College, Disabilities, and Success

#77 Sharing Your Own Disability Experiences With Others Who Struggle

August 17, 2022 Mickie Hayes Season 2 Episode 77
College, Disabilities, and Success
#77 Sharing Your Own Disability Experiences With Others Who Struggle
Show Notes Transcript

Sharing your own disability story with students, parents, and children can make a big difference in someone's life.  However, by the same token, sharing can be risky and often depends on an individual's own circumstances.  Today's episode offers some "food for thought" because sometimes sharing our own struggles helps others see a way through their own challenges.  In today's episode, you will hear a replay of Jimmy from Episode 22 telling us how a professor helped him by sharing his own history of poor test-taking.  You will also learn about three K-12 educators from an article in about school leaders who shared their own struggles with disabilities, including dyslexia, ADHD, and hearing loss.  The article is titled "School Leaders With Disabilities: It's Important to Share That Your Are Not Alone," by Denise R. Superville from August 10, 2022.

"School Leaders With Disabilities: It's Important to Share That Your Are Not Alone," by Denise R. Superville from August 10, 2022.

College, Disabilities, and Success Episode 22 "Jimmy Shares His LD Story"

College, Disabilities, and Success Episode 4 "Changes From High School to College."

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Jimmy  0:00  
...and sometimes we ourselves don't know that a professor could also have a disability a hidden disability. One in particular, when when we were working together, I was failing, I was failing those tests, those test grades look like a winner in Cincinnati. It was 4535 50. And I remember talking to the professor, and the professor said, Hey, I wasn't a good test taker to when I was an undergrad. And he told me, how about you come to my office, and we'll do a little run by of test taking skills of what you can do. So you do not freeze up or test anxiety or ways of how you can learn how I did it when I was going to school. Wow. And, and he told me to this day, I sometimes if I don't understand something, I will decipher the way that he taught me how to decipher Awesome.

Mickie  1:00  
That is, that is amazing. You were listening to Jimmy, one of my former students who was sharing his story with a professor about his learning disability. He was the first person I interviewed in this podcast series. And he was so kind because he was not even a little bit concerned about sharing the fact that his learning disability is something that has shaped who he is, and it has helped him in spite of the struggles in many cases, and it made a difference when he talked to his professors. In his example, there he spoke to a professor who actually shared his own struggles in college before he became a professor and helped Jimmy with some technique that he's still using today. So here's a perfect example of an adult with a disability a professional in a professional field, a college professor sharing his own disability story with a student and that student benefited tremendously from the professor's support and knowledge and encouragement. Deciding to speak out and share your own story is a very personal decision. So today, we're going to talk about adults with disabilities, revealing that disability to their students, if they're a teacher, or professor, or to the parents of those students, or parents with disabilities, sharing their own struggles with their own children, and why in some cases, it can make a huge impact in a child's life. So welcome to College Disabilities, and Success. Episode 77. "Sharing Your Own Disability Experiences with Others Who Struggle" by Mickie Hayes. The opinions in this podcast are my own, please reach out to your college physician or legal services for additional information.

Mickie  3:05  
Back in the day, when my daughter was in middle school, I took her to the library to get some information for a report she had to do. And when we looked through the information, there was a picture of a medallion that she wanted to include in her report. So I said, let me make a photocopy of it. So she can have something to reference. This was before everybody had a cell phone camera in their hand. And she said she didn't need a photocopy, that she knew what it was. And she could remember it and she could draw it on her own. Now, I don't know if it was because I was her mother. And I knew better or thought I knew better. But I said I'm going to make a copy anyway, just for my own sake. Because I knew personally that if I had to recall what this medallion looked like, it was never going to happen. That's just the way it is. I just knew that about me. And even though she poo pooed the idea, I made the copy. Well, when we got into the car, I said I'm going to try and reproduce the copy from my memory without looking at the picture. And I couldn't do it. I had no idea where which things went which parts were were on the medallion. And I told her to do the same thing. And she just looked at me like I lost my mind. And in simply sketched out the medallion from memory on the paper the way she saw it in the picture, but from her memory. And I realized at that point that I had a disability that I had been living with all my life because I knew I couldn't do this. I thought everybody had the same problem. But it turned out Nope, this was special to me unofficially diagnosed. This is like a spatial memory problem. And I know that and I take tons of notes, and I have tons of papers in front of me whenever I'm doing something, not necessarily because I need to read from them or look at them, but I might need a glance to bring it to the front of my brain. But I think that deficit in me actually helped to make me a better teacher because I knew that I couldn't possibly be the only one with this problem and that it was clear to me that Many of my students, students with learning disabilities had the same kind of issue. And at least I knew one way that I could help them. So I think the reality is my own personal disability actually enhanced my ability to be a better teacher. And I just tell the students that this is how I learned best. And you might find that it helps you to when I was a K 12 Learning Disability teacher, I often had conversations with the parents about their children, we would have open houses in meetings and conferences and things. And I would try to explain to the parents the behaviors and the academic struggles that I saw the children showing, and many, many times, I had parents tell me here, I did that a lot. When I was a kid, many parents go through the same kind of struggles that their kids have specially when it comes to dyslexia and learning disabilities. And they don't realize that it is often an inherited neurology. When you were listening to the piece from Jimmy's podcast that I replayed in the beginning. In his piece, he talked about a professor who identified as having some of the same issues that Jimmy had, and the professor gave Jimmy some suggestions about how the professor coped with the problem that might help Jimmy as well. And those suggestions made a difference for Jimmy as he was doing his college work. And that's really the whole point of today's article, that there's a lot of educators who are educators, because they understand the struggle that so many students have at school. And that's why when I do these podcasts, I like to reference an article or a resource that you can download and check out for yourself so that you get the actual text of the information that I'm sharing. And that takes me to the article that I have for you today. And it's in And the article is titled school leaders with disabilities, it's important to share that you're not alone by Denise our superville done on August 10 2022. The article talks about a principal in Hawaii, who shared that his own struggles with dyslexia helped shaped his commitment to ensuring that students have access to the tools that they need to succeed. And he's constantly asking, is there something that we're missing that we can actually help the students with, and that does not necessarily mean that it is a special education student, and he says it could mean a student who needs additional supports. Now, not everybody is comfortable talking about their disability with other teachers and students, there is a stigma attached to it. And there are people who perceive an individual as having less than or lesser abilities then because of their disability, and that may not be the case. And so in order for somebody to actually share this knowledge with their colleagues and their co workers, and as parents with their children, you have to really be comfortable talking about your diagnosis and how it impacted you and how you found ways to work around the issue. And because it is a vulnerable situation, and it is putting that individual in the professional field at risk in many cases, because there's a whole lot of people who just don't get it. But I think adults with disabilities, parents, teachers, educators, who are comfortable with their environment, and comfortable with this situation, are sometimes willing to take the risk because they realize that a little bit of empathy can go a very long way. In the article. This also talks about a counselor by the name of Phyllis Fidel, who did not talk publicly about her ADHD for 10 years for gel had an administrator who she says brings out the best in her and really gave her the confidence to speak publicly to the students and the parents about her ADHD. According to Fidel, I think when you have a leader like that, it makes it safe to admit what you struggle with. She brings out the best in me and I in turn can do the same for our students. Now Fidel thinks it's very important that the students and the parents know that that disability ADHD can be managed. So she shares stories about how she organizes how she uses a weekly planner day planners, several alarms backup systems to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks. Sharon Contreras who was a former superintendent of schools in North Carolina has a hearing loss and when she shared that information about having the hearing loss, one of the students came up to her afterward and the student shared her own cochlear implant that she had gotten in reassured the superintendent that she was going to be okay with she had that cochlear implant done. So in this case, the superintendent was being reassured by the student that it was going to help so there's a lot of advantages for individuals, both adults and children to share in a comfortable, safe, non threatening environment about their disability issues.

Mickie  10:12  
But I would never recommend that you do or don't do that automatically sharing your knowledge of your disability is an individual decision. And it's something that students have to make whenever they talk to a professor. It's something that parents have to make whenever they talk to a teacher, or when a parent talks to their child about their own issues and about their own struggles. These are always, always always individual decisions that have to be based on the circumstances that are happening. At that point, deciding to speak out and share your own story is a very personal decision. And that's why when your child enters the college environment, once they turn 18, the Disability Services advisors and counselors cannot talk to you about your child's disability without your child's permission, because now that child has the right at that point to keep that disability private or to share it publicly. And some students are very open and they don't care. Who knows. And other students, the first question they would ask me is who's going to find out about my disability and is the professor going to know when your child gets their accommodation memo from disability services, all that does is it identifies to the professor that your child has self identified with Disability Services Office, and because of that reason, they are entitled to the following accommodations. It will not identify anywhere on that memo, what the disability is. And I say this in all sincerity, the decision to share is a personal one. I have had students who shared and it backfired on them and I have had students who shared and it was a beautiful thing, and it made all the difference in the world. It has to be an individual's own decision about sharing their experiences once they reach the age of 18, and are now under the FERPA law, Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. If you are interested in more FERPA information, check out podcast episode number four, where I talk about it when I discussed the differences between high school and college when a student has a disability. Thank you for joining me today. As usual, any resources that I have will be in my show notes at the end of the podcast. If you would like to have my podcasts directly delivered to your inbox, I created a link on my website under the Resources page. And you can go there and just sign up and every episode from here on out will automatically be delivered to your email directly. You can also send me an email at Mickie teachers M I C K i e And I'll make sure you get every copy after that, please check out my resources on Mickie For any additional other information that I have on my website. There's a lot of good stuff on there that hopefully you will find helpful. In the meantime, we will talk again soon so you take care and have a great rest of the day. Bye. Information contained throughout this podcast has been gleaned from my own personal experiences, but to ensure accuracy. Please contact the Disability Services at the college of your choice to have firsthand information and the most up to date policies and procedures followed for your particular institution of higher education. The content in any of these podcasts is not intended as a substitute for information from legal, educational or medical professionals. Always seek the advice of your attorney or qualified health care provider with any questions you may have with regards to illegal educational or medical concerns.

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