I truly love the hidden benefits of Spring, so many of us fail to stop and realize. But lets do just that, Stop and Notice.
Spring is calling us all to rise out of our winter hibernation, notice the benefit of additional light,  offered invitation in the open sidewalks, the sound and actions of the birds returning, temperatures warm enough we can open our windows and let the fresh air in.  Spring provides invitations to unlimited new opportunities for us all to embrace, chances to get out and reconnect with friends, enjoying eating outside again, become Love-Struck or as Disney says in Bambi, “Twitterpated” and most importantly to become excited, open and willing to welcome change.
This is also a exciting time of year for those planning weddings, graduation or a new pivot within their life journey. Yet, for those of us living with disabilities fear can rise in these and other changes, but let me encourage you to step up and take a chance on yourself, shake that fear of and go for it!
Just as you heard from our student Nikki, her vision and perspective grew as she chose to learn more about disability needs as a future social worker, she stepping up to find out and embracing the opportunity in her student placement with us this year. We are truly grateful that she felt called to place this experience in her toolbox as she moves on to become an amazing social worker for our community in the future. All learning and growth needs a first step, are you ready to change and make a positive pivot this spring.
Myself, Nikki and many others grasp hold of the powerful energy Spring ignites inside us to motivate change. One of these changes might be to decide to register for higher education that could aid in opening new doors to your future.
Today, students with disabilities make up 19% of the undergraduate population. That’s nearly 1 in 5 undergraduate college students reported having a disability. Also 12% of graduate students reported having a disability. In 2022, the American College Health Association (ACHA) surveyed 54,000 undergraduate students and found:
  • 15% of college students reported having ADD or ADHD
  • 5%  had learning disabilities
  • 4% were blind or had low vision
  • 3% were autistic
  • 2% were Deaf or hard of hearing
  • 1% had mobility or dexterity disabilities
  • 1% had speech or language disability
Did you know that Dyslexia is the most common learning disability. According to The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, dyslexia makes up 80-90% of all learning disabilities and affects 20% off the population. Post secondary students with dyslexia may have difficulty reading, writing, spelling or recalling words but are not limited to these areas because dyslexia surfaces in many different ways. Disabilities are also more prevalent among LGBTQ+ adults then in their cis, straight peers.
No matter how you look at it we are part of the make up of student populations everywhere and need to be heard when it comes to the realities of our educational needs and ways that the educational organizations can work with us to reduce the tragic gaps that require illuminating. It would be so nice for all of us if the professors were trained about disability accommodations.
When I reflect back to my own university studies and the ways the system missed the mark to truly accommodate my learning challenges, there was definitely room for improvement. One example I can think of was a time I was asked to write an exam, because they had the room and person booked to oversee the process, yet I hadn’t received the correct course material (written text vs online) to accommodate my learning needs which would assist me to absorb the material effectively. So I was set up to write the exam due to the scheduling needs of the school rather than my true accommodation requirements. Years later in this roll at VAD I come across many students that have a wide range of limitations, yet their true needs may not be listened to effectively. An example that came up this week was one lady who was asked to write the same test for the 3rd time, having a disability and English as a second language and failed once again without proper accommodation. Two years of her life invested, financial cost etc to be told she can’t write the test again. Far too often the educational accommodation target is being missed. Although this is still a challenge out there for many of us living with disabilities, please don’t give up, take time shake it off and embrace the uplifting power of Spring. A new course or program could be the seed for an amazing future. Never give up and continue to strive towards your dreams, challenges will always be in front of us, its our energy and motivation that will make that difference.
Spring can also bring on a feeling of needing to change or grow when it comes to getting a job or pivoting into a new career. Spring brings on that motivation to begin to look and gain confidence in yourself again. New opportunities are all around us it’s our choice to grasp one and take the first step. Here’s a few places to check out as you begin this new exciting adventure:
Spring can also be a great time to chose to begin a new exercise program or a social program that get’s you out there and connected with others. Try something new this year and embrace all that Spring offers.