I was born into an orphanage in Bulgaria. I was adopted when I was two and a half years old by great parents, Brent and Barb Mason. I was very delayed in my growth because of not having physical touch and activity. I spent pretty much every day in a crib by myself.
My Mom helped me get healthy and learn basic skills because I was a very malnourished little girl. She had to teach me how to eat properly, drink out of a cup, and crawl and walk at the age of three. Physical activities like gymnastics, soccer and skiing were how I learned to move again and about team work and about being an athlete.
The way I learn is visual and hands-on. That’s why my Mom taught me by homeschooling me from kindergarten to grade 12. My Mom didn’t want me to be treated differently. For me to learn is really hard.
When I was born I had a brain bleed. That affected how I learn. I have a lot of ideas in my head, but I can’t connect my ideas to writing with a pencil. It makes me frustrated and angry. My Mom was able to teach me in a way so that I could learn more easily.
People expect you to learn the normal way. There are expectations for you to learn at a certain speed and in a certain way. I felt alone and like people didn’t understand me.
When I was a teenager, I was tutored to try to get me reading and writing, and to get my driver’s licence. I had four tutors in two years. It was slow going, frustrating and hard to get stuff done. A lot of the time I felt stuck. I had to teach people about the way that I learn and that was tough. It can be hard for people to understand that I learn differently than most people.
My Mom started me using logographs, which are used with people who are non-verbal. It helped me learn to read by connecting a written word to a picture - a bit like Chinese symbols. That’s the main way I learned how to read, by memorizing the shape of a word and knowing what it says.
My Mom wanted to get more help for me and she came to the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy (CBAL). We had a meeting and I met Joan and Melissa. CBAL introduced me to Ellen, my new tutor. We worked together for almost a year doing fun reading, writing and math. We worked on logographs together and I continued to learn to read. She was very encouraging and gave me time to learn my way.
I also joined the CBAL Community Literacy Planning Committee. Joan wanted to have a young person’s ideas in the group. It was a big step in becoming an adult and talking in a group about different kinds of programs and literacy. I didn’t say much for the first few years. Now, many years later, I am getting my ideas out. I have things to share in the group, like my experience with digital badges and my ideas as a young adult about how some people learn.
When I was 20, I started at Selkirk College. I studied in a class called Transitional Training. That’s where I met great teachers. They helped me learn the way that works best for me. I learned about math, writing, reading and life skills. I also met new friends and they were very supportive.
Now I am 27 and I am feeling great and encouraged about the progress of my reading and writing. Every week I work together with a tutor on my goals. I feel like I can read things that I couldn’t read before. I can actually read out loud and I have strategies now that I didn’t have before, like thinking about what makes sense and looking at letter cues. I also use the tools I have, like auto dictate, and I have people who want to help me.
It is fun to see the progress of what I can do. I know I can do it! I can set goals and work towards earning digital badges in reading and writing through Decoda Literacy Solutions. I am excited to see what progress I am making with each digital badge I achieve.
I want to write a book about my life. I want to get a better job. I am working hard at reading and writing skills. Now I know I can do it.