Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Learning Disabilities

When people find out that I have learning disabilities, they are usually full of questions.

"What is it?"
"What's it like?"

Or the slightly more insensitive ones,

"So like you can't read?"
"Wait so can you even count?"

I have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and Dyslexia. Really I have Dyslexia and the ADHD come with it but hey. Who cares.

A lot of people actually don't know a lot about learning disabilities. Unless you have it or are a professional in that field of study, trust me, you do NOT know. People are actually pretty ignorant when it comes to dealing with learning disabilities. One of the most annoying things that people say, is,

"Omg I couldn't focus during class today. I must have ADHD!"

No! Just no. It's honestly rude to the people who actually have it because ADHD is a complex thing and it is NOT FUN. Would you jokingly tell someone, "Omg I'm losing hair. I must have cancer!"? So why is it okay to joke about having a learning disability?

Let me tell you what it's like to have a Dyslexia and ADHD for me. So firstly, as with everything, there is a spectrum. I fall into the lower end of the spectrum. Meaning that my symptoms are not the most extreme. That was why I was only diagnosed when I was 12. Usually the kids on the higher end of the spectrum get diagnosed young because they are hyperactive and they are disruptive especially in a classroom setting. When I was diagnosed, my teachers were pretty surprised. Simply because it is assumed that ADHD just means that a kid is disruptive.

Having ADHD and Dyslexia was hard for me because it caused me to really struggle in school. All through my school life, I always felt 10 steps behind the rest of my classmates. My math teacher would come in and say,

"Okay guys, today's topic is super easy."

 My whole class would be able to get it after a short while and I would just be like


I constantly struggled in school. I even got held back a year because I was going through a really rough time and I refused to take my medication.

The medication I'm talking about is my ADHD pill called Concerta.

Basically this pill reduces your energy levels and forces you to focus. It was really hard (and horribly scary to be honest) to adjust to the new medication. The first week was the hardest. I got headaches, I constantly felt nauseous, I didn't want to eat and I felt so stifled.

I got very anxious while on the pill because it would speed up my heart rate and cause my hands to shake. I would feel miserable and I often cried at night because of the insomnia the medication gave me and how sick of life I was. I once even had a panic attack because of it. So on the pill, I was focused but I was also a wreck of nerves and I felt absolutely horrible.

Think about it this way. I would trade my happiness, my cheer, my sleep, my basic physical needs just so that I could complete 4 chapters of something in a few hours (True story).

 I made this edit to show exactly how I felt to have graduated from secondary school and to not have to be on Concerta anymore. On the pill I felt like a puppet. I was exhausted and I was burnt out long before my O'Levels even came. But the pill kept me up and basically dragged me across the finishing line. Anyway I was cutting the string to symbolise freedom from it.

Today, I am in a school I love and I'm doing things I love. I rarely have to sit down and focus on studying since my course is mostly project based. So I thankfully I only need my medication maybe once a month. 

But my learning disabilities do still affect me. For example, I have issues with spelling. When my friends and I are doing a project, they usually have to go through my writing to correct my spelling for me. Before my English O'levels, both my parents had to sit down with me and test me on my spelling. I was 16.

 I also have issues with numbers. If you were to ask me to convert 12000 to words, I honestly would have no clue. Vice versa. I struggle with basic mental sums and I still count with my fingers. But I am not ashamed.

I am not ashamed simply because it is proven that people with learning disabilities are more creative, have a better sense of intuition and can multitask. Plus, during exams, I get extra time, a private room and an invigilator to myself (hehe). So even though I've struggled a lot, I wouldn't trade it for anything.

I'm sorry if this post was not the most coherent. I'm very passionate about this subject and I had so much to say that I almost didn't know what to say at all. I hope it's still understandable enough for you guys.