Building the house of success with a disability

Photo by Jeffrey Czum on Pexels.com

From the time I was a small child, I have adored Victorian houses. I love the quirky style and the beauty of a different time. The unique style stands apart with modern houses, but has good bones to last for life. Another major part of my life was having a Learning Disability. Much like eccentric style of the houses, having a brain that isn’t neurotypical has caused me to have a brain that learns differently. Once I began to discover things that work, I was able to build the lasting house of knowledge.

The first step to building knowledge is to have a firm foundation. I was diagnosed in Kindergarten and had to repeat the grade in a new school. Along with repeating the grade I began to receive specialty instruction in math and reading. I always had an easier time reading and expressing my ideas. I can remember having a peer who asked my teacher why I was in Learning Support if I was a good reader. The teacher responded that I just need a little extra help. The reading portion of my disability deals with comprehension and identifying the important details. My difficulties with this are slight, and few people are able to tell. Having the extra help gave me the foundation to be placed in all regular education classes except for math.

After the foundation is laid, the processing of adding layers begins. The layers can only be added if their is a strong base knowledge. I can remember a special education teacher who was on a mission to make each of the students in her math class, performing math on the same level as the regular ed peers in my grade. I had the basic math facts and begin to be able to understand how to do some higher level math. It was all going well until I got stuck on on one part of the process. Rather than go backwards, and see where I needed corrected, she forged ahead. I can remember her proudly saying that we’re on the same level as the students in the regular math class.

The scaffolding on my house was crashing. To make matters more difficult she lied that there was no were no Learning Support Classes in the next grade. I was scheduled to take a basic regular education math course. I had much anxiety about not having a class where I would be supported. Much to no one’s surprise, the basic math class was too difficult for me. The teacher told my resource room teacher that she never saw such a severe case and didn’t know what to do with me. Thankfully there was a Learning Support Math class. The teacher who taught this class also wasn’t the most understanding or caring person, and neither were my peers. Many of them thought it wasn’t fair that they had to work so hard, but I had easy work. Completing simple math worksheets in a regular study hall was humbling. I needed to have a math class that was tailored to my needs to fulfill my math credit.

Due to the stigma of disability accommodations I didn’t utilize them initially. My grades suffered and everyone told me that I needed to try harder. It wasn’t until I used them, that my grades improved. When I went back to university I had a note taker, extended test time, and tutoring. Using these supports helped to level the playing field. I got better grades and was able to get my Bachelors Degree.

The misunderstanding of Learning Disabilities goes beyond the the walls of a school. When I tell people I struggle with math, most people want to help me. I have had people recommend tutoring, and adult education classes. None of these things are necessarily bad, but they won’t cure me. So many people want to fix me yet so little try to understand and accept me.

All throughout my life I will have to create a house of knowledge, that is different from the rest. My residence may not look like your typical house in your neighborhood. My house may have unique features. To some people it may not be their dream home, or ideal life. The house may be under much reconstruction, with taking previous layers off, and having to relearn things. The quirkiness gives it character and I have learned to love it. I simply need to create new ways to do things, to build the house of success with a disability.

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