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! 

LD Stories with Kat

Having a learning disability is more common than many people realize. Because learning disabilities are an “invisible” many people struggle in silence about their learning challenges. To help remind you that you are not alone on this journey, we are feature real life stories of individuals with learning disabilities. Learn their experience of how they discovered their LD, how they navigate through their challenges and how to encourage others on their journey. This week, we are featuring Kat

Get the help you need it will go a long way - even if you think its not “cool”
— Kat

Special Compass- How did you discover you had a learning disability?

Dar- The school system told my mom at a young age. I went to a specialized school for grade 2 I believe but my mom took me out of that program because we moved far from the school (she also thought I didn't need it- but I did :)

SC- Can you describe your learning disability and how it impacts you?

Kat- I have ADHD and dyslexia (dyslexia was worse when I was younger). My ADHD impacts my life in the way that I have a hard time focusing on tasks I don't like to do. Motivation is hard and I tend to be quite forgetful if I don't write it down especially dates and events in my calendar and making to-do lists.

SC- What was some of your challenges in school/ work and every day life?

Kat-What was some of your challenges in school/ work and every day life? School was especially hard for me because it was so hard to sit and listen to a teacher when I had very little interest in the subject, at a young age I gave up trying because i didn't get any help at home and that just kind of continued into high school. As a result my difficulties were, tests, assignments and low grades. For work It tends to be memory, usually for work I'm on because a) I'll get fired lol and b) I usually like what I'm doing.

Because I was diagnosed for ADHD as an adult I suffered with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety (which run hand in hand with ADHD).
— Kat

SC- What challenges did you encounter with a learning disability, and how did you overcome?

Kat-Because I was diagnosed for ADHD as an adult I suffered with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety (which run hand in hand with ADHD). I had a hard time in school and if I wanted to do well I found I had to work 3x as hard. Because motivation was low I had a hard time applying my self to life goals and completing them, even things such as cleaning the house. I over came/ cope with my ADHD by getting the help I needed and also now being off of medication due to child birth I manage it with CBT and coping strategies such as organization and routine.

SC- What is one thing people should know about people with learning disabilities?

Kat- Each and every single person is so different and learn differently. The way the school system is made up to teach all kids the same way can be defeating and unfair.

SC- What is a word of advice for a student who has the same learning disability, and is struggling to find their way?

Kat- Get the help you need it will go a long way - even if you think its not "cool"

Understanding ADHD

In a new series, we are breaking down some of the most common kinds learning disabilities . This month we are focusing on attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. ADHD is not a learning disability but many individuals with a LD also have ADHD, discover more about ADHD and its connections to learning disabilities.

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A Lesson on Self-Love

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?

Make sure your candle is lite before you lite someone else's. 

Make sure your candle is lite before you lite someone else's. 

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.   

DO's & DON'Ts When Taking The Exam

It is the final full week of October, and if you are like me you may be coming to the end of your mid-term season. Or perhaps it is just starting? Whereever you are in your academic hustle I have a few tips of DO’s and Don’ts to help you slay that grade.

DON’T- Wait Till the Last Minute to study and pull an all nighter.  

DO Plan ahead. The earlier you start studying the better. Studying is not just memorization. You want to allow your mind to develop a deep understanding and strong knowledge of the content. The ultimate test to demonstrate your comprehension is by teaching someone else.

DON’T Review your notes to the very last minute up until you are  in the exam room.

DO Allocate a grace period from studying before your exam. Allow yourself to have a minimum of two hours or twenty-four hours of non-study time before the exam.  Exams bring on a lot of anxiety in students, which can impact your performance. Give yourself time to de-stress. Do an activity you enjoy, get a good night’s rest, and have a healthy meal. To perform well you need to ensure that basic physical, mental and soulful needs are taken care of.

DON’T Come Unprepared. 

DO Have everything you need. This may seem simple but we all been in an exam where someone did not have a pencil or pen. The worst people not having calculators when permitted one. Just come prepared to execute the work all the time. By default always have a pencil and pen and an eraser .

DON’T Start answering questions

DO Read over all the questions of the exam. (Even I struggle with this from time to time) Sometimes we get so anxious that we start writing without fully understanding the question. Story: I had a Shakespeare test, where students were required to analyze a passage from Macbeth more than half the class failed this part of the test because they misunderstood the question.  Tip: ex. And i.e do not mean the same thing. Make sure you know when to follow the example or do exactly as told.

DON’T forget to write your name

DO Write your name first. Again a simple step but many students forget.

DON’T keep the information in your head.

DO Create a ‘cheat sheet’ on the back of your exam. After you written your name, and before reading the questions write down everything that you know that comes to mind in the first few minutes on the back of your exam. As you begin working and reading questions you will begin to second guess yourself on questions or just overthink your answers. Rather than stress yourself out at the moment turn your exam to the back to see the notes you had written down. Chances are the answers you need will be in front of you. This is great if you have to use quotes to support ideas or use equations to solve problems.

DON’T- Just Wing IT

DO: Have a plan on how to attack the exam.  Depending on the format of the exam you may have some sections that are worth more than others or that will require the most time out of you. Plan how much time you will take to answer questions and give yourself at least 15 minutes to review and edit if needed. 

Most important just breath and relax and give it the best you got. After all, it’s only an exam.  Think of how much fun you can have after it is all over!