone who hasn’t dealt with a learning disability all their life?

Note: Having a learning disability has other aspects including emotionally and mentally which I would love to talk more but I felt the focus of this was more on having ADHD & APD in the working/adult world.

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P.S if something is spelled wrong on here, I decided not to do the extra mile to emphasis more on how my learning disabilities effect and challenge me. It’s a metaphor. 

Life with learning disabilities.

 

I have written a post referring to my learning disabilities but I don’t think I have ever written a post about having to live with one. Because even referring to it as “learning” there are related things that affect how you function, how you comprehend, and how you handle things in everyday life.

Now if you didn’t know I have two disabilities; I have ADHD and auto processing disorder (meaning I can’t distinguish between certain sounds). I like to say I have double of everything- double being over whelmed, double short focus skills, double struggling with comprehension, and pronunciation. So that’s what I have and now after years of being so confused, and trying to understand what it was, how to tell people, how to apply myself, ask for accommodations in my courses, and to be okay with them. I have realized how to deal with my disabilities. Because they will never go away, they are a part of you and the sooner you accept that the faster you can just be you.

So here it is how someone lives with a learning disability from MY perspective….

Explaining to people….

First off, telling people leads to a lot of questions because most people are curious about my disability and surprised that I could have them. But in a few rare cases a lot of people can easily be judgmental. Or they tell me that they have one too and if they could do it then I can do it; or they felt that if I get to take my test in another room why can’t they? I just say  everyone is different.

The hardest part in telling people that you have a disability is making it sound like you are giving an excuse,  when really you aren’t. You’re telling them well my brain works different than yours. I do things differently than you (even if you have an L.D too). I never used it as an excuse; I never too advantage of my accommodations, and I try my hardest to overcome the obstacles that they through at me. And I like when people can see that instead of being critical.

I never use to tell people about the disabilities. I never use to write about them and now I can’t stop; and think that not only helped me accept them but also embrace them.

Social skills…

 Another difficulty is dealing with people because you can easily get frustrated, and they can easily get frustrated. You can easily appear to be too straight forward.  You can get easily overwhelmed in situations that seem so normal- small places and loud noises can get to you. So while others are in the coffee shop having a conversation you may be sitting in the corner trying to act normal when really you can’t sit still, fighting the urge to put your hands over your ears to block out all noises while you try to do things.

The story I tell people is about years ago shopping at MOA in the old Forever 21. It was large (not as large as it now) and it was messy, everything was everywhere and it could get overwhelming. I was getting frustrated that I wasn’t finding what I wanted, people kept crowding around me, and others’ opinions weren’t helping. My sister sat me down and told me to stay as she went and picked things out. I was probably around 16, unconfident, unaware, unsure of not only who I was but also what was going on in my head. It was really comforting that I had my sister there to understand and be my life preserver.

I think when it comes to being in the public and having to try your hardest to get over your struggles it is not only embracing but makes you feel vulnerable. I don’t like to seem vulnerable, but over the years I have come to terms to let people see how I can overcome my disabilities. Some people can’t handle it, which is alright. It can be hard to grasp yet I think that shows more about them than you.

Being different….

 This world is not designed for everyone; it’s designed for the average- if you fit on that average scale good for you, if you succeed even better. However, if you are under that line, you’re looked down on because you show how you do not function the way the world is built also to them you’re not going anywhere. But in reality you’re the biggest threat because you have more drive and will power to go places.

We say being different isn’t a bad thing yet when you are different there are always those negative, judgmental comments that make you feel like you can’t even be different that different has a standard as well. And it’s hipster.

So your brain works differently, so you see things differently, so you have to do things differently. That doesn’t make you different that makes you, you.

You are human….

This can easily be forgotten, especially for me, since I have these challenges I am always really determined to get through my challenging moments. And I’ve learned to tell myself and others that I am human, I am my own person and I have my limits. I have the right to be who I am.  You are not superhuman.

If you are like me and have many challenges you have to face and want to show you can do anything, but sometimes you can’t and that’s hard to grasp, for your own sake it’s best that you don’t overload yourself.

Conclusion…..

You are who you are, disability and all. It’s who you are- and if you can’t see that and embrace it well you are going to have a hard time, not only to control it but to overcome it. People are going to see what they want in you, but, ignore them and know that they don’t know everything.

You are you not what the L.D defines you as.

xox

Kole

 

 

Library Story: to an insight of some with ADHD

 
 
I venture off to the other side of the library with the bright furniture and unnatural lighting. It is much quieter but my nerves begin to sharpen, because I worry the people will know this isn’t my usual sitting area. I am the stranger trying to sit in someone else’s spot. I do a loop around, unable to actually get the motivation to sit down. Suddenly I am walking back in the direction of the window room and to my usual spot. I FAILED, and an even bigger failure since I chose to write this instead of doing my homework.
For the whole school year I have been sitting in the large window room, with its dark wooden tables and the long walk way to the bathroom, passing all sorts of people in the library. On 2-Q to be exactly, which is not where the English section is but there are a variety of options of future husbands so I stay on the second floor.  I sit in the front, closer to the window, further from the bathroom; so it’s a very long, daunting walk through the room if you need to get there. I walk down the run-way, worrying that there may be something on my butt. Feeling uneasy, as eyes come up from their studies to look at me. Someone is just walking by on her way to the bathroom; nothing to see here.
I’ve sat on the other side of the library. But, I didn’t focus much, and I had worried about my computer dying, since it is already low on power. Sitting there typing, trying to get the assignment done but my eyes can’t help focusing on the little image of a battery as the percentage goes down to 35, to 20, and then, oh crap; it’s going to die!
As I get back, there are more and more people coming into the room, more and more people decide to sit around me. And as more people begin to fill up the large window room the knot in my chest gets tighter. There is a room on the first floor where I could sit; there will be less distractions, quieter, less people, but it’s a small room with no windows. It reminds me of a room where you go for taking tests; where you just want to be with the other kids. I sit there, trying to focus, trying to do things, trying to keep my eyes on the computer screen and stop my fingers from choosing those quick links to what could lead to an half hour of scrolling through instagram. I hide my phone, hoping that will be enough to stop the distraction, but hearing the ding that indicates that I got mail is too big of an urge for me to look at my phone.  And as I turn around, noticing all the people sitting nearby, hearing even the smallest noises is becoming even more distracting. I am more overwhelmed, more frantic, and my inability to focus has become apparent.
I quickly go outside, because my tummy is rumbling and the fresh air will do me good, but there are more people, more voices, and it’s just becoming too overwhelming. So I run back up stairs with my 1.20 muffin and sit down. I don’t put on the headphones because my head needs a break, but soon a new wave of rustling begins and people’s voices begin to echo in my head. I put the headphones on and switch them to green muffling sounds.
Thinking to myself, thanks dad for the headphones, they’re helping me a lot.
And tomorrow I am going to sit in someone else’s spot.

This is just a little story I wrote from my personal experience. I thought it is shows what it’s like for people with ADHD and maybe that guy in high school who’s name I know, but will not mention, will now understand why I was the person that got to go to a different room and not him.