Every year we go through four different seasons. Each season brings different types of weather and experiences. Much like the seasons, I experienced different things during certain times. My disability did not go away for a time, what changed was my perspective on having a disability.
My first season of disability began in the winter. I can remember being in an avalanche of difficulties beginning in kindergarten. I struggled with dot to dot pages, math, tying my shoes, and social skills. The trees were barren despite all my efforts and the wind howled. I remember the bitter sting of the diagnosis. My parents explained that I had a Learning Disability and I learned differently. Ice crystals of frustration and jealousy almost froze my heart. I can remember wanting to learn and be like my peers. I wanted to do well in school, be accepted by peers, and please both my teachers and peers. I stood shivering as I was excluded from my peers and struggled to learn. The seemingly never-ending winter continued as I had to repeat Kindergarten in a new school. In the new school I spent part of my morning in a first-grade class and the rest of time in Learning support. I spent my afternoons in kindergarten. I was so frozen that I almost missed the beauty of the icicles, and the uniqueness of every snow flake. I had to learn how to make the best of the season I was given. I made snowmen and snow angels. School cancellations and speeding down the hill were also exciting. Most importantly my teachers and parents created a path in the blanket of snow for me to be successful. Slowly the specialty instruction, and accommodations began to work. The sun began to melt the ice and snow making way for a new season.
The second season I experienced having a disability was spring. During spring the once barren trees got tiny green buds. All around me flowers were beginning to bloom. The accommodations and specialty instruction were beginning to work. I found that I had strength in reading and writing. I was in regular ed science and social studies classes. I still had specialty instruction for math, and reading. By the time I was in high school I was in all regular classes except for math. School work got easier for me as I progressed. Much of Elementary school was rote memory but in the later grades it was more application. I made honor roll and grades improved. Socially things got harder and I encountered rain showers often felt like I didn’t fit in with the Learning Support students who struggled more with reading and behavior issues. The students in regular education classes did not view me as smart and often excluded me. Thankfully my family and teachers held out an umbrella. I also began to hang out with students in a neighboring school district in a different town. I had to learn how to dance in the rain when I struggled academically and socially.
The third season that I have gone through with a disability has been summer. The sun was hot and bright. I was happy to have a break from school, but my disability did not take a break. I struggled with eye hand coordination when playing games with peers. My pale skin was sun burned with shame when my peers made fun of me because of my lack of coordination. My eyes also flinch when they come in contact with a ball or other objects even if they weren’t a threat. I can remember peers thinking it was funny to wiggle their hands in front of my eyes and watch as I flinched.
Hope was alive in the warm summer evening when I wished on bright stars in the sky and caught fireflies. I wondered if my dreams of college, being successful and getting married where possible with a disability. Despite my doubt I made many wishes. My dreams often felt like the fireflies, bright and glowing in my hand and then becoming dim. I also had other people who dimmed my hopes and created anxiety over the future. I had a teacher who didn’t think that I could do college because of my math difficulties. I was encouraged to do technical school even though none of the programs offered interested me. I can remember a physiatrist who told me I wouldn’t go beyond community college and a professor who told me my job choices would be limited because of my disability. Despite my doubt and discouragement, a small flicker of light still burned.
The fourth season of having a disability was Autumn. Autumn is known to be a season of transition. The leaves turn from green to gold, red, and orange and fall from the trees. The cool wind scatters the leaves through the breeze. I often felt like the wind floating when I had to move back in with my parents for financial reasons, and then losing my job to downsizing. During this time, I decided to go to university.
During fall it is also called the harvest season, with pumpkins, squash, apples and sunflowers. Not having to work and using accommodations helped me to have a successful harvest of my own. My grades improved and I made Dean’s list for one semester. Having extended test time, a note taker and advocating for myself made a difference. I was able to graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Community Programming for Americans with Disabilities.
Each season brought changes to my situations, and how I viewed my disability. One of the few constancies is my Learning Disability. Experiencing each seasons has its own joys and struggles. I will always have a disability, but what changed was my perspective. I once thought of my disability as a hinderance, but it has turned into a help for me and for others. I work as a paraeducator with students with disabilities. I get the opportunity to help them go through the various seasons of having a disability. I know throughout my life I will go through seasons of a disability. I now know that each season will pass. Some seasons may seem to drag on forever, but the adult in me sees the end. I know I can weather each season that my disability brings to me.