Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
Disability: ADHD & Dyslexia
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to sit down with Tayler, a 22-year-old woman living in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Adam: Hi, Tayler. Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me, especially on a topic as personal as your disability.
Tayler: Yeah, no problem. I don’t mind.
Adam: Alright, Tayler. How about we start with you telling me a little bit about how you got diagnosed with your disability and what disabilities you have? However, please only go into as much detail as you feel comfortable.
Tayler: Okay, so pretty much I was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia when I was 17-years-old. I pretty much had been figuring everything out on my own up until that point because I hadn’t had a psychoeducational assessment until that point. I remember I was going into university the next year, I had just got accepted into a one-year educational assistant program.
Adam: Can you tell me a little bit about your experience with ADHD and dyslexia?
Tayler: In general, learning has been hard. Because of my dyslexia, interpreting written information was a struggle. In order to understand things, I had to read it multiple times. I would do this thing where in order to interpret the context of the sentence, I would understand a certain percentage of the words and then kinda piece them together to make a sentence.
Adam: It sounds like it took you a long time to get through stuff!
Tayler: Oh, yeah, it did. I wanna say it probably took me two or three times longer than it would take anyone else to understand what I was reading. It was just so tough putting the words together to understand what I was reading. That’s still something I struggle with today, but I find ways around it.
Adam: What kind of things do you do to accommodate your disability?
Tayler: Like I said, I definitely find ways around it. The important thing is to just find strategies to help you get better…anything to help you get through it. School was hard because I didn’t want to spend double or triple the time to read a textbook. I can’t afford to spend, like, 4 hours understanding something. It would just make me frustrated, upset or annoyed. Instead I focused more on learning through talking and conversation rather than lectures.
Adam: What do you mean by talking and conversations?
Tayler: Like seminars. In seminars you get the chance to listen and speak instead of just listening in lectures. I found that I was actually able to understand things better when I spoke to the professor and talked about.
Adam: I like that. You recognized that you had a weakness in something and you found a way to work around it while still attending school. That’s important because sometimes when people hear, “you have ______ disability,” others hear it as a right-off to accomplish things in life.
Tayler: Honestly, Adam, I know exactly what you mean. I actually had a bad experience when I first got diagnosed with my disabilities during my psychoeducational assessment. The psychiatrist who I saw was telling my mom that there wasn’t a point of going to university because I would just fail out.
Adam: That’s terrible! But look where you are now!
Tayler: Yeah but look where I am now! I’m in university and I’m doing really well.
Adam: If you had to give any advice to another person out there in the world, someone with the same disability as you, what would you say?
Tayler: You need to have perseverance and patience. Fine, something doesn’t come as easy as you than other people, but it doesn’t mean you can’t work at it. Read it once, twice, three times, over and over again until it makes sense. But also, know your limits. If something isn’t working for you, get the information in a version that works for you. Personally, I like listening to my lectures rather than reading notes. Another thing I would say is not to be afraid to ask for help. I think there’s a lot of stigma associated with having a disability, but there’s nothing wrong with getting help if you need it.
Adam: That’s some really awesome advice. I think we’re about to wrap up, but before we go, if you could go back in time, what would you say to your younger self about dealing with your disability?
Tayler: I would say that there’s strategies out there to help you. Whenever you feel hopeless, just know that there’s something there to help you. You just have to find it.
Adam: Great, thank you, Tayler. And thank you so much for taking the time to talk about your experiences. Your comments are really going to have an impact on our readers.
Tayler: My pleasure, Adam. Glad I could help.