“Hello, my name is Sheen Sehgal. I am a single young lady at the age of 45. I currently live with my mother in the Trimont Building on Mt. Washington in Pittsburgh, PA. I am blessed to be a part of the Indian culture. My dad passed away in 1999. My mother is one of 9 brothers and sisters. My dad was the oldest of 5. I currently have extended family from my mom’s side in Pittsburgh, California and DC. I have extended family from my dad’s side in Wisconsin and New York. I am an only child, yet, as a child I never felt lonely because I adopted my cousins as my sisters and brothers. I do have to say, as an adult I feel a little lonely because my cousins are now married and have families of their own. Now, I can consider my friends my family.”
Explain your condition and how it affects your ability to learn and function.
“The condition I was born with is called,“Cognitive Processing Disorder.” This means that my brain thinks faster than I can speak. This disability impacts my conversation, especially when I am mid-sentence and someone interrupts me. I lose my place and have a hard time getting back on track. Now, I take a deep breath and when I am interrupted I use my hand as a guide, looking down at it as an anchor. This allows me to finish my thought process. Sometimes I ask my friends.
Typing and using a computer has helped me with my compositions. As far as handwriting, I recently discovered placing lined paper underneath my paper – it helps me write in a straight line. When I read, I use my hand to guide my eyes across the line. I am able to function relatively freely through accommodations with technology and a supportive microsystem of my mom and dad. I make mistakes, but through those mistakes, I succeed. I use exercises, massages and my cat, Munchkin, to help me unwind. In addition, I have a few good friends.”
What are some of the challenges you currently face with CPD and how do you overcome them?
“Writing is hard for me. My handwriting is illegible and this becomes a challenge in school when taking notes. I was so busy focusing on the process of the movement of my hand that I missed half the lecture. I overcome this with the use of my computer. Now, I ask if I can get a copy of the handouts in class so that I can focus on the material – not copying every sentence down. My brain’s speed is twice as fast as I can express myself via speech or in a test. To overcome this I currently take medicine. I take a deep breath to slow my thought process. I attend CHADD meetings once a month at Western Psych. I use the resources available to me such as OVR. I need extra time to complete a standardized test, so I request it.”
You refuse to let CPD hold you back! Are you currently working toward any goals or dreams?
“I am working towards my Masters in Education, specifically Early Education. I want to show children that challenges exist, but they can overcome them. I want to see those special children who are gifted be able to reach their full potential. I know it is hard and if I can guide them so that they can see how special they are, then my dream will have come true. I love little kids and I can’t stand to see them fail and fall. They need to understand that they can succeed in their own special way.”
What advice do you have for anyone who may be battling a learning disability or other difficult circumstances?
“My advice to anyone with a learning disability: Understand how you learn and talk with your professors in school. I am so glad that they now include the student in the IEP (Individualized Education Program) process. Only the student knows where he/she needs help. Technology is your friend – it can help you break down your task and effectively function so that you can create, analyze and succeed. Also, as an adult, accept your disability but don’t think of it as a disability. Think of it as an ability because you learn differently and through that you are creative. Please, email me if you need to. I want you to know you’re not alone and I will guide you in the right direction.”
When you encounter frustrating moments or simply feel like giving up, how do you keep yourself motivated?
“I used to withdraw into my room and stare blankly at the television, but now I turn to my friends and my cat. I know I can be myself with my friends and that allows me to strive to my full potential.”
Who is the biggest role model in your life and why?
“My parents were my biggest role models. My dad taught me the importance of serving our community. He is well known in the Aliquippa, Hopewell and Pittsburgh areas. My dad gave his hours to the hospital and the community. My mom has shown me courage and stubbornness – to fight and not give up. She is a champion for the city of Pittsburgh, her patients and, most importantly, me. If I can one day be half as good as she currently is, I will achieve more than enough. My parents taught me to be proud of who I am and not to allow others to cheat me. This is still hard for me to master.”
What is your personal philosophy on giving back?
“I believe that children are our future and through quality education and focusing on the needs of our children, we will create a future generation full of so much potential. I am a passionate sports fan, but I value the arts and culture of Pittsburgh and believe that it is necessary to educate our children about the joys of the arts from sculpting to music.”
Share with us some of the ways you’ve given back in your local community.
“I love giving back. I’ve volunteered at Children’s Hospital, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Beginning with Books, and was part of the Caring Habits Committee of the Pittsburgh Rotary. I also volunteered at Allegheny General Hospital, was a docent at Carnegie Museum and also helped out on the Carnegie Science Center exhibit floor.”
What local groups and organizations are you currently a part of?
“The local groups that I belong to include: The Pittsburgh Social Exchange; Rotary Pittsburgh; Winchester Thurston Mitchell Society; Learning Disability Association; Children and Adults with Attention Deficit; and the International Dyslexia Association.”
As a huge philanthropist, what has been the most rewarding or memorable thing you’ve experienced?
“As a philanthropist, the most memorable thing for me was touring the Children’s Institute and seeing our dollars in action. It motivated me to volunteer more. In a volunteer arena, the most rewarding thing was watching the student I was tutoring finally understand English and was able to read his book. He was from South Korea and I was a volunteer at Beginning with Books. Later that year, I received a letter from him thanking me.”
What is next for you and how can anyone follow and/or support your journey?
“To complete my Master’s Degree in Early Elementary Education and English Language Learner. Also, to continue to support my community through volunteering and philanthropy. Anyone is welcome to follow me through Facebook, Foursquare and/or email me at email@example.com.”
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