The Time I Overcame

This is a new story series! The Time I overcame…. The first story comes from Ailsa.  I hope everyone likes this new series. Take it away, Ailsa.

Hi everyone, I am Ailsa, and I am the proud owner of Brains on Wheels. Brains on Wheels is my personal blog, where I write about my experiences surrounding my disabilities. I would like to thank Amanda for letting me write for her blog…

Today I would like to talk about how proud I am to have achieved my English GCSE at a grade 3.

In England, we have an education system where people who are 14 – 16 take exams called GCSEs, which stands for General Certificate of Secondary Education. Genually, pupils around 16 years of age take their GCSEs. As far as I am aware, and in my experience, most GCSEs consist of coursework and exams. Some have more than one piece of coursework, some have more than one exam. It all depends on the subject

In June 2013, I took my GCSEs. I took all of the core (required) subjects; English, Mathematics, ICT (I got the highest grade in ICT), and combined Science (Biology, Chemistry and Physics). I chose to take one other subject: Health and Social Care. I sat each exam, I have double the amount of time to complete each paper. Everything went well in my exams, I am proud of my grades.

For the English exam, there were three components to make up the final grade; Controlled Assessments, also known as coursework, Speaking and Listening, and one written paper. I did all three parts.

In all my exams, I am aloud up to 100% extra time because it takes me longer to read and get my thoughts written down. I am also entitled to a reader, a scribe (writer) and rest breaks. It took me about five hours to complete my English exams! I made it! From analysing and comparing texts, to writing a short narrative, I did the lot. Five hours later, I was absolutely exhausted!

Then came Results Day. I went all the way back to my senior school, which was Portchester Community School to collect my GCSE results. When I arrived, first of all I had a quick natter with my friends, and met up with the LSA I had helping over the five years I was at the school. I took my results envelop and opened it… All of my results were as expected, apart from one subject: English.

Back then GCSE grades went from A* (which was the highest) to the lowest grade of G. U was ungraded.

I was predicted to get a D in English at school. When I looked at my English grade, the paper said that I got a G. On the paper, it had the grade broken down into three sections: Coursework, the Speaking and Listening, and the exam. I had marks for the coursework and the Speaking and Listening exam, but they had my result for the paper marked as 0!

I was so upset with this! English has always been one of my strongest subjects and to go through this was horrible. After a lot of conversations between my mum, school, the exam board and I, we found out that the exam board had lost the paper with my answers written on. We were all incredibly angry about this. The rules say that if the exam boards lose someone’s paper, they have to give the candidate their predicted grade. The exam board announced that they had “found” my paper and gave me an F. To this day, all of us think that they never found my paper, and they didn’t want to give me my predicted grade, so they just picked any old grade to give me.

Anyway, when I was about to start, the staff at my college (UK) said that if I didn’t get a grade C or above, they would help me to get a higher grade. I can’t remember when, but when I asked about re-sitting my English GCSE, they refused to give me the opportunity on the grounds that I wasn’t working at the appropriate level. They also said that I “wouldn’t be able to cope” in a mainstream class, even though I went through mainstream schools. This made me extremely angry, and even more determined to prove them wrong.

We made a deal that if I passed Level 1 and 2 Functional Skills English, I could then re-sit my GCSE. Functional Skills English has never been practical for me because the writing part has to either be hand-written or typed on a computer. Even though I am able to use a computer with my feet, when I get stressed or emotional, my mussels refuse to function effectively. As a result, I couldn’t type very well or quickly and before I knew it, my time was up. Straight away I knew that I didn’t write enough to pass. I took this exam twice, and the second time around, I passed!

They finally allowed me to join a GCSE English class after passing Level 1. I did well in the classes, but the college still would not let me take the GCSE. I took the class for two or three years before I was allowed to take the exam. I watched lots of other students; my peers gearing up for their exams, knowing that I wasn’t going to be taking the exam with them.

By the time I was put in to do the GCSE English exam, in 2018, the system had changed completely. The grades changed from A* to G, to 1 to 9. I had to learn a new set of skills for this exam, which wasn’t that bad, but it was still annoying. I was just lucky that I had a fantastic teacher!

The good thing about the exam changing is that it was a shorter exam. I still got double the time take the written exam, but because it was shorter, it was easier. I still did the Speaking and Listening exam with the same amount of time as the rest of the people doing this exam though.

When I came out of my last exam, I was so excited and proud of myself for doing it that I screamed at the top of my lungs. One of the things that I said was “in your face!”, I know that was a bit childish, but I don’t really care because I waited so long to do it. I just want to thank the people who believed in me and gave me the chance to do this. It really was an amazing feeling!

It just goes to show that you should believe in yourself and you should never take ‘no’ for an answer. If you want something that much, you should fight for it!

Thank you for reading this blog post, I hope that you have enjoyed reading about my achievement! Feel free to visit my blog, subscribe and follow me on Social Media…

Brains on Wheels (blog) – http://ailsas.wixsite.com/brainsonwheels

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/BlogbyAilsa

Twitter – https://twitter.com/BlogbyAilsa and https://twitter.com/AilsaSpeak

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.co.uk/4il5a

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/ailsa.k.speak

How I’m coping with the COVID-19 virus

I have seen and heard many reports about the COVID-19 virus that is spreading over the world. I feel sorry for what has been happening and I have been praying for a cure for some time.

So far things are normal for me. I am continuing to write and think of new ideas as I stay at home to help do my part in fighting the virus.

I feel that keeping busy has helped me with the anxiety I have been feeling about the pandemic. I been keeping myself occupied by reading An Irish Country Family by Patrick Taylor. In addition to that, I have been keeping up with my blog posts, edited my book, and producing my YouTube videos.

In my spare time, I have been watching a variety of shows on Netflix. I have been watching a lot of cartoons from Looney Tunes to Garfield.

I have been doing my regular chores, such as laundry, dishes, and yardwork.

Whenever I get anxious about the virus, I find that talking with friends on social media helps to alleviate it. My anxiety is more heighten at nighttime for some reason. To help with this, I play rainstorm sounds on my Alexa device, and I run my essential oil diffuser.  I love the scent of lavender; it helps me get a good night’s sleep.

If we all pull together and do our parts, hopefully we will be successful in this fight against this virus.

What have you been doing to keep yourselves busy while we are told to stay home?

 

Three tips to help improve handwriting

March is Cerebral Palsy awareness month. I have seen parents on many social media platforms raise concern about how Cerebral Palsy can affect their children’s handwriting. To help raise awareness, here is three tips to help improve your little one’s handwriting:

  1. Pick a teaching curriculum that is easy to follow and easy to teach. When I was going through Physical and Occupational Therapy, I was taught two different methods of handwriting. One was taught through the school system and one was taught at the local military base where I lived in Texas at the time. Because I was already used to the one from the school system, the other method I learned at the military base confused me. As a result, I ended up using the HandWriting WithOut Tears method from my Occupational Therapist at my local school. That method was easy for me to learn.

2. Strengthening hand muscles! I loved this activity when I was a child. Because having strong muscles is a key in improving handwriting, they used this play activity to help improve my muscle strength in my hands. I had to do other activities such as stretching a rubber band and playing with jumping plastic frogs. I found that these activities were some of my favorites.  Even though my Physical and Occupational Therapy stopped when I was around 14, They told to continue to keep my hand muscles tight by working with either TherapyPuddy Or Playdoh 😊

3. Stay positive and practice. This is the most important piece of advice that I can give. When I entered the sixth grade, my Occupational Therapist and my mother decided to stop teaching me to write in cursive. Their reason was because my handwriting did not improve like they hoped. I was only taught, in cursive, how to write my signature.

My printing is much better than cursive.  After that year, I worked on Typing. I have found reports stating that the Therapist was doubtful that I would ever be a good typist. During my senior year of high school, I started having problems taking notes. I experienced hand cramps and a lot of pain. To combat this, they gave a small keyboard to take notes. This enabled me to type the notes I needed.  At my last typing test, I typed 97 words per minute. Not too bad for someone who was told that they would never be able to type. As far as the cursive goes, I pushed myself with that too. With the help of my low vision teacher, and a positive attitude, I was able to learn all my letter and my handwriting has improved. Don’t give up on your child. Keep positive and you will see some amazing results.

Nothing in this post is sponsored in any way. This post is based off my own childhood memories and experiences. If you are concerned about your child’s handwriting or health, please speak with the proper medical professionals.

2020: More Courage, Self-Control, and Joy-February Edition

February was filled with lots of tears. Some of them were due to sadness, anger, uncertainty and joy. However, one thing I know for sure is that God was with me through every step of the way. In early February things between a good friend of mine and me broke down. This person hurt my feelings and I became very angry with what happened. I had to remind myself that I had to have courage to continue working on my business no matter what happened. I was very worried, and I even had physical symptoms that were alarming to me. Luckily, I had a lot of support from my friends. It says in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” My friends did just that; they kept reminding me to continue to work and that God wanted me to continue working.

It took a lot of self-control for me to calm down from this situation. My friends are so loving, and they reminded me that getting angry would only make things worse. Once I was calmer, I was able to see what went wrong and I was able to move on with joy.

Another reason there were so many tears this month was I had a lot of uncertainty. I was waiting on Vocational Rehabilitation to update my laptop. I had heard many horror stories about how some laptops had updated from Windows 7 to Windows 10 and they stopped working. I was praying that this would not be the case for me. I was getting worried because I know I was getting behind on some of my work due to my hard drive crashing and my laptop still running Windows 7. Does God not say that he will supply us of our needs? Indeed, he does. In Philippians 4:19,”…And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given in us in Christ Jesus.” Vocational Rehabilitation knew of my situation and acted quickly. Now I am happy to report that my laptop has been updated and is working much better.

Lastly, on the 25th of February my heart was full of grief, on that day, 15 years ago, my mother passed away.  My heart will always ache because I miss my mother. But on this day my heart also sang with joy. For those of you who don’t know, since my mother’s passing, I live with my loving and supportive grandpa. It says in James 1:27, “Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans and widows in their troubles and refuse to let the world corrupt us.” My grandpa has continued to do what the verse implies. He has helped supply me with my basic needs and more. To help say thank you for all the support he has given me all these years I treated him to lunch at a local restaurant. My grandpa had red beans and rice and I had catfish. We had dessert too. Ice cream always hits the spot after a great meal.

Speaking of joy, I was able to enjoy a shopping spree with my friend this past Friday.😊

How was February for you? What brought you joy? Tell me in the comments below.

 

Please note: Bible verses come from the TruthQuest New Living Translation Inductive Student Bible.

Remembering my mom and feeling thankful for my grandpa

“I love you mom,” I said as I stood as a panicked sixteen-year-old standing in the living room. “I love you too, Amanda,” my mom said. Those were the last words that my mom said to me before she died from a sudden massive heart attack. The days and weeks to follow seemed to come in waves all in a blur. I had to work through my grief. It was a tough road, but one thing I have learned from all of it is I can enjoy and be thankful that I am able to look back at the sixteen years I had with my mother and smile. Days of fishing, dancing and cooking in the kitchen. These are the memories that I cherish the most.

It has been 15 years since my mother died, and in that time frame I have grown. My mother has missed seeing me go off to college, graduations, and many happy and sad days in-between. There are days when I wake up and I wish I could just sit down and have a cup of coffee and talk to my mom.  I hope as I write this, she is looking down on me from heaven and she is smiling at the young woman I have become.

After my mother died my grandparents took over my care. They have fed, clothed, and provided treats for me. Even though my grandmother died in 2018, I am still thankful for all the help that she provided. Now it’s just my grandpa and I. He continues to provide for me while I work on my freelancing career. He has provided food, clothing, shelter and more. I am thankful that he helped me fight for the education I received at The University of West Florida. After college, my grandpa could have sent me on my way after continuously looking for employment. He hasn’t given up on me. I can’t thank him enough for helping me grow into the young woman I am today.

On the anniversary of my mother’s death I sit with my grief and I miss my mother. I also rejoice in the fact that she is with Jesus, and one day I will meet her again in Heaven. Sometimes I look back at all the things that my grandpa has provided for me and I can not express enough gratitude. Like in years past I will treat him to lunch. I am not sure yet where we will be dining, but I am sure it will be great.

Interview with Chelsea (Guest Post #22)

Hi Everyone, today’s guest post is from Chelsea. I met her on Facebook. Please be sure to check out and follow her on social media.

  1. What is your name (or blog/channel name)? My name is Chelsea.
  2. Age? I’m 32 years old; I’m originally from Texas but have relocated to a new state, nearly two years ago now, as I needed a fresh start and a new environment that would allow me to thrive.
  3. Who has inspired you for your blog or YouTube channel? : There isn’t just one person that’s inspired my writing–in fact, my own life experiences have inspired my writing. I’ve been writing for myself in a journal format since I was in elementary school because for me, doing so has always been an outlet. I was abused by numerous biological relatives for years, yet writing was the one thing I could always count on. Because when human beings would hurt me and otherwise let me down, writing has been there, as a faithful, constant friend. And the thing about writing, is that writing doesn’t abuse you; writing doesn’t invalidate your feelings; it welcomes you with open arms, 24/7, no matter what it is you are feeling, thinking or going through.

4. Besides writing or making YouTube videos what do you like to do in your spare time? Besides writing, some other things I love doing in my spare time are reading sci-fi/fantasy books, LGBTQ-themed books, books on atheism or self-help books. I also love listening to most kinds of music; though, right now, a few of my favorite artists/musicians to listen to are Zedd (who creates Electronic Dance Music or EDM for short) Kehlani who sings R&B and Billie Eilish who sings a mix of genres. While there are probably songs from every genre of music that I love, there are definitely particular music genres I’m not really a fan of as a whole; those are country, heavy metal, opera and classical. That being said, I also love being with my friends/other loved ones and learning how others express their creativity.

5. Name a bad habit that you have? A bad habit I have is biting my nails; I usually do this when I’m nervous, bored or really stressed out.

Chelsea
Photo of Chelsea. Photo provided by Chelsea. 

6. Name your best quality? My best quality of mine would be my brutal honesty; because people don’t ever have to worry about where they stand with me. They know that I give good advice/advice that I make sure to lead by example with. But mostly, I love my brutal honesty because it shows folks that I’m trustworthy and will always tell them the truth, even if the truth can be hard to hear.

7. If you could interview anyone living or dead who would that be and why? : If I could interview anyone dead or alive, I’d choose the Obama Family; I’d choose these folks because I love many of the things they stand for, and they seem very down-to-earth. It would be interesting to be able to pick their brains and to get to know them as the fellow human beings that they are.

8. What is your college major/minor? My current major in college is sociology. I chose this as my major because I’m passionate about helping people heal. I’m also a firm believer that if everyone in the world were in therapy, the world as a whole would be a much different place. In my younger days, one of the colleges I attended was Austin Community College.

9. Why did you choose the title of your blog or YouTube channel? : The tagline of my blog is: my life living with multiple disabilities/navigating through trauma. : I started blogging publicly a little over two years ago now. Someone who’d come across an article I’d written and liked it, was the one who’d suggested I start blogging publicly. This person got in contact with me and told me that they thought the things I have to say are valuable and given that this person was involved in a charity that was geared towards educating sighted people about how blind/visually impaired folks live/function independently, I knew that taking their advice would be wise. And as they say, the rest is history…or is that HERstory, since I’m a woman; hahahaha.

10. Where do you see yourself in five years? It’s near impossible for me to think about where I see myself in five years because my disabilities and chronic health conditions have changed my life in ways I never would’ve thought were possible. The main way in which these things have changed my life, is through causing me to slow down and listen to whatever my body is telling me at any given time. Like most people, I too allowed society to influence the way I viewed how my life should look to others. I forced myself to go to college as a young adult, simply because I didn’t think I had any other choices. But it’s only been within these last couple years that I’ve learned that taking care of myself is, and should be, my top priority. And so quite frankly, living with these chronic/life-threatening health conditions has helped me see that for me/my body, taking things an hour at a time or most times one day at a time, is the best way to operate. Because my body does not, and will not, meet what I think is an unrealistic and harmful standard, that society tries to force onto people, anyway. So if I’m here on this earth in five years, that in itself will be a gift.

12. What is the name/cause of your visual impairment (Or other disabilities that you may have)? : I was born with Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP); I was born at 26 weeks and weighed two pounds, three ounces. I had to be given too much oxygen at birth, just to be kept alive…and that’s what ultimately made me become blind. I had some usable eyesight up until I was 18…but then I became totally blind. Just to clarify though, when I say I used to have usable eyesight, I don’t mean that I could see good enough not to use a white cane. What I do  mean, is that I could see out of the corner of each eye, where my nose meets each eye. So I’d have to literally put things close to my eyes to somewhat see them. But honestly, it’s bittersweet for me to tell people that I used to have some eyesight because then they want a full explanation about what I could/couldn’t see…and that becomes so draining. So I’ve found it’s much easier for me to just say I’ve been totally blind for years…but had a bit of vision as a child. I find that that explanation is sufficient enough for the majority of folks. My Cerebral Palsy was also something I was born with, that was due to my bio mom’s drug/alcohol use while I was in her womb. I was also born with Hydrocephalus which was also due to my bio mom’s drug/alcohol use when I was in her womb.

13. How do your visual impairment (or other disabilities that you may have) effect you on a daily basis? My disabilities/chronic health conditions affect me on a daily basis by isolating me, for one thing. This past fall semester for example, I’d initially planned to go back to school, after having taken off in the summertime. But then it turned out that health issues came up in the fall that were shunt-related…and so I had to take off from school. And when I’m not able to go to school and feel like a productive member of society, that can be very isolating. But what truly helps me through dark times like this, is the fact that I use an iPhone and a Mac computer, both of which have speech output software built-in to them which speaks aloud what is visually on the computer’s or phone’s screen. And having access to these things makes my life much fuller and brighter than it would be without these things, that’s for sure. Because both my Mac as well as my iPhone, allow me to engage with the world through Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media. Both of these devices literally give me the world, when I sometimes don’t feel like the world has me.

14. What do other people feel about your visual impairment (or other disability that you may have)?  What others think about my disabilities/chronic illnesses varies from person-to-person. But to be honest, I don’t care what folks think, for the most part. I used to care deeply about how others saw me and I even felt at one time this deep need to be accepted by society. But to be honest, the more I live as my confident, unapologetic and authentic self, the more I’m truly accepted by others.

15. If you had to give one piece of advice to other about having a visual impairment (or other disability that you may have) what would that be?  If I could give advice to others living with disabilities/chronic health conditions, I would first encourage them to be unapologetic about who they are. And then the advice I’d give them, would be to tell them to love on themselves more…and don’t pay anyone any mind who tries to tell you not to do you. Because ultimately, each individual is responsible for his or herself…and only each individual knows what would make him, her or them, happy.

16. Where can other people find you on social media? (Please list and provide the links)?

My website can be found at:  http://chelseamunoz.com

The Facebook page for my blog can be found at:  https://www.facebook.com/CJMBlog/

The Twitter page for my blog can be found at: https://twitter.com/cjm042715

 

 

 

Top five songs that help me stay strong

When I get anxious or depressed, I put on songs that are encouraging and empowering. Here are five suggestions from my personal playlist. I hope you like them.

  1. One Republic-I Lived

I like this song because it reminds me to keep going and to enjoy life. Even though life is full of successes and pit falls its more important to keep going and to choose to keep going. That life is worth it.

  1. Imagine Dragons-Whatever it takes

I love to play this song while I work on my writing. It reminds me to keep writing even when I don’t feel like it. It reminds me that when you work hard and you don’t let negative words or actions get in your way you can keep chasing your dreams.

 

  1. Aly&AJ- I’m Walking on Sunshine

Okay, this song probably tells my age, but I don’t care. I love to turn this song up on full blast when I am in a sad mood. This song reminds me that life is good and that positive sunny days and events come again. This song also reminds me to count my blessings. Whenever there is a negative there is always a positive somewhere.

  1. Orinoco Flow by Enya

I was first introduced to this song by a friend of mine when my grandma was battling Alzheimer’s disease. This song helped me work through my grief of losing my grandma. One thing that I was worried about was not being able to show my grandma that I would be okay even after her passing. This song reminded me not to give up on achieving that goal. Now I know my grandma is able to look down at me and smile with pride at all I have and will continue to achieve. This is one of the songs that I have on my bedtime playlist. I love this song because it reminds me to close my eyes and just dream about the world around me.

  1. Love And The Outcome-You Got This

I recently found this song. I am currently going through some rough spots in my life, and I believe that God put this song in front of me for a reason. I love this song’s message. The message is simple. Remember to take some deep breaths, which I need to do more often, and have faith that God is going to take care of all things.

What are some of your favorite songs that you like to play when your stressed or upset? Tell me in the comments below.