Having a disability often feels like running a race. You will have to go through rigorous training and will be up against opponents who are far more skilled. The race may not seem fair or easy. Nevertheless you must run the course you are given.
When I began the race I was unprepared for the prospect of having a disability. Thankfully I did have a preschool teacher who did warm me up to school. My preschool teacher thought something was atypical with my learning and suggested another year of preschool. I was my parents first child and they thought I would catch up. My Kindergarten teacher saw me having trouble with math, visual perception, and social skills. I struggled to tie my shoes or catch a ball. My peers were racing ahead of me and I was left behind, leaving me frustrated. I wanted to learn, and fit in with my peers. I was diagnosed with a Learning Disability and had to repeat Kindergarten the following year.
I was moved into a different school in my district. Along with repeating the grade, I also began to receive Learning Support Instruction. My Learning Support teacher acted as a coach. My teachers worked hard with my parents to develop an Individual Education Plan (IEP). I had accommodations such as extended test time, having tests read aloud, calculator use when I got older, and making sure that I was seated at the front of the classroom. I also received specialty instruction in reading, math, and had speech therapy. I began to attend science and social studies classes with regular education peers with accommodations. Eventually I was in all regular education classes except for math.
Slowly my grades began to improve and I found that I could learn! Many of the strategies I was given were the foundation for what I would need for success. I couldn’t take my IEP with me to college, but I could use the accommodations to help me. Initially I didn’t use the accommodations when I began college, because of the stigma attached. My grades dropped and I struggled in my classes without the proper support. Once I used the accommodations, my grades improved and learning became a smoother path.
The challenges of my disability didn’t break me, rather they made me stronger. My muscles were strengthened by added resistance. My heart and lungs became more conditioned with every step.
My Learning Disability is more of a marathon than a sprint. I will always have this and it will create new problems. At times I will watch other people pass by me, and as much I try I may not be able to catch up. I have to learned to set my own pace and find what works for me. I have also learned not to compete with others, but with myself. I push myself to do my best and to learn from my mistakes. Sometimes the journey can be lonely and people often compare me to neurotypical people. Many of my results have not looked like success and I often didn’t get a trophy. I have learned that comparing myself to others is a trap. When I compare myself to others I will always be disappointed. When I find easy ways to do what is difficult for me, I can run my race of having a disability with success.