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  • Tanyah Cain

From Dyslexia to Expertise: Unmasking the Untold Journey of Triumph Over Adversity

For my first blog post, I want to share the inspiring story of an individual who triumphed over addiction, dyslexia, and ADHD to become an expert in behavior change. This tale is a testament to resilience, determination, and the ability to transform adversity into an opportunity to help others. My life's journey has been a remarkable one, filled with unexpected twists and turns that no one, not even my own family, could have predicted. Over the years, I've worn many hats – from an educational leader to a special educator and a guidance counselor. Along this path, I earned a bachelor's degree, a master's degree, two neurological certifications, and delved deep into the fields of psychology, quantum physics, and hypnosis. Today, I run my own business, dedicated to assisting individuals facing challenges in school, work, or life. It all began when I started facing difficulties in school, and suspicions of dyslexia emerged, given the family history of this condition. It became apparent early on, as early as first grade, that I had dyslexia. However, this revelation didn't initially trouble me much. I had an aunt in England who was a specialist in the field and encouraged my parents to have me tested. Unfortunately, like so many others, my parents encountered resistance from the school and had to contact the Psychological and Pedagogical Counseling Service (PPT) directly for testing. As a child, I interpreted these actions as a sign that something was inherently wrong with me because I was being tested for dyslexia. When my parents finally received confirmation of my dyslexia diagnosis, there was a sense of relief. It meant I was entitled to accommodations, and they could seek additional support for me. They applied for extra resources, but unfortunately, the school insisted that other students in my class had greater needs, and I had to share those resources with three others, as they wanted to focus on the disruptive students. These additional sessions felt deeply stigmatizing and added to my sense of not fitting in. Instead of boosting my enthusiasm for learning and a sense of accomplishment, the extra time was spent on drilling letter sounds, double consonants, and more. Several times a week, the extra teacher would come into the classroom and whisk me and the other "problem" children away. The shame I felt seemed endless, with all the other students watching us as we were led out of the class. I wished more than anything to be just like everyone else. I felt isolated as the only girl and somewhat fearful of the rowdy boys in my extra class. The rest of the class labeled us the "retarded" group. Looking back, I realize that one of the things I found most distressing was that I was never asked what I wanted or how I experienced the help provided. Today, as a helper myself, I focus on communication with students, paying close attention to their body language and voices. The most significant help I received in elementary school came from an aunt who recognized my artistic talents and taught me strategies and techniques to assist with learning letters and math. Today, I'm not an advocate for extra hours in school, especially if they don't involve a greater emphasis on students' wishes and interests. Personally, I didn't benefit much from the interventions implemented at school. Despite having a handful of papers diagnosing my dyslexia, my grades remained the same. I took the same tests as everyone else in the class, but since my curriculum was reduced, I had no chance of answering them. In retrospect, I've often wondered whether diagnoses serve as a crutch for the school system. In my work at special schools and in my role at PPT, I've frequently encountered an attitude suggesting that children with diagnoses cannot be expected to perform as well as others. A teacher at a special school where I worked once told me about one of his students, "She's not the sharpest tool in the shed." I wanted a permanent job at the school, so I kept my thoughts on his comment to myself. Diagnoses tend to become self-fulfilling prophecies. They say you can't know how the students would have fared without special education. My personal opinion is that they might have had fewer psychological difficulties. Elementary school, in general, wasn't a positive experience for me. I recall those years as heavy and painful. I was often bullied for giving wrong answers in class, for being English, for being overweight, and for various other reasons. There was one boy in particular who took great pleasure in bullying me. He would cover his nose and pretend to be nauseated when I walked by. I remember an incident where he actually stuck his finger down his throat and vomited as I passed by. I believe that much of the bullying and my difficulties at school led me to escape into my own little world through daydreams. I would daydream about being popular, exceptionally smart, and a star student. As a child, I daydreamed about having an incredible memory and the ability to read other people's thoughts. As an adult, I compensated by immersing myself in the study of brain development and psychology. School was challenging for me because I often found solace in my daydreams. In my fantasies, I was a world champion in all knowledge. Teachers frequently noted in my report cards that I daydreamed a lot and never seemed to have my things in order. My poor memory during childhood is well-documented and ingrained. My mother used to say that I would forget my head if it weren't attached. I forgot pretty much everything, most of the time. At times, my parents became quite frustrated, and at times, even exasperated. My entire life, I've felt rather hopeless and expended an enormous amount of energy trying to reprogram this within myself. I remember that my mother often had to go to school to retrieve bags filled with things I had forgotten or, worse yet, had to repurchase them at the annual flea markets. Today, these stories are a source of great joy for the students who come to me, heads hung low. My own experiences in school, along with all the years I've spent in daycare, primary education, the Psychological and Pedagogical Counseling Service (PPT), and as a mentor in my own business, have convinced me that our current education system needs a radical overhaul. Our children are not thriving within it. The system does not foster their best potential, nor does it encourage them to feel exceptional in any way. I've sat through countless meetings with young individuals who have lost faith in themselves and the education system. Later, I encounter these same students who didn't receive the help they needed, and they find themselves in various difficult situations such as social services, prison, psychiatric care, substance abuse, or unemployment. These young people tell me that they perceive school as a prison, a place where they are not allowed to have their own thoughts or opinions unless they align with what the school dictates. They feel that the curriculum is no longer relevant to their lives, and they don't receive the knowledge they truly crave. In light of this, I've spent years working on an alternative educational project that is finally taking shape. If you share my passion for this cause, I need your assistance. Please follow my blog and like and share my content on Facebook and wherever you can. We need an uprising to secure the funds to start our first pilot school project.

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