This year’s winner, Kaila Hatton, has grown up in a family that is no stranger to LD. Her father and a long line of relatives share similar struggles with dyslexia, and her mother, determined to create a better life for her family, studied to become a certified reading instructor, unraveling the mysteries of grammar, writing and spelling for Kaila and honing her skills as an advocate for her family and others. While Kaila’s family was instrumental in helping her sharpen her self-advocacy skills over the years, today, she is in the driver’s seat as a self-assured young woman with a focused passion: caring for animals. Kaila has built an extensive resume in the veterinary field and in equine therapy for students with special needs. Kaila will graduate high school as a certified veterinary technician assistant, a stepping stone to her goal of becoming fully certified as a veterinary technician, which she will pursue next year through an associate’s degree in Veterinary Science from St. Petersburg College.
Kaila Hatton – Personal Statement
1. Tell us about your learning disability and how it has affected you in school, at home, and in the community.
Having dyslexia has affected me a lot in school, at home and in the community. During elementary school I didn’t really understand what dyslexia was and how I learned differently. I just knew that I didn’t learn things in a “normal” way like the other kids. I was always pulled out of class to a special class to help teach me what everyone else could learn in a “normal” way. In middle school I finally understood what dyslexia was, and knew I was just as smart as the other kids if not smarter but I just learned in a different way. But through middle school hid my dyslexia and my grades because my teachers didn’t know how to teach me the way I needed to be taught. In high school it got better. I learned to except what I am and what dyslexia is and that it is a part of me that I love. It made me who I am and I am not ashamed of it even though my grades are still not the best in high school.
When I was younger at home it was not easy having dyslexia because my mom was determined to help me. So throughout elementary and middle school my mom taught me the way I should have been taught in school but instead I was taught after school at home. Now that I am older it doesn’t have much affect at home other than when I am texting someone or writing something and I ask my parents how to spell it.
In my community I consider my LD as a way to help others with LD’s. I have spoken at Family Cafe five times and once at the SPARC conference. Right now I volunteer and am employed at Kiddy Up Ranch where we do equine therapy for kids with special needs and it is also where I have started a reading barn. I use the same program that my mom did with me as a kid to help other kids to learn to read.
2. Give us some examples of how you were able to overcome specific barriers to learning.
Somethings that helped me overcome specific barriers to learning were tricks that I started to develop over time. One is I memorize words and the spelling of words so I would know them. I pre-read in my head what I am supposed to read out loud to the class of other things so I know all the words or could figure out how to say all the words so I don’t make a fool of myself when I start to read aloud. When it comes to a spelling test of a vocabulary test I will make flash cards and go over and over and over them till I know them by heart of I would make up a story of phrase to remember it. These are just some thing I have come up with to help myself get through my learning barriers.
3. Tell us about the people in school, at home, or in the community who have helped you most.
In school there is not many names to mention that helped me get where I am today. There were those few teachers who asked what they can do to help me and sho would stay after class with me and let me have as much time as I needed to finish tests.
At home both parents helped me. My dad was an inspiration to me because he has dyslexia too and today he has a good job and got through school and if he could succeed without the help that I have today, I knew I could definitely do it. My mom did all the fighting for me to get me my 504 plan. she taught me the way I needed to be taught and took time from her life to do all that work and I admire and appreciate her for that.
In my community, I thank my friends and my work mates who accept me for me even if I can’t spell or read well.
4. Describe any accommodations of assistive technologies that have helped you succeed.
The accommodations that have helped me are untimed tests and unlimited brakes and digital literacy and being able to use additional assistive technologies. The assertive technologies the I use are Kurzweil, Dragon, and apps on the iPad. They have helped my succeed.
5. What type of post-high school program are you planning to attend and what will you study?
I plan on going to St. Petersburg College and I want to study veterinary science for two years to get my associates degree as a veterinary technician.
6. How would the Allegra Ford Thomas Scholarship help you accomplish your goals?
The Allegra Ford Thomas scholarship will enable me to attend college and help me reach my goal to become a veterinary technician. It will help me get the education I need to be successful in life in the career of my choice.