Curious Incident Podcast Episode 10: Getting A Student’s Perspective
Updated: Nov 28, 2022
About This Episode NYC Special Education Attorney Adam Dayan sits down with Edward Sabbagh, now a 20-year-old man who, as a child was a client of the Law Offices of Adam Dayan for 8 years until graduating from high school. Edward has dyslexia and just graduated from college. He benefited from the special education services the Law Offices of Adam Dayan secured on his behalf and has a unique perspective to share with our listeners about the difference that special education support made in his life.
(LISTEN) The Curious Incident Podcast Episode 10: Getting A Student’s Perspective
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Do you have questions about your child's education? Call Special Education Attorney Adam Dayan at the Law Offices of Adam Dayan: (646) 866-7157 and request a consultation with our New York attorneys today.
Speaker 1: This is Curious Incident, a podcast for special needs families and your window into the world of special education. Special needs parenting can be challenging, and we want to make it easier by providing you with the resources you need to help your child. Let's delve deep into the world of learning differently, with your host, special education attorney Adam Dayan. Adam Dayan: I am so excited to present our first-ever student client on this podcast. Today I am speaking with Edward Sabbagh. My law firm represented Edward for eight years, between 2011 and 2019. Edward, having benefited from the special education services that my law firm secured for him, has a unique perspective to share with our listeners about the differences those supports made in his life. Edward, I'm so glad you're here to share your story with our listeners. Edward: Thank you for having me, Adam. Adam Dayan: Pleasure to have you here. Edward: Awesome. I'm excited. Adam Dayan: So can you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself? What's your connection to special education? Edward: Well, first of all, my name is Edward. I'm turning 21 in a few days, and I just graduated from Brooklyn College. My connection to special education is that I've had dyslexia since a child, and yeah, just really there's a special place in my heart for really making it part of my story, and really I know that it's almost in my DNA since a kid, and really it's one of the greatest gifts I think that I've had. Adam Dayan: I definitely want to unpack that with you, and thank you so much for coming on and doing this for our listeners. And I have to tell you what a pleasure it is for me to be able to sit down with you. This is not something I get to do every day, and so I really appreciate you being here and I'm very excited for our conversation. So you said you just graduated from college, you had dyslexia from childhood. How old were you when you discovered or your parents discovered that you had dyslexia? Edward: I'm not sure about the exact age in my earliest, let's say memory, but it has to be from early just grade school. I remember second, third grade, that's when I really knew that something was a little different, that everyone else was excelling a little bit faster than me, and I knew something was different, that it took me a little bit longer to work on spelling or to finish reading my sentence. And it wasn't the most smooth and efficient. There were stumbles, and just it took time to really, really grasp certain things that my other peers were getting more efficient, I guess. Adam Dayan: So going back to your early years in grade school, what's your first memory of struggling? Edward: It was in second grade. I had this teacher, I'm obviously not going to say the name, but I remember that I actually just had trouble spelling my address. I didn't even know how to spell my home address where I live. And I remember just, I knew something was almost up. Obviously I've known where I live for as long as I can remember, but just not being able to translate my thoughts of what I've known for such a long time and translate it down into paper and to obviously spelling and almost replicating it out on something, it was quite difficult. Adam Dayan: And was there some kind of confrontation with your teacher? What happened? Edward: She spoke to my parents, I remember specifically my mother, and she wanted her, she gave her almost like a heads up. She wanted her to be aware of it. And obviously since then I was having specialists. I was always pulled just aside from the classroom. If I was taking let's say an exam or something, my teacher would help me by rereading questions, and just, I think that for the most part, a lot of them just knew a basic gist that I needed some support. It was just a matter of exactly what. Adam Dayan: Right. And I want to understand the services piece better. But first, going back to the teacher, I mean, it sounds like you were called out for having misspelled your home address. How did that make you feel? Do you remember? Edward: Definitely my self-esteem was a little bit hurt. I really, now the older I've been getting, I've really been focusing on self-esteem and having different mindsets and different approaches in all different types of situations, whether it's socially with friends or if it's with my family or if it's in work, in school, whatever it is. But I knew definitely back then that my self-esteem definitely was hurt, especially because everyone around me, my siblings that are both older than me, my sisters, my younger brother, they excelled in school, and obviously of course they've worked, they have such good work ethic and they're really hard workers. But it really took me longer to really grasp similar stuff that they would just excel in. Adam Dayan: Okay. So the services that you mentioned, where you were working individually with your teachers, was that outside of the classroom? Edward: It was outside. It would be just, it was very casual. It would be, let's say five minutes after class or maybe let's say during recess, or if I had a class that would let's say overlap my lunch. It wasn't a set specific time, but would be whenever there was an appropriate opportunity. Adam Dayan: And is this the second grade that we're talking about, as far as you can recall? Edward: Second, third, early, all the way. Probably from second, third, fourth, like sporadic. Adam Dayan: Okay. So you're meeting with them casually throughout the day and they're giving you some tips or pointers? Edward: Yes, exactly. Adam Dayan: What are some examples? So you're struggling and they're pulling you aside to give you some tools, to give you some strategies. Do you remember what any of them were? Edward: I remember one vivid memory is I didn't know the difference between son, S-O-N, father, son, and then sun, like in the sky, S-U-N. I didn't know the difference. Or the theirs, for example. And I would have just a lot of different support that would be spelling, it would be ... Vocabulary was really very tough for me. Adam Dayan: And how did they help you? Edward: It was just really breaking everything down, almost like a math equation. It was very slow. I wasn't being pressured. I never felt rushed, and they actually really did help me. It was just, I don't think it was almost the right help because there wasn't any structure. It was very just inconsistent. Adam Dayan: One thing you told me when we spoke on previous occasions is that you kind of felt lost inside your own body in the beginning, when you were maybe unsure of the exact nature of your struggles. Can you talk a little bit more about that? Edward: Since just a kid, I almost felt at the time there were highs and lows, just like anything else. And during those lows, I felt like almost I was questioning who I was. And really since just a child, since I believe one of the real, real benefits that I've had from my dyslexia was being able to give anything I've encountered an identity, and I've really, it would be anything from friendships, it would be anything from my values. I would always try to identify what's in front of me. And going back to your point, I wasn't able to identify what the dyslexia was since I really didn't know back then. And it was just so hard because if I couldn't give an identity, that was probably one of the first points in my life where I wasn't able to evaluate anything and put my own perspective on it. And I felt like that was almost holding me back because there was just so much I knew that I was able to reach because of just everyone else moving past every single grade. And they're learning everything. They're doing their summer homework with the breeze, and I was just really almost staying in the same position while everyone else was continuing to run that race. Adam Dayan: Yeah, I have to tell you, on a personal level, what you're saying resonates with me a lot because I struggled with OCD when I was a kid, obsessive-compulsive disorder. And similar to what you described, just not being entirely aware of what's happening in your body, not understanding what the issue is, what the source of the difficulty is. And this is so common with anybody who is struggling with an issue, that they don't always know what it is from the beginning. And I think it's a very common challenge that people in this world face, that they're struggling with something, they don't know exactly what it is. It can take some time to put your finger on it and figure out exactly what's going on. Speaker 1: You're listening to Curious Incident, a podcast for special needs parents, with your host, special education lawyer, Adam Dayan. If you like what you are hearing, please like and subscribe. Adam Dayan: So I think you talked about some of the academic difficulties that you were having. What about socially? Do you recall having any social difficulties in those early years? Edward: I've had some. I do credit as a child, just I was really athletic. I was always playing sports, I was always playing an instrument. My parents always made sure that I was always keeping busy on my free time when I was outside of school and not doing any homework. So I really think that played a huge role in just getting me to meet all different types of people. People that were playing guitar, people who were playing little league baseball, whatever the case was, I was always meeting new people. Just I've never had stable just friends because I was always in different classrooms. I was always, I never had anything that was consistent, since I was always just moving around and I wasn't always just comfortable in one position. Adam Dayan: So one thing that's very common for the students that I come to know through this legal process is getting evaluated by a psychologist. Do you recall being evaluated by a psychologist or any testing and evaluation that took place? Edward: So I do recall getting evaluated. I got evaluated a few times, numerous times. I obviously do remember the most recent time just because that had to be, it was just a few years ago. But the first ever time, I really don't remember that much. Adam Dayan: What was that experience like for you, going through the hours of testing and being one on one with the psychologist and having to go through the process of figuring out the source of your difficulties? Edward: It was definitely exhausting. I remember I was leaving school early some days. I was really just using a lot of my free spare time. Instead of playing a sport, instead of playing any instruments, my parents were focusing on that and I really just, that was probably the first time my life where I was losing out on just, I thought I was losing out on missed opportunities, if I was missing a nice baseball game or if I couldn't play basketball with my cousins, stuff like that. Adam Dayan: So a lot of parents are hesitant to put their kids through this process because they fear that it's going to be exhausting for their children, or overwhelming. And so they decide not to pursue the testing because they don't want to put their kids through that. So you, having gone through that yourself multiple times, what would you say to those parents? Edward: To those parents, I would really just try to push past all of that uncertainty and just discomfort. I really, going back, if I could, if I [inaudible 00:12:13] a parent, I would really just try to push my child to his fullest potential because going back to that point of my time, I really had so much more. My work ethic and just all my creativity really got unlocked during that process. And the time while I was getting evaluated really taught me, because I was commuting for long periods of times, sitting in waiting rooms, and really, I was able to actually find a little bit part of me that I probably wouldn't have found if I was just staying in school or if I was playing guitar. Adam Dayan: So if I'm understanding you correctly, the testing process was the gateway to the school you ended up going to, and that school you went to was the gateway to unlocking your own creativity and figuring out what you're passionate about and what you want to pursue in life. Am I understanding that correctly? Edward: Yes, that's correct. Adam Dayan: Nice. And I will ask you in a little bit about that school that you moved to, but before we get to that transition to your next school, was there something in between the level of service you mentioned before, where you were meeting casually with a teacher throughout the day, and your eventual transition to a full-time special ed classroom? Anything in between in terms of afterschool supports or tutoring services or special instruction, or anything along those lines that you were getting before you switched schools? Edward: My parents, I believe it was the summer I was switching school, actually started independently meeting with a specialist. I believe it was two or three times a week. And she really changed my life. Adam Dayan: How so? Edward: She just almost taught me that dyslexia was a superpower that not too many people have in the world. And she made me really feel like I was the only person that had dyslexia. And she told me that what I have is going to help me conquer the world. With all my resources, with everything that was holding me back, she said eventually it's going to get fixed, and that what I have is just something that really not too many people have. Adam Dayan: That's wonderful, Edward. And every time I hear a story like that, where a teacher has made such a difference in someone's life and to help them understand that they have a superpower, it's very heartwarming and moving. So thank you for sharing that story. And were those services helpful, when you were meeting with this specialist a few times a week, going over academics? Were those services helpful to you? Edward: They were definitely helpful. I was really, that whole summer, my mother, she's the best. She was picking me up from camp on certain days to go back and to meet with her. She really went above and beyond, and I give her all the credit in the world because without her, I wouldn't have been able to accomplish half of the things that were set out. And she really just helped me and gave me that support and never just judged. She was always just coming up with all different ways of how to make things slower and more efficient, and how to just really take things easy because I was always rushing in the beginning, always I was looking at the clock. I didn't have the right mindset, but she really gave me that right mindset, where she told me that in order to unlock all those superhero traits, I have to follow her rules. She somehow talked me into it. And of course, at first it was very difficult. It wasn't easy. But I used to really enjoy going to her, and she would give me homework that I was gladly doing. Whether I was on vacation with my family, I was doing it on the airplane. I have memories of doing her homework. I was doing her homework everywhere. Adam Dayan: That's amazing. You've got to track her down, send her a link to this episode, and let her hear all the wonderful things you're saying and let her feel the emotion that's coming out of you right now because she changed your life, right or wrong? Edward: She really did. Since really building that relationship with her, I've always just found that I could become friends and have a connection with anyone, just a matter of finding what we have in common or what we don't have in common, and building off of that. Me, I've met so many people from cold calling, cold emailing, that have had dyslexia, that have started businesses that I've had interest in. And she almost taught me that, that that's how you actually form relationships socially, and really just, I give her so much credit because I've met so many people that are changing lives across our country and across really the world. Adam Dayan: Amazing. Amazing stuff. And we're going to have to talk more about that after because I'm on a mission to meet more people who struggle with OCD, talk to them about their journeys. Edward: You could definitely, I'm sure there's podcasts, there's Ted Talks, I'm sure OCD is definitely also something that's just like dyslexia, that it's quite common. Adam Dayan: Yes. And it's important to talk about it because not everybody talks about it. And then the result is that there's kids out there who are suffering silently, feeling ashamed of themselves because they don't know what's wrong with them and don't realize that other people have been through that before. So I agree with everything you're saying. Speaker 1: If you like what you are hearing, please let us know by subscribing to our podcast and letting others know about it, too. If you have thoughts, questions, comments, or would like to suggest ideas for a future episode, we'd love to hear it, so email your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. Adam Dayan: So help me connect the dots. You're working with this wonderful teacher. She's helping you, she's telling you how to unlock your strengths, but something changes because you end up transitioning to a more supportive full-time special education environment. And tell us what happened from point A to point B. Edward: Well, right after that summer I transitioned schools, and it was pretty challenging. Not going to lie, there were highs, there were lows. But my parents- Adam Dayan: What grade is this? Edward: This is going into fifth. Adam Dayan: Going into fifth grade. Edward: And my parents were just, I've always had the support of my parents. My mother, I remember the first month probably picked me up every single day from school. Credit to her for really doing that. Adam Dayan: You have a wonderful mom. Edward: I know. She's really, there's no one like her in the world, and I'm thankful. I thank God every single day that I've really, I have her, my father is just as good. And really it's one of the, probably aside from dyslexia, it's probably the greatest gift that God's given me. I really- Adam Dayan: Your dad's pretty great too. I can vouch for that, as well. Edward: I don't take it for granted. But going back, I had the support of my parents. I had the support of my siblings. The one thing that really my family's done for as long as I could remember is really having family dinners. Whether my father was coming home from work at nine o'clock, eight o'clock, I was staying up, my brother was staying up, my sisters were staying up until we sat down at the dinner table and just, we would hear about everyone's day. And that was one thing that we really took very seriously once I switched schools, I remember. And I think that really just helped because I knew that my parents really just cared on a different level. And the support of the school was amazing from the start. I've met so many amazing people that really have just influenced who I was, going from that fifth grade all the way up until high school, and just everyone was really caring and everyone had just so much patience, and really everyone was just giving and really it was such a good environment just from the start. And it was awesome because I actually met people that were really, I was in a similar situation. It was almost like we were connecting aside from sports or aside from playing the guitar. It was really, we were actually, we had some sort of just similarity where we were just on the same level intellectually. Adam Dayan: Wow. Okay. What's the name of the school that you transitioned to? Edward: The school was Bay Ridge Preparatory. Adam Dayan: Okay. And you want to say a few words about what the school was like? Edward: I was there from fifth grade until I graduated high school, and it was really just a very bright, very warm school. I've had all the support in the world, whether it was staying after school, whether it was really just having these small classrooms with a ton of support. The ratio of teacher to student on average is probably, let's say one to six or seven, if I had to guess. Obviously more in some classes, obviously less in others. Adam Dayan: One teacher for every six students. Edward: Yes. That was, it's pretty on average from fifth grade all the way until I graduated eighth grade, that would probably be I think the appropriate ratio. And I just had different subjects, different teachers, and I was able to really just meet tons of people who weren't just my age, that were older than me, that were younger than me. I was always learning from people who weren't just next to me in the classroom. It was if I was playing on the basketball team or if I was, let's say, getting to school early, I was always just keeping busy, meeting people, and just connecting, like I still am. Adam Dayan: So you're at Bay Ridge Preparatory School. Right away you notice that the kids have similar issues to yours. You mentioned the smaller classroom sizes, one teacher for every six students. Anything else that you're noticing right off the bat about Bay Ridge Prep that's different than the settings you were accustomed to? Edward: Definitely I knew from the get-go that most of the teachers were just psychologists and they really had a deeper understanding of what I really had. And going back to specialists that I was seeing on the side, they were just all so similar. And it was for the first time in my life where I was actually having that consistency, where I wasn't leaving the classroom or I wasn't, let's say just staying during lunchtime. I was actually just having a nice sort of structure for the first time, and that's what really I appreciated right from the start. Adam Dayan: In your previous environment, you must have felt a pressure. Edward: It was unbelievable because I would just, while taking exams or while let's say writing a journal entry, it was always, there wasn't a set time to, let's say finish your test. There was always that extra time, whether it was before school, after school, to finish something that was undone. And going back to the school that I was at previously, I was always looking around and trying not to be the last one to hand in the test because I always had that sort of embarrassment, that people were just, let's say keeping track of, oh, Ed gave in his test last for the fifth time this month. And I was always just, I wasn't having that sort of comparison. I was really just finding who I was by myself and really just really developing my identity. Adam Dayan: Sounds like it did wonders for your self-esteem, is that right? Edward: That's correct. Adam Dayan: Was it hard to leave your friends to transition to a new school environment? Looking back, how do you view that change? Edward: It definitely was hard, wasn't easy, but I found opportunities, whether it was in the summer, whether it was winter break, I had opportunities, and my parents really made sure that I was doing stuff outside of school. I was still playing ball with them. I was just really having a lot ... They were afraid of me really losing that connection. So they really were trying to teach me to always stay true to my roots. And that really actually just applies to anything that I'm grasping today, whether it's knowing who my heritage is, whether it's knowing my DNA. There's so much that's really applicable for that. Adam Dayan: So what do you say to those kids out there who are struggling in let's say mainstream environments now, and they're down on themselves, they're feeling badly and they're telling themselves that they're dumb and they just can't hack it, and they're scared of transitioning because if they go to a new school they're going to lose all their friends on top of that. What do you say to those people? Edward: Well, the first thing is that intrusive thoughts are obviously thoughts that are coming through the mind and it's definitely very powerful. But at the end of the day, what I really learned from this whole process, and obviously the older I get, the more I'm learning about this type of stuff, is that the information that we're telling our own minds is eventually what we're going to reflect out. And it says a lot about who we are. So at the time, it was difficult, I'm not going to lie. I've had so many doubts. I've been doubted since I was a little kid. But at the end of the day, it's having that right mindset, knowing that doubting is the fuel to motivation. Speaker 1: If you like what you are hearing, please let us know by subscribing to the Curious Incident Podcast and letting other special needs parents know about it, too. If you have thoughts, questions, comments, or would like to suggest ideas for a future episode, we'd love to hear it. So email your feedback to email@example.com. Adam Dayan: If you could point to one thing that had the greatest positive impact on your education, what would you say it was? Edward: Probably just taking things really slow. I still take time to digest certain things. And really just trying to really be consistent, I think, at the end of the day. I'm still trying to be consistent in my own ways. I'm waking up the same time now every single day, before six o'clock. I'm really trying to have that right structure because I learned that consistency and time management, really, from having dyslexia. And I think that those two points, along with just all the creativity and all the interpersonal skills, the emotion intelligence that I've learned, really all revolves around that. I think that it's almost like the nucleus that would hold all that together because there was so much that I'd be able to unlock. But I would need to just be consistent in order to be applying all those different types of stuff to whatever I'm encountering, whether it's in school or after school or just going back to my friends and family. Adam Dayan: That's great. So when did you finish high school, and did you succeed academically during that time? Edward: I graduated high school about three years ago in 2019, and I believe I did succeed pretty well academically. I've had obviously ups and downs. The ACTs that I took were definitely not easy. It wasn't the best experience, I'll be completely honest. I was tutoring, I was up for long nights, early mornings. It was very challenging, but I had so much opportunity because as I was progressing and getting older, the dyslexia was getting much easier, and eventually I stopped seeing the specialist, which was obviously something that really freed up a lot of opportunity. And then I was just able to really actually find hobbies now of who I was outside of just school. I was getting out of school before three o'clock, Monday through Friday. I was really independent. I was going into Manhattan some days. I was taking public speaking courses, I was taking entrepreneurship courses. I would visit my older uncles by their businesses and by their jobs that they were doing at the time. I really actually just met so many people, and it gave me that opportunity for those few years in high school of actually who I was outside that classroom. And it really molded my structure into really trying to find that purpose aside from dyslexia and trying to find what I'm going to be doing for the rest of my life, and how am I going to be able to get through college and really build on my legacy and really build on how I want to be remembered. That's what my focus was probably from 11th grade all the way until just today. Adam Dayan: Sounds like you were really able to figure out who you are as a result of that program. Am I right? Edward: It was. I knew that God gave me this superpower for a reason, and I was just trying to find that for the longest time. And really, I was able to unlock lots and lots of different small steps that's helping me get closer to that goal. Adam Dayan: That's powerful. I mean, I can tell you personally, it's really powerful. You inspired me for this episode. I'm serious. What you say about being bigger than yourself and being on a mission to use what you've experienced, use what you've been given, use what you've been dealt to help on a broader scale, I mean, I think that's really powerful. So I know that this is going to be really meaningful to the people out there listening, and I just want you to know on a personal level for me as well, your being here has been very meaningful. Edward: Thank you. Adam Dayan: What did it feel like to graduate from high school? Edward: Definitely a relief, but it was really probably one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. It really, it was something that I wasn't even picturing if you told me that in early grade school, but it really just meant so much because I was really able to prove people wrong. My second grade teacher told me also that I wouldn't be able to read for probably the rest of my life, she told me. And just going back to everything leading up to that point, it meant so much to me because I was able to really almost go off independently, and really for the first time not have any of the help of my parents. Of course, I still go to them for tons, but really just for the first time, really having that independence where I was going to college and I couldn't rely on my mother to help me with my scheduling for school, or to let's say look at my tests. There weren't report cards that parents had to look at. And really just, it meant so much because I was becoming an adult almost. And that was probably the experience that really just, it was probably the experience that really just led me into the real world. Adam Dayan: Yeah, remarkable. You worked really hard, you persevered, you succeeded, and it didn't end there because I understand that you graduated college in three years. That's an impressive achievement. How did you accomplish that? What tools that you had learned did you put to use? What challenges did you face? What did you study? What was that like? Edward: Well, college, first of all, I started my first semester. I was fully in person. Everything was going well. I actually was taking four classes, not five, which was not as overwhelming, because I was a little, I was worried, I'll admit. I was still a little bit worried. College, it's a big deal, and I wanted to just ease into it. I didn't want to rush it. And actually, I really excelled well. Everything was in person. It was great. I was meeting people from all over New York, all over the country. It was awesome. And then about the semester after that, about probably halfway, we had the pandemic and just really everything switched from in person to online, and that was the last of my in person learning. I felt a little robbed, but I really was able to go back to my dyslexia and really go back to actually those traits like emotion intelligence, time management, all those type of stuff, and really just use it to my advantage. I was creating chats for everyone in separate classes, to let's say get study groups going, or to really, really just let's say work on group projects together. I was really trying to make a difference in using my resources to the fullest potential in that period, and it obviously just led to me taking more classes during whenever I had the opportunity, whether it was in the winter, whether it was the summer. I was really just trying to take advantage. And it was just also time management because I was able to take classes that I would be able to work whenever I had the opportunity, whether it was late at night or early in the morning. I always made sure I was getting work done before I would have any pleasure time. Adam Dayan: Wow. I was going to say you must have accelerated at some point because you said you started off slowly, and then you must have added courses during the semester or inter sessions or summer sessions, to be able to graduate in three years. So I guess you just addressed that point, but you've spoken about time management, but talk a little bit more about that. I mean, you took on a big load, and college is different from high school. How did you stay so organized and so disciplined and so diligent? I understand you were working during college as well, so can you say a little bit more about how you managed that? Edward: Well, while I was working also in college, I had awesome mentors. I had great colleagues that were just so understanding. I was working four days a week, Monday through Thursday, and Fridays were my designated school day, which was really, really just awesome because I was able to really move a lot of just the bigger papers and stuff that didn't have deadlines, that weren't exams or anything like that, that weren't having an exact date on them, which was great. And it was just about staying organized, really printing all of the college syllabuses out from all my professors, having my computer to really have different tabs of each different class. I would have five or six really just different tabs of my philosophy class or my psychology class or my business management class or whatever the class was. I was just trying to stay organized and really trying to find any free time I had. It was obviously exhausting, it wasn't easy, but I just knew, once I graduated high school I had that feeling where I really, I set it out and I really thought I accomplished so much. And I said, I have to replicate that feeling and I want it as quickly as possible, and that's how I was really able to finish in three years. Adam Dayan: Some people worry that being classified as special education creates a stigma. I like to think that we've come a long way as a society in this respect. Was that ever a concern to you? Do you think it's created any kind of stigma? Edward: At the beginning it was definitely, I thought, a big impediment that was holding me back for sure. It was something that really I couldn't grasp at all. But I think over time, the older I got and having the right mindset, the right tools, really helped me understand that anyone that I would meet that has dyslexia really just built a bond that I've never had with anyone and really actually finding out that someone has dyslexia, I would connect with them and it'd be a feeling that I couldn't replicate with anyone else. And it was just so cool because I was able to really just make a difference and understand that people really have, it's almost like different stages, and I would really see people that were beyond my stages that I was in and then I'd see people that are behind me, and I really tried to help from the people that are behind. I tried to give e them tips, I tried to help them. I'd give them confidence and increase their self-esteem. But on the other hand, people that were beyond my journey, that were much older than me, that had and encountered dyslexia, I would just try to pick their brain and just ask them what would be next and just learn as much as possible from them. Because really, they just had so many years, and I was just trying to really take advantage of both sides. Adam Dayan: There's some kind of magic that happens when you get people who are struggling with the same thing together in one room. I was just having this conversation with somebody today about doing a video montage of people who have struggled with OCD, and just that commonality, being in the same place, talking to people who know where you're coming from, there's power in that. Edward: There's definitely, there's a bond I think that's just almost unbreakable, that people that've had dyslexia really, you almost see eye to eye in a different way that no one else could understand. And that's really something that I've appreciated, and I really think that other people, like you just said with OCD, could also really just look at, because I've met so many people that are probably double or triple my age that really want to give back and really try to find people like me that are eager to learn from them. And I think that it's a special place and it's definitely something that is awesome. Adam Dayan: Were there any other unexpected positives, besides what you mentioned earlier, that came out of the challenges you faced? Edward: Probably my interpersonal skills. I think that would probably be one of the biggest advantages I have. I'm able to connect, I think, with really almost anyone really across the world and anywhere. Adam Dayan: Because of the fact that you struggled with dyslexia? Edward: Just of the things that have came out with it. I think that it's definitely given me more empathy and it's really just given me almost a sense of not judging anyone and really trying to appreciate what's around me. And it's definitely just made me more worldly. Adam Dayan: Do you still struggle in any of these areas today? Edward: I do. Probably the biggest thing that I'm struggling with on a daily basis has to be my memory, I have to say. I am having trouble remembering certain things that were, let's say, said in work a few weeks ago, constantly taking notes, and I'm still always trying to improve. I've actually watched this YouTube video on how to improve memory. It was about a few years ago. My father shared it with me, watched it actually in the car together commuting, and it was about basically how improving the memory, at the end of every single day before one goes to bed, just trying to recap every small detail from that day. And it would be which foot you got out of your bed, how you brushed your teeth, let's say, or what you did after, you put deodorant on, you tied your right shoe first, you put on your socks and then what shirt you were wearing, who you spoke to at let's say 9:30 on the train. All these small details and just recapping that, and I've been trying to really focus on that for a long part, about a year, and just trying to use this almost to my advantage, knowing that I can't be hard on myself, that if my memory's not good, I have to try to take advantage of writing detailed notes and just trying to take things slow. Adam Dayan: Before we conclude, I have to ask, what is your passion? What drives you? Edward: A few things. There's definitely not just one. Obviously it's my family, my parents, my siblings, my nieces, my nephew, all my friends. Everyone in my family definitely is the fuel, but at the end of the day, I really think it's going back to just that legacy and really trying to figure out why we're here and trying to really build something that's bigger than who I am. I really think that really this dyslexia that I've had has helped me really have this mindset and this perspective from such a young age, of being able to identify small details to large details. And I really think that most of the decisions, not all, really stem from is this going to be helping and strengthening my legacy? Because if it's not, I'm going to re-question it. And at the end of the day, I really think that that's the fuel, because we're all trying to really make something that could outlive us and that our children, our grandchildren, really could be confident in saying, "Wow, that's my grandfather. I want to be like him." Because I have so many of those mentors, whether it's my grandparents, whether my uncles, whether it's anyone who I have, I'm in awe every day. I'm learning so much about my family, about my friends every day, and I really, I want to be that type of person for people with dyslexia and people who are just encountering similar situations like myself. Adam Dayan: You said when we spoke previously that you wanted people to be able to contact you. How would you like them to do so? Edward: Anyone could feel free to reach out. My email is my first name, my last name, and the number one at gmail.com. There should be no hesitation. I've never hesitated my life, and I wouldn't want anyone to hesitate to reach out. I would love for as many people to reach out. The more, the better, at the end of the day. I really, there's nothing more I value than really just trying to help people. Adam Dayan: Edward, it's been a special privilege to be able to sit down with you in this type of setting. We don't always get to meet the students we fight for, and it's been really nice to get to know you and to hear about this exciting stage of your life following your graduation from high school and college, as you embark on your life's journey and follow your passion. You have a remarkable story, and I'm so proud of your success and the continued success I know you're going to achieve in the future, and I wish you much continued success and look forward to keeping in touch. Edward: Thank you, Adam. Appreciate also, as well, just everything that you are doing and the difference you are making, really, and just trying to make our world a better place. Thank you so much. Adam Dayan: Awesome. Speaker 1: Thanks for listening to Curious Incident, a podcast for special needs families. Don't forget to subscribe for a new episode every month. For more resources and helpful information, check out our website and blog at dayanlawfirm.com. 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