Imagine being different from everyone in your school. Imagine having other people look at you day in and day out due to simply being different. That was me throughout the entirety of elementary, middle, and high school; all because I'm deaf with cochlear implants.
Before I entered the public school system, my parents had to sue the county because the county wouldn't let me attend school because they felt that they couldn't provide what I needed. All my parents wanted was for me was to go to a regular school and have a "normal" life like any other kid. Just because I am deaf doesn't mean I had to go to a "special" school for the deaf. Luckily, my parents won the case and I was able to attend public school. Of course, I received quite a bit of extra help. For example, the school provided me with an FM system, gave me extra time on tests, and other accommodations as well.
Going to public school as the only deaf student was difficult. Many students and teachers had never met a deaf person, let alone a deaf student. Many students would ask me why the teacher was wearing something around his/her neck, or why I had to leave the room when there is a test. There were times that students made fun of me because I did and had to do certain things that were different from everyone else. Most of my teachers were very considerate and willing to help me. There was a teacher that I had that was very interested in learning more about cochlear implants; so interested that my teacher came with me to an audiology appointment so my teacher can learn more about cochlear implants. Some teachers weren't so helpful and it was difficult being in those classes but I was able to get through it.
It got very lonely at times because I felt like no understood me. I didn't have another student to look up to or to ask questions. I was all on my own. However, my parents, my sister, and a few adults that were there for me and helped me along the way. They taught me how to advocate for myself and make sure that my needs were being met. I have learned how to deal with difficult challenges. From those challenges, I have learned so much and became familiar with how to deal with difficult situations. Yes, the challenges that I had were difficult, but they were also extremely rewarding. One of the biggest things that I have learned is that since I was in a class with hearing people, just because I am deaf did not mean that I couldn't do what everyone else does in class or school. For example, in high school, I got involved in various types of clubs like any other student would have done.
If you are someone that is deaf and you are the only deaf student in your school or class, embrace the difference; our differences make us human, and it is beautiful.