My college graduation

Today is a proud day. I was finally able to have a graduation ceremony with my family watching, it wasn’t the one I expected but I am still blessed. I never thought this day would come, I struggled so much during my high school years, I dealt with learning disablities and trauma and just graduating from high school was a feat for me.

Even though I made the effort after high school, I didn’t believe a college degree was in the cards, it seemed daunting and I didn’t have the confidence to take college courses and soon dropped out. But slowly but surely, I did take classes, I passed them and gained my confidence.

I entered a program of study that I was passionate about and I flourished. And the last semester was a really struggle; being forced to take a course that I have learning disabilities in, I must have taken this math class at least 3 times and dropped out each time, I was so frustrated and I felt stupid. I thought I would never graduate and eventually had to petition the school to allow to subsitute the math class ( which is something they rarely did) Through a lot of meetings with the school and prayers, by the grace of God, I managed to get a subsitute class and I passed it, leading to me to finally get my degree.

So today, I can say what I never thought I could say, I am a college graduate, I am so proud of myself, I had a dream of a college degree and it seemed impossible but I never gave up, no matter the obstacles in front of me. I learned more fromt he courses I took, I learned about perservance and patience, I learned that there is hope in a hopeless situation. And I hope to use this part of my story to inspire others to never give and never stop reaching for their dreams.

Image may contain: David Aguilera, smiling, sitting, hat and closeup

Life update

It has been such a long time since I have written an update. I am sorry, my advocacy on social media takes up so much of my energy. I have connected with hundreds of people in so many positive ways, I am amazed actually.  I have been doing Facebook lives and I created a mental health group on there and it is flourishing. I am now flooded with messages and comments and it so difficult to keep up and I just haven’t had time to blog but very good things are happening.

I wrote earlier about trying to get a substitution for the required math class which was the only class I had left. I fought the school and pushed for them to either waive the class or give me a substation, I wasn’t optimistic I’d get either. I have a learning disability in math and I failed the course three times even with accommodations, I was hopeless and thought I’d never get my degree. But low and behold, after several meetings, I got a notice that they were going to substitute my math class with Astronomy, no equations or multiplication, heck yeah.  It was a miracle and a prayer answered. And not only did they substitute my class, but I also have the scholarship to help me finish school, my books and tuition are paid for, by the grace of God.

 

So today was my first class and I was anxious because I have had such difficulties the last few semesters, but I went and got through it. The teacher seemed really nice and the classroom is small plus I was able to get the accommodations I need from disability services. I just know I am going to have to really focus and study this semester, this is it, the last hurray and I really want this degree, I don’t want to piss it away, so I have to be determined and I’m going to study my ass off, that’s what I’ll do.  I am just so proud that I have come this far, I never thought in a million years that I’d be this close to a college degree but here I am, a goal realized.

Like I stated earlier, my advocacy has really grown by leaps and bounds, I am reaching more people than I could have ever imagined. I am connected with therapists. Authors, therapists, advocates, entrepreneurs and through networking, my mental health advocacy is growing every day and I feel I am making a huge difference. I have hundreds of people tell me how my words have resonated with them and I am so humbled.  I even am going to be on a mental health podcast and possibly volunteer for a mental health radio show including being a guest, I mean it’s crazy, this wasn’t even possible 4 or 5 months and here I am., I couldn’t be more optimistic.

My volunteer work has also been going well but I won’t be able to help as much because I have school on those days but I will see them at church and will visit when I can, I am so incredibly grateful for all the wonderful things happening in my life at the moment, I pray it continues. And I am going to make more of an effort to update my blog. Thank you as always for listening.

 

Image may contain: David Aguilera, smiling, tree, outdoor, closeup and nature

Getting my college degree

Things are so good right now; I can’t believe it.  Well earlier, I had made a post about how I was struggling with my math class at college, it was the only class keeping me from graduating.  I have a learning disability in math, which doesn’t mean I am stupid or that I don’t try hard enough ( For those who judge me), it means that my brain is not wired to understand math concepts. It’s similar to someone who has dyslexia and struggles with reading the most basic things. In fact, I am not ashamed of my disabilities, they make me who I am and I use my experience to help others.

 

Anyways earlier I had to drop out of my developmental math class, I just didn’t get it despite my best efforts. I had actually taken the course multiple times and it caused so much emotional distress that I couldn’t sleep at night, I was having angry outbursts and anxiety attacks, I was in bad shape. I assume a lot of people with learning disabilities deal with frustration. People without learning disabilities fail to understand that we try really hard and the issue is not that we are lazy or dumb, it’s just that we learn differently and the traditional way of the classroom doesn’t work for us. We need to find our own system of learning; we all have our own learning styles and learn at our own pace.

 

So, we require accommodations, which can include longer tests times, testing in a quieter space, extra tutoring, frequent breaks. I had talked to a disability counselor prior and I had all my documentation, which had al long history of learning disabilities and emotional issues that impeded my learning, including the trauma of losing my brother to suicide when I was 14.  So, I was given the accommodations and even with that in place and putting all my energy into studying, I failed my midterm even though it was an open book quiz, I was so frustrated.

 

I was also fortunate  to volunteer with a disabled ministry at church and the lady who created the group offered to find me a tutor and some other people looked at my math with me. I am so blessed to have so many people who support and care about me, people who take a vested interest in my life. I don’t know where I would be without this support

 

My mom and I decided to have a meeting with the disability counselor, we brought all the documentation and discussed the issues I had with math particularly the fact that I went to 5 or 6 alternative schools while dealing with the death of my brother.  The meeting went well I asked for them to either waive the class or give me a substitution but she is insinuated that a substitution was very rare, so I wasn’t very optimistic when I left the meeting.

 

I was told that I would be contacted about the school’s decision. I waited and waited and heard nothing. So, a week later I emailed the counselor and she told me she had sent everything to her boss and I would receive a call or email. Again, I waited 2 weeks and heard nothing so I was losing hope. I mean, all of that hard work and it was a brick wall.  I felt like my dreams were crumbling. It just seems like there are so many obstacles and its hard not to want to give up sometimes.

My mom who is my best advocate wrote a letter on my behalf, asking what the hold up was.  And before anyone makes a judgement, I am so grateful that my mom advocates for me. Sometimes it’s difficult for me to confront people or seem pushy and she is really good at fighting for me and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.  She was able to get their attention when I couldn’t.

 

Almost immediately, we got a response saying that the substitution had been approved, I couldn’t believe it, I was  so excited because I thought it would never happen. I wasn’t expecting for them to approve it. I am going to take astronomy and that is much easier for me than math. It will require studying but I know I can pass this. It also means I will finally have a college degree, a life long dream of mine. I couldn’t have imagined this 10 years ago when I was struggling so much.

 

The lesson I learned from all of this was preservice, never giving up, and to have faith.  I thought about God an how he is always working in my life and always answers my prayers.  It’s funny because I am assisting a special needs Sunday school and the theme this week was perservance and not giving up, I mean how much clearer could God’s message  to me be?

 

I also find it interesting that at this time, I would get a troll, saying that I was stupid and lazy and couldn’t even pass a math course and this miracle happened immediately after. Like the devil trying to trip you up or something.  Things happen for a reason and this troll attempt only gave me confidence and got me more connected with others and propelled me to write even further. So, I am grateful for the troll comments, gives me motivation.

 

So, I wanted to share the wonderful news with you and to thank you for all of your support. I will keep everyone updated

 

 

Image may contain: David Aguilera, smiling, tree, plant, sky, outdoor and nature

Mental health advocacy

I wanted to make a blog post today on the mental health advocacy I have been doing online. I have mentioned it before but it really has grown greatly even in the last week. So much so, that I haven’t been writing in my blog as frequently. But I want to give everyone an update on all the incredible things that have been happening.  I stated earlier that I added thousands of people of to my Facebook, mostly advocates and counselors and people who suffer from mental illness.  I found immediately that a lot of these people I added were highly responsive to my posts in a positive way, I got a lot of comments about how people could relate to my posts and how it was having this positive effect on them.  I found all of a sudden I went from getting maybe 1 message a day to about 10 messages a day from different people, sometimes. a lot of the messages were from life coaches wanting to a online one and one chat with me, I talked to one woman for about 1.5 hour on a Skype call and she was wonderful and quite helpful. Other people have sent me messages want to go live with them to discuss mental health or to make a podcast or collab on an article.  I can’t describe how that feels, I mean, it’s incredible and overwhelming because I’m not used to it.   I don’t know, it’s healing feeling but causes anxiety because whether I like it or not, I am in the spotlight, there are thousands of people ( Facebook, Instagram and my blog combined) seeing what I post, reacting, sharing what I’ve written and I am out there in a huge crowd all looking at me, it’s unnerving.   I am used to feeling put down and unheard and now it’s the barrage of praise ( mixed in with some negativity) and I having trouble coping with it sometimes but I’m not complaining.  It takes up a lot of time and it makes me realize about the assumptions we make when someone doesn’t respond.  I would like to respond to every message and comment and say yes to every offer with another advocate but I don’t have the time or energy.   And I am finally beginning to realize what it’s like to be on the other side, where you get so many messages, you can’t possibly respond to every one.  And I thought how I felt ignored in the past and failed to realize that people are busy and they can’t always answer messages, especially if they aren’t urgent.  It just made me think.

I also want to talk about going live on Facebook and Instagram.    About 3 weeks ago, I did my first Facebook l ive about mental health with another person and I was so anxious, I didn’t know this person or how she would respond or how the viewers would respond, she actually invited me out of the blue and I decided to say yes.  But it went really well, we just talked for an hour about mental health and learning disabilities and she was really nice and understanding and as we kept talking, I felt calmer and I could sense the viewers were also enjoying it. Afterwards, I got all these  positive messages and comments, I was just blown awat, I mean, it was indescribable, an elated high.  I got a message from someone about doing suicide prevention Facebook live with her. It didn’t really work out but the fact that she asked was such an honor.

I also got a message from the friend of the person I went live with and she mentioned a podcast and I had never even thought of one, even though I was doing video ( which is far less  nerve wracking)  And we talked for a bit and I decided that creating a podcast would be a good idea, I am less nervous during audios and I can write what I want to say so I don’t stumble over my words and keep focused.  I created a Podcast and have 3 or 4 Podcasts so far. I don’t get a lot of feedback because there’s no comment section or anything but I enjoy it and I’m doing it because I hope it will help someone.  I plan on continuing podcasts and maybe eventually doing one with another advocate but I am trying to figure how it works, it’s confusing.

Oh and another really important thing that happened this was that I along with several others, created  a mental health awareness group page on Facebook.  And so far, it’s been great. I have about 90 members and we all post and encourage and uplift one another and it’s just positive. And I pray that it can a source of help to people and that it can grow and reach a large audience.  And people have been so helpful with helping me set up the group, I go to them for advice,  I encourage members to post whatever they want, I try to make it a safe place where people can express themselves.  Like I said, it’s surreal that so I am connected with all of these people.

I want to go back to the Instagram and Facebook lives because I have done a lot them.  So another person saw a video I made on instagram about social media and wanted to get on live with me and discuss it with me.  So yesterday we both went on live and sadly her connection was really bad so we had to cut it short and so I decided that I was going to back to Facebook and go live by myself and discuss suicide prevention. I told the whole story of my how my brother took his life and everything that preceded it and it was really difficult, I was blunt and honest and didn’t omit anything. It was very raw but healing.  And again the support was amazing but there was a very hurtful comment made and it is something I need to talk about.  Well, this person knew my family and my brother during the time that he took his life.  She basically said that was trying to phrase her comment lovingly but she was concerned that I hadn’t moved on from my brother’s death and that it wasn’t healthy to talk him so much or so openly, Maybe I would benefit more from counseling and then also said that I wasn’t “qualified” to help those who are suicidal because I don’t have a degree or certificate. Wouldn’t I feel guilty if  I gave someone advice and they took their lives. And at some point the comment she said that my brother would want me to move on.  I was sort of stunned and didn’t know to react and I said nothing, deleted her comment and put her on restricted in Facebook ( she is still my FB friend but cannot see my posts).   It was a hurtful thing to say in opinion to someone who has lost a loved one to suicide, she doesn’t realize that when I talk about mental health, it is helping other people and what I interpreted was that she was uncomfortable and wanted to silence me. I am not going to stop speaking out about mental health or suicide prevention and if someone doesn’t like it, than that is too bad.  So I made the decision to not respond at all, I am afraid I might say something hurtful that I will regret so it’s best to ignore people like that, it just makes me sad, is all.

So yesterday, the day after the suicide prevention Facebook live, I had probably the most incredible day in terms of advocacy.  I got a very long message from a friend who I grew up with and she seeking advice about helping her disabled clients. This is someone I really care about and I was so honored that she came to me, seeking advice and that I could be of help to her. I mean, usually I might message her with an issue and that may be the first she came to me with one.  It makes me feel like what I am saying and posting is truly making a difference and sometimes I am so caught up in it that I can’t see it. And then after that ( in the same day mind you) , I got this message from a therapist that I follow on Instagram and she had seen a video I made about being on the autistic spectrum and wanted to know how I came to be diagnosed and what were my symptoms. She was asking because she had a client with similar issues who was wondering if she had autism.  The therapist was coming to me and using my story as a means of diagnosing a patient. I mean, again, it’s it’s just you know, like unbelievable, it’s like a dream, where finally  I  feel I am understood and needed and all of that pain and anguish has lead to helping people, just wow, you know.  And then I did an Instagram live with this woman who is an author that follows me.  And we just talked about writing and using our experience to build our characters and it was so great.  Right afterwards, I got on with another person who I have connected with and had like the greatest chat and it was wonderful to talk to someone who “gets me” and wants to help others like I do.  And I never thought in a million years, I’d be going live with people.  It was quite a day but it did leave me drained because it was a lot to process.

I want to end this post by saying that I at the disabled ministry and I was talking to this guy and here’s the thing, I have trouble connecting with males and sometimes I’m intimidated by them. So this guy is a big guy and boisterous and at first intimidating.  But as I got to know him, I realize how much he cared about the young disabled adults, this person is gentle and kind and accepts everyone and very involved with church. I actually told him about my issues with math and told me to call him for help.  So I saw him today and I was telling about the advocacy and everything that happened. And he was so excited for me, he was “dude I’ve got chills, this is amazing” and I could tell he was really interested in what I was saying. I guess my parents told him about my brother and he thought it was great I went live to talk about it. It was just nice to talk to someone in person who was also excited about advocacy, it’s amazing feeling.  I feel this is God’s calling for me and I am just so optimistic about advocacy and will try to continue  blogging and updating everyone. Thank you for all your continued support

Dave

My meeting with the disability counselor at school

So I had my meeting with the disability counseler today and I had my mom there for support. It went surprisingly well, the counselor was really friendly and I told her about the issues with my learning disabilities and the history pf not being taught math because I bounced around from one alternative school to another. I also told her about the trauma of losing my brother at 14 and how that impacted my learning. I made sure to point out that I am an honor student and my struggles in math were not due to lack of trying, since I have taken these courses several times. I told her about the accommodations that I needed. Apparently I was entitled to one on one tutoring but I assumed that meant the tutoring class with multiple students, not individual instruction. I again asked about using a calculator and she again stated that it was part of the curriculum, nothing she could do. I noted I was disappointed that the class was not adaptive to my needs and she said a lot students struggle with how the class is set up and that the course was designed by state level. I asked if could substitute the math course and she told me that she’d talk to the person higher up and then talk to the woman who heads the department of my degree program ( She headed the internship class and I was not fond of her) but it doesn’t usually happen. The counselor was friendly but she basically said her hands were tied when it came to getting some of help I need. I’m still frustrated but the meeting went as well as it could be, it wasn’t tense and I was calm and managed my anxiety. I felt I got my point across and I was understood and I realize there is only so much she can do from her end. I will continue to kep everyone updated and to stay positive. Thank you for all the wonderful support, friends, it means the world to me

 

Mental health advocacy

Mental health and disability advocacy is so important. We have to speak out for those who can’t speak for themselves. I know so many out there are made to feel inferior, they are isolated and they feel alone. I’m here to say that you are not alone, you are loved, people care, there is hope and never be afraid to ask for help

 

Building my support network

Lately my social media has really grown, I have added thousands of people to my Facebook, most of them life coaches therapists, other advocates, those in the recovery field and it has been such a blessing to connect with them. I have found it healing being able to share my thoughts and feelings across and get all of these amazing responses, unimaginable 2 years ago, I finally feel like I have a sizable support network and for me that is important and when it comes to support, it makes no difference whether I personally know someone or not. In fact it’s a lot easier to me to talk about mental health or advocacy with those I don’t know personally. I am talking to interesting people and in only a matter of a few weeks, I have really grown as a person. and have never felt more connected/

This week is going to be quite the busy week in regards to advocacy. Today I went on my first Facebook live discussing mental health, I was with another advocate/life coach. The discussion went very even though I was a little nervous, especially sharing my story and being so open about my struggles and past but she listened and I felt like she understood, I was honest and raw in my discussion, which I always am, I don’t usually do on video, so it was nerve wracking. But people seemed to like the broadcast and I got a lot of good feedback from everyone, it was healing, therapeutic even. I talk about mental health, my issues with disabilities, my health issues my brother taking his life and spirtuality. . It can be overwhelming to get this sudden attention, to go from feeling very alone to being connected with all these people who want to talk me, it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around it, I am anxious about all of it but also excited. I have felt rejected for so long, I have trouble understanding why anyone would want to hear me talk. But I feel this is important and I will continue to speak out on mental health and disabilities.

I am also participating in an online anxiety workshop on top of everything else, I am very busy. But this is a time of finding myself, healing and I hope maybe this might lead to a career somehow. I really believe that I have the ability to reach people and help them with my story and experience. I care, I like to listen, I encourage others and I want them to feel less alone, those are valuable skills in that field. I am not working right now and I can’t go back to retail, I want to do something that makes a difference and working retail is soul crushing and it was so difficult and emotionally draining.

And I that leads to one more thing. In talking about the past and my issues with mental health and disabilities, I have mentioned several times how I felt I was treated poorly, in school as a child and in the workplace as an adult. As I was talking live on Facebook and i recounted my issues of disabilities and mental health struggles at work, I felt angry inside. I felt angry how they put me down, made me feel inferior and never took my disabilities into account when my productivity was slow. And when I was telling this story, the other person just listened and for first time I felt like someone was as angry as me about it. Like I knew I had been treated fairly but usually people just brush it off and say ” Everyone hates their job” It was different for me, I felt isolated and helpless, I was dealing with really bad stomach and bladder issues and it was creating emotional distress and all they could do was mock the fact that I wasn’t quick enough, that makes me angry, I was treated unfairly. I realized that part of advocacy is speaking out for those who are in similar situations but are afraid to speak up, much like i was, not too long ago. But instead of letting my anger fester and destroy me, I channel it and use it make a difference, that is what advocacy is all about. In a sense I feel vindicated, all of that pain and anquish lead me to something good, something better and maybe in a way it was worth it.

I feel advocacy is my calling and I will continue to share my story, I will continue to speak out especially when I see injustices in the world. I feel God is working in my life and he is giving me all these opportunities and my life is changing faster than I could have imagined a few weeks ago, I’m really optimistic because I feel people are listening. I feel like this is my turn to shine and make something of myself. So I thank all of those that hurt me because they thought i was weak but they actually made me stronger, I rise above them and prove them all wrong. Thank you everyone who has always supported and listened to me

 

Note- I have been much less active on my blog lately, I apologize,  I have been communicating with a lot of people and dealing with an influx on comments, messages and reactions.  I am going to make more of an effort to blog more because I enjoy it.   And as soon as I can, I will post the link to the broadcast

 

Image may contain: David Aguilera, smiling, indoor

People who care

I made a blog earlier about the difficulties I was having in school with my math course, I didn’t get the support I need and now I am so far behind that I can’t possible pass this course. I have no choice at the moment to withdraw; a part of me feels like failure even though everyone around me says that I did the best I could, a part of me feels stupid because I really wanted to pass this course. So I was volunteering the other day and during my lunch break, I was talking to some of the staff of the disabled ministry, I was telling them about my situation and they were appalled that I couldn’t receive the help I needed and how I just need to one class to pass and I’m being held back, and it’s important to note that I’m an honor student, so I am highly capable of making it through college.  The people I were talking asked me to bring my math notebook, so they can see the kind of math problems I’m dealing with. They offered to tutor me a little and get me up to speed for my next class, I was amazed. I was amazed that people would take the time to help me, someone they’ve only known for a few months.  I am going to take them up on their offer because I need all the help I can get.  I have been hurt so much by people in the past, it’s easy to forget that there are good people out there, people who care.   And tonight, I went to a dinner with the same disabled ministry and I saw the leader of the group who had been out town, she asked me about school and I told her how frustrated I was and how I am going to drop out. I told her I was going to school to speak with the disability counselor and she offered to go with me and advocate and I really think that would be a good idea. She Is known in the community, she’s a pretty tough lady in the sense that she would hold them accountable for not giving me the proper accommodations, she also cares about me and sees how passionate I am about helping the disabled, she knows how much I want this degree and how I will use to make a difference in people’s lives.  I am just so blessed because I know God is working in my life through this group and I know I’ll be ok

 

So, on another note I am also getting a lot of online support. I added a bunch of writers and mental health advocates to my Facebook page, I have over 3,000 friends on there. And since I use my social media for advocacy and network (in fact I have managed to give my link of my blog to several people and they loved it), it makes no difference whether I know them personally or not.  So since I have added all these people, I have had an influx of messages and comments and reactions, so much so that I can barely keep up, all of it positive, a lot of people are inspired by my writing which is really heartwarming to me that they are positively affected by it and I can tell how many people said that my writing has made a difference in their lives; that is an honor. On top the comments about my writing, I also talk a lot about mental health and gotten so much support, it’s overwhelming. I have several people who are life coaches’ message me, one woman offered to do a Facebook video call and I will do that very soon, another person invited to participate in mental health workshop online.

So, all these wonderful things are happening and it feels like mental health advocacy is a big part of my life and I am connecting with thousands of people and getting my message across, it is a feeling that indescribable to me.  Only about 1 year and half ago I felt totally isolated, I wasn’t writing or connected with anyone, I wasn’t open about my struggles and kept my feelings to myself.  I still can’t believe the responses I get, 50 ,60 comments a day, hundreds of likes, I don’t want to seem like I’m bragging, I just am amazed.  I like metaphors, it’s like a poor guy all of sudden winning the lottery. I was totally alone one minute and now I have all this attention and it’s hard to handle. I mean, I wanted it but I’m not used to it.   But like I said earlier, people care, for the first time in my life I feel like people are listening to what I have to say. As if my all pent-up feelings are being validated by so many people who feel the same way I do and can relate. I felt like I was the only one for all my life and now I realize I am not. I was put down all my life and now I receive more praise than I can handle.  How does one deal with all that sudden change? I don’t know. But that’s for this blog, I am happy to have a place to express all of their feelings. I thank all my followers for being so supportive and will keep everyone updated.

 

Thanks for listening

Dave

 

Image may contain: David Aguilera, smiling, sitting and indoor

Learning disabilities and college

I just started a new school semester and have devoted all of my energy on this Math course which is the only class I need to take in order to graduate.  I have learning disabilities and it mostly affects Math, in fact I passed every other subject with flying colors, I have about a 3.5 grade average.  I excelled at writing papers and in my counseling, class was one of the few students to get an A in one of the hardest classes offered by the degree program. So not to pat myself on the back but I feel like I’m a pretty smart guy.  So back to math, my degree program in human services disabilities, Math has nothing to do with my chosen career and yet it’s forced up upon me.

So, I signed up for what’s called a DMA course, that means that it’s a class that designed to get you up to speed so you can pass 1 college level math course. It is not designed for those that specifically have learning disabilities despite that the name of the course implies it.   I was actually given a scholarship so I could finally get my degree after many years of attending this community college. I took all the precautions; I talked to a disability counselor and managed to get accommodations (although not as many as I had hoped). The class requires that I not use a calculator until I can pass the midterm test, I tried to waive that but the counselor told me there was nothing that could be done. But she did give me the option of taking the tests in the testing center with more time and that is pretty much the only accommodation that I have right now.  In addition to class time, there is a tutoring class which was offered, it consists of student volunteers that help guides you. It is not individualized or designed specifically for those with disabilities.

So, I got to the class and it isn’t even a classroom, it is an open computer area and all the lessons are done online. So basically, you sit in front of a computer and the teacher and her assistant try to help you with questions and sometimes they are of help and sometimes they aren’t.   You have taken these little quizzes based on videos and an online textbook.  I haven’t taken math since middle school and due to the trauma of losing my brother and having mental health issues, high school is a blur, I didn’t learn much. Needlessly to say my math skills are very limited, I can barely do long division and multiplication without a calculator, so to take away the one tool that COULD help me succeed is almost cruel.  Sometimes during class, I’d just jot down notes or stare at the screen because I couldn’t figure it, I felt so stupid, seeing everyone figure it out and I was stuck on the basics.  I felt helpless.

I decided that I had to take the tutoring courses, which were offered at two campus. At  one campus, the class was in an enclosed classroom but there were 4 or 5 students with one teacher, I couldn’t get the amount of attention I needed because she kept jumping to help every other student. She explained some things here and there but it wasn’t enough for me to fully understand, even if I wrote it down. The other tutoring session was in the same area of the math class but was in an open area, above a lobby where many students gathered, there were 3 volunteers to help me but it was noisy and I couldn’t concentrate, she was trying to help me solve a math problem but I was so frustrated by all the noise that I just gave up for the day. I also have ADHD and I was furious, I wanted to ask someone to do something, I was trying to learn and this was impeding on my learning process. You’d think tutoring would be a private and quiet area, right?  I just shake my head at how many obstacles this school sets up for those who struggle with learning disabilities

So, on top of the class, I could do schoolwork at home which at first was nice, I was in my own space, I could concentrate and really think about the problems. But I found myself studying for hours at a time and still not understanding. I was getting angry and frustrated and stressed out, I couldn’t sleep and it has taken up all my thoughts.  And doing it at home is difficult because all you have is a computer program, they don’t have a person explaining it to you, step by step, which is helpful to a person who has disabilities. An online video can  can only help so much.   Mentally and emotionally, I am totally drained, I have been so frustrated, as if I am a kid again and I’m being forced to learn something that I cannot understand, until eventually they stopped teaching me because it caused so much distress.

So, I have a midterm due and I have done almost every quiz except for one, I have tried and tried and cannot get it right. I actually went through all the videos, wrote an example of each concept, twice, my notebook is completely full and I have looked at this math concept every which way and still cannot figure it out. So, after 2 or 3 days of little sleep, I threw my hands up and decided that I cannot do this, this is unhealthy.  I will take the test tomorrow, that way they can’t say that I didn’t try and afterwards I am contacting my disability counselor and telling her I cannot continue.  They can either waive this class so I can finally graduate or I don’t get a degree, all those years of hard work down the drain because they don’t recognize that my disability severely impedes me from passing this math course.

But here’s the thing, this is a wonderful opportunity to advocate not only for myself, but for others who will come after me, those struggling with disabilities that try so hard and fail because of the school’s refusal to adapt to their needs. So here are some of my suggestions. The first is that if a student has a history of documented disabilities (makes no difference if it is specifically in math) and has passed all of their other classes and has made several attempts at math and failed and math is not a part a specific part of their degree program then they should be able to waive that math requirement.  The second part is that if they are adamant about forcing math on those that are learning disabled, then they should have a class geared specifically for those with documented learning disabilities; with instructors that can meet the needs of the learning disabled; with the attention and guidance they so desperately need. And the last suggestion is that there should be individualized one on one tutoring for students with learning disabilities. There is no reason why a learning-disabled person can’t get more individual attention, our needs are greater than most students and we do require more attention and time to understand certain courses. I can’t see why this isn’t possible with this school.  It’s all about ensuring that students with learning disabilities succeed, when the disabled students succeed, so does the school.   So instead of getting angry and feeling sorry for myself. I use this has an opportunity to educated the school and the public as whole about better adapting to the needs of those with learning disabilities in higher education.

 

No photo description available.