Having A Learning Disability Doesn't Mean I'm UnIntelligent

Having A Learning Disability Doesn't Mean I'm UnIntelligent

Learning disabilities don't define your smarts.

When most people hear the term 'learning disability', the automatic assumption is that people who have one are un-intelligent and dumb. I have heard multiple times that many others think that we are not capable of having smarts.

When I was around eight years old, I remember having to see many professionals, trying to come to a conclusion about a diagnosis. My teachers noticed that I had a different learning style than my classmates, therefore, catching my parents' attention, so they wanted to figure out how my learning could be improved.

All I remember is being forced to take test after test. Eventually, I was diagnosed with a learning disability, specifically in math, along with executive functioning issues. While most children my age could handle understanding certain topics, I couldn't. Although I was a very fast reader, I did not take time to comprehend the meaning. During math, I was able to solve a problem one way, but not able to the other way, as I was already used to that first way. If it was a new task, I would struggle with learning it. I had an IEP throughout elementary, middle and high school, and a case manager each year to help me set goals for my education.

As I got older, the executive functioning problems started to disappear. Today, being a college sophomore, the executive functioning is normal, but I still have a learning disorder that is mathematics-related, although, I have greatly improved.

It does not take me as long to understand different methods and solutions to solving math problems. I am no longer in need of an IEP or special services. Typically, a person with a learning disability has average or a little bit above average performance on one topic but can excel at another.

I, personally, have always excelled at Language Arts/English. As long as I can remember, I would always correct people on their spelling and grammar and have been quick to catch errors. I still do to this very day (part of me just can't help it!) I've always received As and Bs on papers, recently earning a 97 percent on an eight-page research paper.

I was placed into the highest level of English my first semester of college, which isn't very common. My reading comprehension is now of normal function, and I was even recently hired as a writing tutor at my university's tutoring center to give assistance to students that struggle in English. And that job requires above average writing skills.

So, you see, people with learning disabilities are as smart as you. Sure, we may not be the best at a subject, but it's just a part of being human. Even people who were not diagnosed with a learning disability still struggle.

I'm sure you aren't perfect in every single subject. So don't go out with your big mouth and accuse us of being dumb. We are perfectly capable of being placed into normal, honors and even AP courses. We can excel as much as you.

After all, everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. We are humans, we all make mistakes. So, no, I don't have to listen to your words. I know I am smart, and I know I am still able to graduate college and get a job. Learning disabilities do not dictate where we are headed in life, and it does not define me.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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Yes, I Had A Stroke And I'm Only 20

Sometimes bad things happen to good people.

Recently, I read an article on Cosmo that was written by a woman that had a stroke at the ripe old age of 23. For those of you who don't know, that really doesn't happen. Young people don't have strokes. Some do, but it's so incredibly uncommon that it rarely crosses most people's minds. Her piece was really moving, and I related a lot -- because I had a stroke at 20.

It started as a simple headache. I didn't think much of it because I get headaches pretty often. At the time, I worked for my parents, and I texted my mom to tell her that I'd be late to work because of the pain. I had never experienced a headache like that, but I figured it still wasn't something to worry about. I went about my normal routine, and it steadily got worse. It got to the point that I literally threw up from the pain. My mom told me to take some Tylenol, but I couldn't get to our kitchen. I figured that since I was already in the bathroom, I would just take a shower and hope that the hot steam would relax my muscles, and get rid of my headache. So I turned the water on in the shower, and I waited for it to get hot.

At this point, I was sweating. I've never been that warm in my life. My head was still killing me. I was sitting on the floor of the bathroom, trying to at least cope with the pain. Finally, I decided that I needed to go to the hospital. I picked up my phone to call 911, but I couldn't see the screen. I couldn't read anything. I laid down on the floor and tried to swipe from the lock screen to the emergency call screen, but I couldn't even manage that. My fine motor skills were completely gone. My fingers wouldn't cooperate, even though I knew what buttons needed to be pressed. Instead of swiping to the emergency call screen, I threw my phone across the room. "Okay," I thought, "Large muscle groups are working. Small ones are not".

I tried getting up. That also wasn't happening. I was so unstable that I couldn't stay standing. I tried turning off the running water of the shower, but couldn't move the faucet. Eventually, I gave up on trying to move anywhere. "At what point do I just give up and lie on the floor until someone finds me?" That was the point. I ended up lying on the floor for two hours until my dad came home and found me.

During that two hours, I couldn't hear. My ears were roaring, not even ringing. I tried to yell, but I couldn't form a sentence. I was simply stuck, and couldn't do anything about it. I still had no idea what was going on.

When the ambulance finally got there, they put me on a stretcher and loaded me into the back. "Are you afraid of needles or anything?" asked one EMT. "Terrified," I responded, and she started an IV without hesitation. To this day, I don't know if that word actually came out of my mouth, but I'm so glad she started the IV. She started pumping pain medicine, but it didn't seem to be doing anything.

We got to the hospital, and the doctors there were going to treat me for a migraine and send me on my merry way. This was obviously not a migraine. When I could finally speak again, they kept asking if I was prone to migraines. "I've never had a migraine in my whole life," I would say. "Do you do any drugs?" they would ask. "No," I repeated over and over. At this point, I was fading in and out of consciousness, probably from the pain or the pain medicine.

At one point, I heard the doctors say that they couldn't handle whatever was wrong with me at our local hospital and that I would need to be flown somewhere. They decided on University of Maryland in Baltimore. My parents asked if I wanted them to wait with me or start driving, so I had them leave.

The helicopter arrived soon after, and I was loaded into it. 45 minutes later, I was in Baltimore. That was the last thing I remember. The next thing I remember was being in the hospital two weeks later. I had a drain in my head, a central port, and an IV. I honestly didn't know what had happened to me.

As it turns out, I was born with a blood vessel malformation called an AVM. Blood vessels and arteries are supposed to pass blood to one another smoothly, and mine simply weren't. I basically had a knot of blood vessels in my brain that had swelled and almost burst. There was fluid in my brain that wouldn't drain, which was why my head still hurt so bad. The doctors couldn't see through the blood and fluid to operate, so they were simply monitoring me at that point.

When they could finally see, they went in to embolize my aneurysm and try to kill the AVM. After a successful procedure, my headache was finally starting to subside. It had gone from a 10 on the pain scale (which I don't remember), to a 6 (which was when I had started to be conscious), and then down to a 2.

I went to rehab after I was discharged from the hospital, I went to rehab. There, I learned simple things like how to walk and balance, and we tested my fine motor skills to make sure that I could still play the flute. Rehab was both physically and emotionally difficult. I was constantly exhausted.

I still have a few lingering issues from the whole ordeal. I have a tremor in one hand, and I'm mostly deaf in one ear. I still get headaches sometimes, but that's just my brain getting used to regular blood flow. I sleep a lot and slur my words as I get tired. While I still have a few deficits, I'm lucky to even be alive.

Cover Image Credit: Neve McClymont

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19 Reasons Tutoring Is One Of The Best Ways To Spend Your Time In College

As stressful as it can be, I love it as much as I love writing.


A while ago, I wrote an article about what not to do when getting tutored (which could pretty easily be generalized to basic life advice). I worked on it for two days, and it was very much an article that was driven by me being driven crazy. It was a hectic time in the semester, and I was getting more difficult students than normal.

However, I love my job. I love tutoring students in their writing, and I love working the front desk. I'm not an extrovert or outgoing by any means, but something about being able to help people... I love it. To balance out the article that was a lot of me ranting, I wanted to write about all the reasons I love what I do.

1. Genuine smiles

While my smile can sometimes end up looking like the Grinch's, I love when people respond with brightness and light. There's something about legitimate human happiness that makes the world seem so much brighter, and I get to see that every day.

2. General diversity

I won't say I grew up sheltered, but I kind of grew up sheltered. People are so different, and it's amazing. While we tutors all tend to have at least one thing in common, the students that come in are often on whole other spectra. I love it, and I love getting to see all of it.

3. Time to study

I know this article is about reasons I love tutoring, but honestly there's down time to this job that I can use to catch up on my studying. There is a fairly predictable gap at the front desk of when people aren't likely to come in, just like you start to learn what times people will always come in.

4. Smart co-workers

My co-workers are smart. We may all be nerds about the English language, but we're not all English majors. In fact, I can't think of a co-worker off the top of my head that's an English major. There are so many skill sets here that aren't just about English, I know I likely have a co-worker that can help me with any subject.

5. Time to write

Along with having time to study, I have time to write. As a creative writer, that gives me all the strength I need to get through a rough day. It also gives me items I can show to tutees—examples of what to do versus not to do and showing that I'm just as prone to mistakes as they are.

6. Smart students

Needing help in a subject doesn't mean anything about your intelligence, which I think is something people tend to forget. I love helping the exceptionally bright students because they always have something new for me to learn.

7. Slow days

They can really grind on you if it's several days, but when you've been feeling swamped by work/school/personal life and the work day happens to be slow? It's a much-loved reprieve.

8. Fast days

On the other hand, having a day that's packed full of items makes the workday go by so fast, and it's quite nice.

9. It's never the same day

Ok, so I picked this GIF because I thought it was funny and not because the ever-changing workday is Boo bashing my head. I really like how no day is ever the exact same as another. Being a tutor has the right balance between change and consistency.

10. Hearing stories

Even though I'm not a people person, I love people. I love hearing about someone's life, and that happens a lot more as a writing tutor than I would have expected.

11. Explaining a grammatical rule I love

This is me when I realize I get to talk someone's ear off about one of my favorite grammatical rules or something as simple as the difference between two words. What can I say? I'm an absolute word nerd.

12. Bashing a grammatical rule I hate

Similarly, this is me getting prepared to tear apart a rule I hate. No Oxford comma? What do you mean, no Oxford comma? If there's a student with a similar view as mine on grammatical rules, it's a great time.

13. Overhearing conversations

Ok, yes, you can overhear a conversation literally anywhere, but where else can you be paid to overhear co-workers and the students they're working with have weird conversations that are actually totally related to the paper being worked on?

14. White boards

I love my white board. Use it for outlining a paper, use it to better explain grammatical rules visually or just use it to write down all of the student's ideas in the hopes of something working for them. It's versatile and easy enough to clean — plus you can both work on it!

15. The look of understanding

There's a specific look I recognize well; I call it the "Look of Understanding." It only happens when a student understands a concept that's been plaguing them for a while, but I think it's one of the most magical things to exist.

16. Working with an international student

International students are among my favorite to work with. We learn a lot from each other in such a short time (usually an hour), and in that time I get to watch them grow. These students are the most sponge-like ever and so curious, they remind me to never take any of my knowledge for granted.

17. Working with a student who genuinely wants to learn more


Similar to the international students, all-around curious students are up there as my favorites. They often have the Look of Understanding and want to know more until their session is over. Having people be actually interested in what I have to say is one of the best feelings.

18. People thinking I'm pretty cool

Everybody likes having their ego stroked once in a while, and sometimes this job does just that. Similar to the Look of Understanding (but less rare), some people will just compliment me more than I think an undergraduate writing tutor really deserves. It just goes to show: something you take for granted and don't think is all that special, someone else may think of as totally amazing.

19. Bettering myself

Yes, yes, this is a general thing that I could do outside my job, but honestly, I've made myself a much better person by working here. Better at working with people, better at putting myself out there, better at accepting what I'm good at... a lot of things, really, that I could spend a whole article on.

Cover Image Credit:

SHSU Academic Success Center

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