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.
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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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To The Student Battling With ADHD, You Are Not Alone

Having ADHD as a student has been a battle, but overcoming it has been a whole other challenge.
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I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was in fifth grade. Since then, I’ve always been at a constant battle with succeeding in school.

The conversation first arose when my fifth grade teacher privately spoke with my parents about how I had shown textbook signs of someone with ADHD. I would be transfixed with paper clips during lectures, have constant relentless movement, and always be in a hurry to finish quizzes and assignments, regardless of quality.

Even when I did my homework I’d sometimes forget to even turn it in.

I was fully conscious of my ADHD and how it was drastically affecting my academic performance when I got into high school. With large amounts of homework and things to keep track of, I was falling behind. My parents would do everything they could to keep me on track. They made sure I was taking my prescribed Adderall and keeping up with my assignments.

My freshman and sophomore year I slacked off and didn’t try all that hard. I wouldn’t sit down and study each night like my classmates, and with how the classes were structured, I figured out how to get by with getting decently good grades by doing the minimalist amount of effort I could.

To be honest, I never really actually learned how to study anything effectively until about three quarters of my way through my first year of college.

I’ve always been active and played all different types of sports; golf, baseball, basketball, football, lacrosse, soccer, and competitive snowboarding. Sports like football, golf, and baseball were too slow paced for me and I’d get bored with them very quickly.

With baseball, I’d be in the outfield picking dandelions and throwing my glove in the air because no one could hit the ball as far out as I was. Then when it came to football, I could never memorize the plays or commit them to memory. Even though I’d always go to my coach after practice to ask questions, on top of studying the playbook in my free time, I could just never quite get it.

But I had a big passion for lacrosse. I loved the constant back and forth action, and I ended up playing for close to nine years.

Throughout my education, I’ve figured out ways to combat my ADHD and keep myself more organized and on top of things. I would never fill out the planner books given to me in middle and elementary school.

Learning from that mistake, I got a whiteboard and list out all my homework assignments for the week from the nearest due dates to the furthest. I also try to start assignments the day I get them so I at least have a start and could slowly chip away at them as the due dates got closer.

I’ve wanted to attend the University of Oregon since I was in sixth grade, and I realized my junior year I really needed to kick it into high gear to get my GPA up and start preparing for the SAT and ACT. Every time I’d be doing homework or doing SAT/ACT prep tutoring, It was a constant worry for me. Will I be able to get my GPA up? Am I going to completely bomb the tests? Will I even get into the UO?

All in all, I achieved what I wanted to achieve. I got my GPA up, graduated high school, got into the University of Oregon, and learned a lot more about myself as a person and what I’m capable of. Now that I’m here at school, I’m constantly motivated to work harder and take advantage of the opportunity I worked so hard to get.

I’m going to all my classes, staying on top of homework, and exploring all the options I have that can progress me as a student and help start my career as a journalist. Getting into college was my first goal I really wanted to achieve. Now, it’s graduating college and giving myself the best chances I can to succeed in my adult life.

I don’t want to waste any more time like I did in high school.

Cover Image Credit: Brad Smith

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I’m Dyslexic In The Ears

My life with auditory processing disorder.
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I apologize both retroactively and in advance to anyone who has ever or will ever speak with me. Because if we’ve ever had a conversation, you soon learn to expect constant requests to repeat your last sentence, often more than once.

If we’re talking on a one-on-one basis, I might never need to make sure I heard you. In a crowd or anywhere with even a little background noise? Lord help us both.

Welcome to life with auditory processing disorder.

For the unaware, auditory processing disorder is exactly what it says on the tin. I’m not deaf or physically hard-of-hearing. Instead, my brain up and refuses to process what I’m hearing half the time.

I’ll mix up similar sounding words. That’s always fun. Long lists of verbal directions? I’ll almost always be lost before I leave the station.

Lots of people with APD also have problems with spelling and reading, for whatever reason. Spelling was never my strong suit but reading’s not something I ever shied away from. But it’s all too easy for me to space out when reading, something I’m noticing more and more the older I get. It can take a couple brief skims after my first reading to actually understand what I’m looking at.

APD is considered a learning disorder. Think like dyslexia but purely in the ears. Which is precisely what my mother used to say when I was a kid.

The problem with APD? Little’s known about it. The causes of APD are debatable. Often, APD can be caused by outside factors, like chronic ear infections and head injuries. APD can even go hand-in-hand with other disorders like true-blue dyslexia or autism.

There’s no cure. But it’s not impossible to manage. If you have it, you eventually develop your own tips and tricks. I sometimes wear noise-filtering earbuds when I know I’m going to be somewhere with a lot of background noise, like a festival or on a plane.

Context is key too. I mishear things all the time. So if I’m with friends at a bar and I get asked if I know a cure, I’ll consider the context. Bar? Most likely they didn’t mean cure. Unless it was a weird conversation, I’d probably assume I was actually being asked for a beer.

APD life has its charms... I’ll rarely understand song lyrics so most of my favorite songs mean whatever I’d like them to.

And when I can understand you, that means I’ve already mentally worked over everything you’ve said like a copyright lawyer at a bootleg Disneyland. What does this mean for you? I’ll remember the details.

In the meantime, you can make a drinking game out of everything I mishear or mispronounce. Keep it minimal, I’m of interest in helping you avoid alcohol poisoning.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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