(11 minutes) Dr. April J. Lisbon believes the differences in our brains can really be our super powers. In this episode, she speaks with self-advocate Ricki Carter. Ricki shares her journey with dyslexia and dyscalculia.
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Welcoming Ricki Carter
Dr. April Lisbon (AL): Welcome to “Finding the Super Powers Within”. I am your host Dr. April J. Lisbon. Today our special guest is Ricki Carter. Ricki is an 18-year-old student, who is going to show with us a little bit about her superpower dyslexia. Welcome to our show Ricki.
Ricki Carter (RC): Hi, welcome. Thank you for having me.
AL: Awesome! So, let’s go ahead and get started. Can you tell our listening audience and our viewing audience, when did you first learn that you were dyslexic?
RC: I must say about 13 I learned I was dyslexic. My mother was like, I was in school and I was like feeling my grades was dropping and everything, so my mom was like, you know, this is not looking right, like why are you doing this. So, she took me to go get tested and everything and I was in Philadelphia school system at this time and they were saying, “Nothing’s wrong with Ricky, Ricki is fine, she’s doing well in school, she’s very good”. And my mother is like, “No, I don’t think so because you know when she’s at home she, you know, it takes her forever to do her homework, it takes her forever to write essays but you saying here she know how to do everything and her tests and everything is good, but at home it’s a different story, so I think of something else”. So, I remember when they took me to go get tested they finally said that Ricky, I have dyslexia.
AL: Wow, so when you’re talking about that you did very well in school can you share with us a little bit about what that means, because I know sometimes for some individuals with dyslexia sometimes their grade maybe like C’s, B’s and A’s. But they’re still struggling with basic vocabulary and comprehension. So, can you tell our listening and our viewing audience exactly what that looks like for you?
RC: So, in school, like, I was very like, English was not my strong suit. Not at all, because I was not able to comprehend, like, certain words when I would come to reading, like, I did not like reading at all because when we had to read chapter questions. I was never interested in reading with them and I was never like paying attention because it bored me at a certain time, but when it came to like sight words and everything I was really good, like, we did vocabulary tests, I was very good at those, but when it comes to comprehension I was terrible, but to my teacher, my teacher thought I was doing good, I guess my teacher didn’t want me to see that side, like see that I was doing bad, she wanted to, like, you know, say that I was doing good but at the same time I felt like I wasn’t doing great at all, and I felt like they was just hiding that from me, but as I got older I started to see that, yeah, English it not my strong suit. Not at all.
AL: So, as you continue to think through this journey from 13 to where you are now can you share with our listening audience some of the trials and triumphs that you have experienced throughout your school career. I know you already shared that you know English was a little bit of a challenge for you and reading and just comprehending the reading was a task. What other things did you actually experience throughout your journey from ages 13 to where you are to present?
RC: Another thing that I discovered about myself like probably around the age of like 15, maybe 14 is that I have dyscalculia and which is that, you know, I’m bad with numbers and that was the signs and everything so that means lets you give me an equation and it has different operations in it, it’s going to take me awhile than everybody else, to you know break that down because I got to remember the formulas and how the steps go and, you know, the signs get twisted to me. I think sometimes that multiplication is like, you know, like maybe adding and, you know, fractions I cannot reciprocate fractions for nothing. Fractions is terrible for me. That’s the most “nope!”. And my mother always tried to help me with my multiplication. I only can remember to easy ones which my even numbers, but I could never could even remember all the numbers.
AL: Wow, so it sounds like throughout your journey you’ve always had difficulties with reading and math, but because people were just looking at the, what I call the output, the actual grades, it was just so challenging for them to believe that you may have had a reading disability or even a math disability. My next question to you is this. When you think about who you are and where you are today, what is one or two things that you would want to tell your younger self about your journey with dyslexia and dyscalculia?
RC: I would tell my younger self that you, you’re able to do it, just look at your older self. See me now, I’m doing good you know I’m doing better and when you was younger don’t let nobody tell you otherwise because if you knew, if you know, that it’s something that’s going on make that aware and then make them realize that this is wrong with you because the teachers really they really wasn’t trying to realize that you were struggling when it comes to reading and you were struggling when it comes to math, because they thought your grades overlapped of what you’re really struggling with. A second thing I will always say is just try to do better at reading because even though the younger you, you liked reading but as you got older start you know stop reading but I want you to stay at that place that you was like reading was really like you wanted to get better at reading, better at comprehension because as the older me, I stopped reading after a while, and I don’t know why, but I need to start reading again.
AL: Awesome I think that’s some amazing advice that you provided Ricki. So, in addition to your younger self, what can parents, or advocates do to support a child or young adult with dyslexia and dyscalculia? What would you, what kind of strategies would you tell us so that we can better support our children?
RC: I’m going to start with dyscalculia. Some strategies that I would give you is have basically have your child do your things separately so when it comes to let’s say they have things like multiplication and division and they have other things like adding and subtracting. Try to separate them too, because you know sometimes if you put it together they’ll get jumbled up and confused, and they get overwhelmed. So, try to give them less, and give them less, and try to build up at like over the time. So, start with less multiplication, and if you feel like they’re doing good, keep going and keep going. Same with division if you start small and then keep going, and keep going, and keep going. Then with dyslexia, see I only have dyslexia with comprehension, so I would say is just basically, just help your child when it comes to reading and help them understand, and basically ask questions throughout every story that they’re reading so they understand what is going on throughout the story because, the child might not understand the main ideal or the plot of the story so as you asking questions as they read can help them better understand what they’re reading and it can verbally be repeated back to you of what they have read.
AL: I think those are some great advice for our listening audience so my final question before we wrap this up is this. Where do you see yourself one year from now have after doing today interview?
RC: One year from now? I see myself basically helping others when it comes to this, like, when it comes to this dyscalculia or dyslexia because there are a lot of students or lot of children out there that really don’t understand their disability and for me to understand, and it took me a while to understand my disability, for me to want to share that, it’s going to be very helpful, because children don’t need, they don’t need to go through that and if their don’t parents don’t understand and you have somebody else to understand, so if you have someone that’s older and there’s someone that’s their age for them to understand because sometimes children don’t want to understand their parent, but they want to understand someone that is an adolescent, or somewhere around their age. I just want to be their guide to children that has dyscalculia and dyslexia
AL: Well I think that is, that is awesome, and I agree with you, you know more times than not people who have the same superpower as you do, they want to know that there’s someone else that’s just like them that’s out of there. Someone who understands the highs of their superpowers as well as the lows that come with it. So, the fact that you are willing to share this with other moms or dads, advocates and other people with dyslexia and dyscalculia is amazing to me and I applaud you so much. Is there anything else that you want to leave our listening and our viewing audience for today?
RC: I just want to say to you guys that you are able, you are capable of doing whatever you choose to even though your disability may have the best of you. Just know that your disability does not define you, you define your disability. Just do what you want to do and believe in yourself.
AL: You heard it hear ladies and gentlemen. As Ricki said and said so clearly, you define your disability, your disability does not define you. Once again, I want to take this opportunity to thank Ricki Carter for joining us today on “Finding the Super Powers Within”. I am your host Dr. April J Lisbon. Thank you all and have a great day.