Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Talking Learning Challenges/Disabilities Part 1...

Happy Tuesday All,

This is the beginning of a very special blog series I'm doing with two other authors. Please be respectful of all those involved. Thank you!

There are young people in the world struggling with learning differences (sometimes called learning disabilities) who may or may not feel they aren’t as good as those who don’t have these disabilities/challenges.

The three of us—Bethany Averie, Ryan Jo Summers, and Christie Craig—have all faced learning disabilities/difficulties and based on our personal experiences, and what we see in the world today, were inspired to share our own stories with you.

We’ll be posting each author’s Q&A style on all our blogs for the next few weeks, starting with Bethany Averie. The next week will feature Ryan Jo Summers, then the following week will be Christie Craig. The same interview will appear on each author’s blog, for example—Bethany’s interview will be on her own blog, Ryan Jo’s, and Christie’s for the first week, then Ryan Jo’s will be on everyone’s blog the next, then Christie’s will follow in the last week.

Our wish is for you teens and young adults to never be afraid to dream big. In a world where less than someone’s definition of perfect can mean the difference between acceptance and rejection, we want you to stand up and pursue those dreams no matter if you do face learning disabilities/difficulties. Don’t let those things stop you. If we can do it, so you can you.

Given the sensitive nature of this topic, we ask that those who choose to comment only post positive and encouraging comments. We’re wanting to build people up and inspire them, not bring them down.

So, here are our stories, and we wish you all the best.

Briefly tell us about yourself (your name, your YA story titles,
anything else you wish to say about yourself):

Hi, my name is Bethany Averie. I’m a wife, mother, and writer. My YA Trilogy, Immortal Dreams (Divine Love, Astral Love, Immortal Love) are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

My favorite colors are purple and green (and somehow manage to be in my novels whether I’m consciously or unconsciously aware of it).

When I was growing up, the YA genre didn’t have as diverse selection as it does now. It’s amazing to see genres grow and expand. It’s also awesome if you’re a writer like me, because then you have more room to “play” (AKA, create).

What are your learning disabilities/difficulties and do you remember how/when you were diagnosed?

I was diagnosed with Learning Disabilities when I was about 11 or 12 years old. I was in the 6th grade. My parents home schooled me because I was having a lot of trouble in “Regular school”. It became apparent to my mom that I learned very differently from my other siblings (I’m one of 8 kids, if you can believe it—it’s true! I’m second-to-the-youngest in my family). She found out about this learning clinic and I went and got diagnosed. My two
biggest disabilities are called Visual Spatial and Auditory Memory. Basically for the Visual I can see something but I have a lot of trouble reproducing it. That one made copying things off the board extremely difficult. What was up there was never quite what I had in my notebook, which I found frustrating. The Auditory Memory has to deal with hearing a series of things and what I remember. Before I went for remediation at the learning clinic I could only remember the last thing a teacher said in a series of instructions. For example, if a teacher said, “Okay, class, take out your math books, turn to page eighty-three, and do problems one through ten.” I’d only remember I was supposed to do problems one through ten. I wouldn’t know what book or page. It didn’t matter if I had been paying close attention or not, that’s all I’d remember.

After remediation at the learning clinic, I got better at remembering a series. But sometimes I still have to have people slow down and repeat several times what they said, which can be embarrassing.

I have other learning disabilities, but those are the two big ones.

Since finding out, what are your emotions towards your learning disabilities/difficulties? Why?

At first I was devastated. How could I be so different from my peers? I didn’t want to stand out any more than I already did (I stood out because I couldn’t run fast, I didn’t grow up with a television in my house until I was 12, and people thought I was weird because I didn’t know all the things that were popular at the time. I was a total ‘fish-out-of-water’). Now I also couldn’t learn like they did—I was SLOW at it. So, yeah, it totally bugged me.

Eventually I got over it. Remediation helped. My sessions were a lot of fun and interesting. In high school, all my Standardized testing (whether practice or real) were untimed so I had a chance to give each question the attention I needed to understand them and put in my answer.

I learned how to touch-type on the computer, which improved other areas of my life—spelling, handwriting, and I began writing.

I started writing stories probably in Junior High—nothing I would publish, but it was a wonderful creative outlet for me. As the years went on, that love of creating new worlds and writing only grew until I got to where I am now—a published author and working on new stories.

Nowadays I don’t mind my learning disabilities as much. In fact, I find them fascinating. Everyone learns differently whether they have learning disabilities or not, because everybody thinks and processes differently. My learning disabilities help me recognize any learning difficulties in my kids, which has proven useful. So, in a sense, it’s cool that I have them. They are part of what makes me who I am in general. And, in general, I like myself. Of course there
are things I want to improve upon, but I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t want to make themselves a better person, so I’m in good company.

What would you say to someone who has them who thinks they’re not as good as other people because they have learning disabilities/difficulties?

Having learning disabilities/difficulties/differences (whatever you want to call them) doesn’t make you “not as good” or a “failure”. It’s something that makes you uniquely you. Revel in being different. Too many people want to be just like someone else. If were all exactly alike how boring would life be? Differences keep things interesting.

And you wouldn’t believe what opens up for you when you have learning disabilities. Because you learn differently, sometimes you have to get creative in how you remember, process, and put together what you learn. For someone like me—who loves to create—this is a huge opportunity to use my imagination and figure out what works best for me. And I’m always learning something new about myself, what works, or what could work. It’s a lot like how I write my novels—figure out what the story is, what goes together, and what doesn’t.

How have your learning disabilities/difficulties shaped you/what you do?

Sometimes I have to take a little longer to do things. But that’s GOOD because it helps me to slow down and catch mistakes, which helps during my editing process. Being able to correct myself makes some things easier. I’ve learned how not to be ashamed of how I learn and work, but to use them to develop into a better person and writer.

Briefly tell us about your Young Adult (YA) books, etc.:

My Immortal Dreams Trilogy is a Greek mythology-inspired story about an 18 year old girl named Laney Alberts. After meeting the new boy in her class, Jason Magnus, Laney finds out nothing is what she thought it was. The revelation of just how different things are take her on an incredible adventure on Earth, Mount Olympus, and even the Underworld in an effort to save both Human and Immortals from a goddess bent on world domination.


Liz said...

Thank you!! It's so important to shine a light on this. I can't wait to share the next post with my son.

Bethany said...


Best wishes to your son! Learning disabilities/challenges can make things hard, but that shouldn't stop anyone. All 3 of us authors have different ones and stories and if we can help/encourage just one person then fabulous! Also look into the stories we have available. A lot of imagination goes into our writing.

Thank you so much for dropping by and acommenting!