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

 

 

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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

 

I’m back in school

I want to make a quick update. Today was a new semester of college for me and I only have a few classes until I can get my degree in human service disabilities and finally graduate. I have finished all of my classes including internships and now all that I have left are these math courses.  All my life I have had learning disabilities in math and every time I see a math problem; I automatically feel dumb and I feel myself get frustrated. When I got to class; we had to take knowledge check and I didn’t know anything.  Out of 20 questions, I got 1 right; again, I felt stupid.  Luckily, it didn’t affect my grade but it shows how far behind I am; I’m not bad at math; I simple can’t do it. I said a little prayer and told myself not to get frustrated because that only makes it worse. On a positive note; I am determined this time around; I am going to make this class successful. Late last year; I got in touch with a disability counselor and she said she could give me some accommodations; which hopefully will help. I’m going to email her tomorrow and see how she can help me. There is also a tutoring class available and I am going to go to that tomorrow; I really intend on making the effort. I pray that God will see me through and I am fortunate to have a lot of support and I am blessed.  Thank you, friends, for all your kind words and understanding; it really makes a difference in my life.

 

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Going back to school

So it has been a rough few days for me but I have been moving forward and I refuse to allow my anxiety to take over. Today I had an appointment with a disability counselor at school and it actually went pretty well; I let her know I had various learning disabilities and how I struggled with math problems; focusing, getting frustrated etc; she seemed to understand that.  She told me that because of class rules I had to abide by the no calculator rule ( which to be honest I was a disappointed) but she told me I could take tests in a smaller room with less distractions and have extra time for tests; I also could have someone write me notes in a way I could understand. I thought that was fair; I am not afraid to ask for help because I am determined to get this degree, man; like I want it so bad.

I made a post about this earlier on Facebook and a good friend of mine who works in the disability field asked if I could ever be a guest speaker at the school where she works; what an honor.  Given my financial situation; it might be difficult but I ever get that chance I will take it. God has blessed me with such wonderful loving friends and I know he is working in my life.  So while yesterday was stressful and it felt like everything was falling apart; today feels like this really is a blessing in disguise and life might work out after all. I am just so optimistic right now but I have to continue to pray and keep moving forward.

Thanks for listening

Dave

 

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I will not give up ( school update)

Today has been such a frustrating day; I have been struggling with this math course. All my life I have struggled with math; I could do everything else but Math makes me want to throw a fit.  In fact I passed all of my courses with really good grades; half the time without even trying; to be honest.  If I didn’t know how to write I would have never passed my courses. I avoided math until the end because I knew that it would make me so frustrated that my other classes would suffer as a result.  I have learning and emotional disabilities and I get flustered very easily when I don’t understand something and math is my aquiles heel. In fact I am on the Autism spectrum ( or so they tell me)

I got to class today; prepared to take a few mini tests and do some vocabulary worksheets; I was pretty optimistic I could figure it out. I had written down notes from all the chapters including examples and diagrams.  Oh and I forget to mention that for the first 2 weeks of this 4 week math course; I cannot use a calculator.  I cannot multiply or divide large numbers without the use of a calculator; so  to not have a calculator only adds to the stress. A lot of my math works has to do with fractions; dividing; multiplying and simplifying ( it might as well be Chinese because I don’t fuckin get it)  I sat there; problems after problem and I couldn’t figure it out. And I could feel myself getting angry; I was muttering curse words under my breath; giving the computer a middle finger; I was obviously upset. Like a little kid I’m writing in my notes “this is total bullshit”  “fuck this” etc; because when I do math; I’m a little kid again. The girl next to me seemed to be disturbed by how angry I seemed; which really helped :(.   I closed my notebook, threw it into my backpack and walked out. I called my mom and told her I was ready to drop this course.  I sat waiting for my ride ( I’ll share that journal later) and wrote how I was feeling at that exact moment.

I got home and I talked to my mom and she contacted the disability counselor at a different campus who suggested I email someone who specifically helps those who are learning disabled in math. Since it was past 5 pm; I couldn’t get her on the phone so I sent her an email. I let her know that i was struggling; I had learning disabilities and how could she help me be successful because I only have math left. My mom also informed that if I have learning disability specifically in math then I can substitute it for a different course. I am not quite sure if I have specific disability but I know I was in LD math classes all my life; that counts for something, right. So I called work and took the day off and I am going to take care of this school thing tomorrow because I am determined to get this degree.  I just feel so frustrated at myself sometimes; I am so confident when it comes to every other subject but it hurts when I see people figuring this math shit out and I can’t get it.  I felt like crying; like less than a man.  But I will pray about this and I appreciate all the support.

But I want to end this on a positive note and say there are things I do have now that are helpful that I didn’t have before.  On my social media; I often talk to my old friends who no longer live near me; people who I grew up with. I share my struggles with them am very open about my disabilities ( aside from being on the autistic spectrum) and they have been so supportive; I get so much love from my friends and that makes a huge difference; to have that support system.  So even though they are far away and we can’t go to lunch or talk about it; I know I can post about it and I get words of encouragement; I am truly blessed. And what’s even more helpful is some of my favorite people who I were friends with are now in the disability field; they understand me and accept me for who I am; which means so much. The other resource I have is my writing and the encouragement I get from my followers; I love having this outlet to express my frustrations. It’s much better than flushing my math notebook down the toilet; which is very tempting by the way. I opt for writing about it; I hope someone can read this and understand where I am coming from. Maybe they want to give up and I hope that they try to overcome their struggles and to push themselves to do better.  Even if I have to fail this course; I want to know that I did everything I could to succeed.  I can do this and whatever it is you are struggling with you; you can do this too.

For now I am going to relax, get some unhealthy junk food in me and try again tomorrow.

 

Have a good night,

Dave

Dealing with learning disabilities in Math

All my life I have struggled with math; to the point where I find myself enraged every time I have to look at a math problem; I used to throw my math book on the ground because I got so frustrated; 25 years later; in college I find myself doing the same exact thing. Throwing a fit like a kid because I just don’t fuckin get it. I don’t know what the exact diagnosis is but I have a learning disability in math and it used to make me feel so stupid. I will never forget when I was about 9 years old; they moved me from my special education class to a regular classroom; I had no idea what so called “normal kids” were like. Anyways this teacher made me go up to board and solve a math problem in front of all the students; I can still remember turning red and hearing them laugh when I couldn’t figure it out and the more they laughed; the angrier I became at them but also at myself. I was angry at this teacher for putting a child with disabilities on display; knowing I struggled with it. In fact I hope things in school have changed since the early 90’s.  I felt so stupid because the other kids understood math with ease and I would look at a problem a million times and I still couldn’t figure it out. Due to the bullying they moved me back to the special ed class ( at least for Math) and I was given easy math assignments I could understand and got plenty of one on one help. By the time I hit high school I was still getting help for my learning disabilities and by that point; I don’t remember any math courses; then again it was a chaotic time in my life. I just remember now having to deal with math from 7th grade on; I figured I was free and never needed it again; I couldn’t have imagined at that time going to college in the future.  I got kicked out of high school and ended up in a bunch of alternative schools and their only requirement was that I showed up; not a lot of expectations. I look back and I feel cheated but I was a troubled kid and I needed to be there.

So fast forward to 2018 and I am so close to my degree. I have all of my classes passed; all the internships done; a good grade point average and I have taken 1 developmental math course (  passed by the skin of my teeth)  Now I am in the second class and it has to with prime numbers and simplifying fractions. mixed numbers etc; probably basis shit to most people, but for someone with maybe 6th grade knowledge of math ( and that is stretching it) it is all complex.  I don’t know how to divide or multiply without a calculator and the class requires that I not use a calculator for the first two weeks ( I had a assumed i could use the calculator from the start)  A lot of the coursework is done online ( thank god) but the tests are done in the computer lab ( which does not help my anxiety)  Yesterday was ok; I took notes of all the basis concepts and was able to finish some assignments; i felt confident.  Today I worked all day ( I am in retail and cannot take weekends off) so I was already tired. I came home again and started on my math work; took notes and tried to limit distractions.  When it came to taking the practice tests; I drew a blank and had to google the answers just to finish the assignment; it doesn’t help because I still don’t understand the concepts and I again feel like that 9 year old kid; I feel stupid, frustrated and incapable of learning this math.

I asked my family for help and said because of my temper they refused to help ( which is understandable) but that just frustrates me further; I feel helpless sometimes. I just say to myself I can write a 10 paper in a few days and get and A, but I can’t solve a simple 7th grade math problem; it hurts.  It’s the weekend; I am working; I can’t go to the school so I am sitting here; trying to calm myself down and take it a day at a time ( or in my case; a fraction at a time). I am going to get the right documentations and ask for accommodations because I need help. I NEED HELP!! There is also free tutoring and I am going to take advantage of that too.  I know I can do this with the right help and resources; I am not stupid; in fact I consider myself quite bright; I just have a disability and it isn’t my fault. And I’m not 9 years old and no one is laughing ( as far as i know)  I hope someone out there understands where I am coming from. The lesson of all of this is never be afraid to admit you have a problem and don’t be afraid to ask for help and never ever think or allow someone to make you feel like you are stupid due to a disability. You are not stupid; you just have a different way of learning things and need to find a way to adapt. With that ,I am emotionally drained and I am spending the rest of the night watching movies and leaving the math until tomorrow.

Good night

Dave