Hello! I’m Michaela Hearst and I’m a Learning Disabilities Advocate and a student at Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. I graduate with my Master’s very soon! I was diagnosed with Nonverbal Learning Disorder (NVLD) and Learning Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (LD-NOS) when I was 14. Now, I’m studying to become a Social Worker so I can work with individuals who have learning disabilities. For my Social Work Research class, I’m conducting a study about young adults with NVLD, and for my Professional Seminar class, I’m working on a PowerPoint presentation to educate parents of children with learning disabilities. As a person with a learning disability, I face challenges every day. I use my experiences, struggles, and strengths to educate others. I keep persevering because I remind myself of why I started this journey in the first place.Each day is a stepping stone into what my life is and will be.
MICHAELA'S 12 RULES FOR LIFE (at least right now...)
Iced coffee is the only coffee worth drinking. You can’t change my mind (unless it’s cappuccino).
Set consistent short-term goals for yourself. For me, that’s winning a trophy at my next race and continuing to play my guitar in public.
Take comfort in knowing there are others who understand your struggles. You aren’t alone. Make connections.
It can be so tempting to compare yourself to others, but do your best to focus on your own journey and successes.
When people don’t understand what it’s like to have LD or they doubt your ability, keep fighting back. Rely on your support system.
Admit when you’re burned out, but realize that even in your worst moments, you’re stronger than you might think you are.
Self-care, self-care, self-care. It’s not always glamorous; it’s typically not spontaneous trips halfway across the world. Maybe it’s meditation, practicing gratitude, properly eating and sleeping, making sure you’re in good mental and physical health, and much more.
Find something positive in every day.
As often as you can, do what you love and what makes you happy.
Surround yourself with people who love and care for you.
So many things (including these “rules for life right now”) are easier said than done. Take it one day, one moment at a time.
To everyone with LD-you are validated. I see you. I hear you. I will fight for you.
Some things to think about: What's useful about rules? Have your “12 rules” changed at all over the years? Is there one that you think is a MUST?
Michaela most recently graduated with her MSW from Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. Prior to earning her Master's, she graduated from Manhattanville College with a Bachelor’s in Psychology, and from Landmark College with an Associate Degree in Liberal Studies. She also has a Master’s Certificate in Dyslexia Studies and Language-Based Learning Disabilities from Southern New Hampshire University. Currently, Michaela is a new member of NCLD's Young Adult Leadership Council, a Project Social Ambassador for the NVLD Project, and has blogged for Understood.org.
If you would like to contribute a blog to Friends of Quinn, feel free to reach out! We are currently looking for new voices to share their experiences living and thriving with LD's. You can contact us through the website here directly, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks and we can't wait to hear from you!