The month of October is full of many fun activities for children and for those who love fall. Children enjoy picking out their Halloween costume and going trick or treating. I can remember dressing up as a pilgrim, a witch and other costumes with plastic masks. Many children enjoy the chance to pretend that they are someone else, even for a day. Having a Learning Disability is a part of my identity that I can’t take off.
I hated my costume of a disability as a young child. The frustration of not being able to learn, irritated my skin like an itchy clothes tag. No matter which way I moved the tag rubbed against my tender skin. I couldn’t cut it out of the garment I was wearing. The outfit also never seemed to fit right. Often the costume was too big and too long. I would often trip on the hem of the loose frock, when I didn’t use accommodations. The dress often felt too tight when I had too many services, that were constricting me.
The part I disliked the most was how my costume made me feel different than my peers. The neurotypical students did not wear the same costume. The peers in my Learning Support classes, may have wore the costume of disability, but many of them wore one so different from me. They struggled in different areas of academics. I wasn’t accepted by either the regular education students or the learning support students. I wanted to rip my costume off and be accepted. I was tired of standing out and wanted to fit in.
I had the same costume when I graduated from high school. People outside of the small close knit community I grew up with couldn’t tell I had a disability. New people didn’t think that my outfit was different. When I tell people that I have a disability. many people are in shock. I often hear “You don’t look like you have a disability.” Other people have thought that I am putting on an act and that I am unmotivated. I have heard people say that “If you really wanted to do it you could” I have also had people who tried to tell me that I needed to get my act together or try harder. People have tried to cure me with positive thinking and adult education classes.
Lack of motivation is not the cause of my disability. It takes me longer than a neurotypical person to learn how to do many things. I also need different ways to learn things. Despite all of the efforts there are some things that I struggle with and cannot do. It’s not that I can’t learn, I have yet to find an effective way to teach me math, and help with my visual perception issues.
I have learned how to alter my costume to fit me. Some parts of the costume needed to be tighter and other parts needed to be looser. I could use a pattern as a guide, but not as an ultimate rule book. I needed to find the unique way my mind works. Learning new ways to things is a life long process. Many people thought that I would only struggle in the classroom. My difficulties extended outside of academics into the home, store, work and in the community.
The costume that I used to hate is now one that I love! I don’t mind standing out from other people. I am generally not resentful of people who are good at what I struggle with. The world needs all types of minds and would not function well if everyone did the same thing. . Instead of getting a new garment, I continue to find ways to make what I have work for me.