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Learning Disabilities

Succeeding ‘Outside the Box’ in My Life With a Learning Disability

Michelle SteinerJune 25, 2019 Previously published on The Mighty.

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” –Albert Einstein

I was diagnosed with my learning disability in kindergarten. My preschool teacher thought something was atypical with my learning. The recommendation was another year in preschool. My parents decided to send me to kindergarten anyway. Support services were not in typically available in preschools, like they are today.

I spent most of my childhood longing to be like everyone else. I struggled socially and academically throughout my school years. I wanted to be smart and do well in school to please my parents and teachers. I struggled to fit in the narrow box of intelligence the school provided. I struggled with math, tests, handwriting and reading comprehension.

I wanted to fit in with my peers. I tried to fit into the narrow boxes of the different social groups. I tried looking like everyone else and having the same interests. However, most of the other students rejected me because of my disability.

I have also been confined to a box with my career choices. I was not encouraged to pursue college because of my difficulties with math. However, I was determined to go to college. Getting tested for learning disability services has also been frustrating. I am a poor test taker. Due to my learning disability, I process the question, while a test taker without one processes the answer. The testing was done to determine the exact nature of my learning disability and where to go from that point. Once again, because of the results, I was told I wouldn’t be able to go further than a community college.

After community college, they tried placing me in skilled labor and job readiness activities. I already knew how to compose a resume, look for jobs and handle job interviews. I was determined to get my four-year degree and was able to do so. I was able to find my own jobs post-college.

I spent so many years trying to fit in the little boxes everyone put me in. It wasn’t until I slowly crawled out of each of those boxes that I began to thrive. I found accommodations to help me learn at school and perform my duties at work. I have found interests I enjoy, and I have surrounded myself with people of my own choosing.

Most importantly, I have accepted the fact that I have a learning disability. No magic cure is going to heal me. I don’t have to live in the box someone put me in. I can choose the direction I want my life to go.

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