Michelle Steiner – Neurodiversity Celebration Week 2022

Name: Michelle Steiner – Learning Disability, Visual Perception and Hand Dexterity
What do you do? Teachers’ aide, disability writer, and advocate

How do you start your day? Do you have a morning routine?  What do you have for breakfast, do you think a good diet is important?

I typically start my day with breakfast. I usually have egg whites, yogurt, fruit, and a cup of coffee. I do think having a healthy diet is important. I try to eat a balanced diet and to make healthy food choices. I also drink lots of water and love tea. My morning routine is not complete without squeezing in a workout before I leave the house. After my workout I get ready to go to work or wherever else I need to go that day.

How do you stay active? And what do you do to relax?

In addition to my morning workout, I also go to my local YMCA to exercise. I love taking group exercise classes such as Boot camp, Zumba, Barre, and other classes. I also enjoy taking long walks and hikes with my husband.  To relax I will do Yoga or stretching. Reading also helps to relax me. You can also find me sitting on my front porch swing with a good book, when the weather is nice. I also love long hot baths.

Do you have a favourite word or phrase?

Why blend in when you were born to stand out

Have you read anything good recently? Is there a book that has changed your life?

I’m a book worm and I always have a few books that I am reading. Currently, I am reading This is How I lied by Heather Gudenkauf. I am also reading Widow Falls by Kristen Modeglin. One book that changed how I view my disability has been Normal Sucks by Jonathan Mooney. The book talks about how the term normal doesn’t exist and how it hurts rather than helps people with disabilities and others who don’t fit in that category.

What was the best advice of advice you ever received and who was it from?

Everything will work out; it just may not come in the package that you expect. My dad used to tell me this when I was younger and discouraged by all the things I struggled with. I can remember being so frustrated with having a disability thinking that nothing would ever turn out right. To my surprise many things have turned out in my favour, but it a much better way than I could have ever imagined.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you were a grown up? And what was your first job? I knew from when I was a young child that I wanted to be a writer, and work with children. I had dreams of becoming a therapist or a preschool teacher. My first job was working in a daycare centre over the summer.

What do you do now and how do you get into it?

I’m a Paraprofessional teacher’s aide for a school.  I began as a substitute Paraprofessional and enjoyed working with students until I found a job with more steady hours working with children. When that job downsized I went back to school. After graduation I worked for a few places, but struggled to find the right fit. I applied for the Paraprofessional job thinking I would only get hired on as a sub. To my surprise I was offered a permanent part time position.

In the past few years I have been getting more into the disability writing and advocacy. I have had disability articles published and started my own blog. I have also spoken at in person and virtual events on having a Learning Disability and growth mind set.

Creativity and thinking differently are often credited to neurodiversity. Would you say that it is true? And if yes, can you give an example?

Yes I think that neurodiversity does make me more creative. I often have people tell me that when I take a picture of a flower that I capture details that others miss. Not driving also gives me the chance to notice things that others miss, on my walks.  Not being good in math forces my brain to find new ways to function.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused or have lost your focus how do you get back on track? Do you have any hacks, tips, or do you use apps to keep you on track during the day?

When I get overwhelmed I try to focus on what I can do and break the task down if possible. The all or nothing approach often causes me to feel discouraged and give up. I attempt to focus on what I can control and to let go of what I can’t.

How does your Neurodiversity affect new relationships? This can be professionally socially or romantically.

Professionally it can be difficult to explain to employers that I have a disability and the accommodations that I need. Thankfully I have an accepting employer. Socially it can be difficult because it can be hard to remember the rules to games and I have difficulty with competitive sports. Romantically it was difficult at times to find a person who was accepting of my disability, but I am lucky to now have an understanding husband who loves me for who I am.

What makes you happy?

All things tea related. I love to relax with a cup of tea! I also collect tea pots, and tea cups. Butterflies and flowers also make me happy and I enjoy connecting with others, going on adventures with my husband or reading books and writing stories

What has been your biggest achievement so far?

One of the biggest achievements for me has been getting my Bachelor’s Degree. A Physiatrist told me I wouldn’t go beyond community college.  Getting published and creating my own blog has been a big achievement for me. I always wanted to be a writer.

Do you have a positive ND message to the world?

Know what you are good at and look for a way to do it.

Final question – where can people find out more about you? Do you have a website and social media?

My Blog