My Life With A Developmental Disability
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My Life With A Developmental Disability

A college girl's life with deafness, autism and PDD.

My Life With A Developmental Disability

For the first few years of my life I was "normal". I did things that all babies are supposed to do, like crawl, giggle, learn to walk, babble. But then the babbling stopped, or at least never turned into actual words. It took time for my family to realize the truth.

I had become deaf.

I was three years old when I had surgery and medications to correct my crummy ear canal, which was irregularly shaped and full of fluid. Although I could hear again, I was developmentally delayed. In fact, I was diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) or autism.

That meant I had to repeat kindergarten, be put in special needs classes as well as mainstream ones, go to speech therapy and go to occupational therapy. All so I could learn to talk, interact with others, hold things without constantly switching hands or dropping them and read. Some of the kids in pre-k teased me, bullied me,. The teacher at the time did nothing and would often get annoyed with me. My mother switched me to a different teacher but the damage to my psyche had already been done.

As I grew older I mastered reading and writing. In fact, those became one of the few areas in life I was good at, perhaps even one of the best at. However, in almost every other area of life I was a loser, a pariah. I made only two friends in elementary school due to my shyness, awkwardness and inability to control my emotions. I could not look people in the eye, stop myself from crying whenever I failed a test or got scolded by a teacher, take criticism well, keep up a conversation or start one or say more than a few words whenever I was spoken to by a peer or adult.

Oftentimes I ended up alone. My two friends both went to different schools in elementary school, leaving me alone. People only invited me to parties or get-togethers because they felt sorry for me, which made me feel embarrassed. One boy in third grade spread a rumor about me being blind, deaf and dumb, which made me cry for days. In middle school, one of those friends was with a different crowd. One of her new friends treated me like a bug and did whatever she could to have our mutual friend to herself. I made another friend, but she abandoned me for the popular crowd one we reached high school. That was when my one childhood friend and I made a new friend, forming a trio of our own.

It embarrassed me that my twin brother was a grade ahead of me. I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me whole whenever a classmate or any kid asked me why my twin was in a different grade. I constantly asked Mom, especially in middle school, if I could skip a grade. She kept saying no, that you had to meet certain criteria. A part of me knew I was not smart enough, mostly because of my disabilities. So I did not mention that my brother and I were twins, or avoided talking about my brother.

I was too scared to drive when I turned 16. My parents did not allow me to drive to college until I was in my sophomore year. They kept telling me I was not ready, which made me argue with Mom constantly until she yielded. I was mortified when my friends found out my parents or older sister dropped me off places or that I took the train.

Up until college I was too shy and thought too low of myself to join any clubs. I joined an art club and charity club but only for about a year, if that. Even then I did not talk to people and they did not talk to me. If my friends were not at lunch, I sat with classmates who were friendly to me or felt sorry for me, mostly both. Other times I found shelter in the library.

I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression in middle school. Being a failure at social interaction, having a tutor and knowing you are different from other people will do that to you. So I was put on medication and forced to see therapists. I opened up to none of the therapists, too ashamed of my incompetence and what I thought was my own stupidity. I did not open up to my family either - even after being medicated and going to therapy. I couldn't take their pity anymore. I constantly wished that I had never been born or that I could turn back the clock and make things right.

Ever since I was a little girl I felt my family was ashamed of me. I could see how sad and frustrated they were whenever I had a tantrum, got into trouble, needed extra help, was bullied or threatened to hurt myself at home. A part of me hoped they would send me away somewhere so I would not have to see their disappointment.

In college I have flourished. I have more than two friends, I am in a sorority, I don't need a tutor or therapist anymore, I drive, I have a job dog walking, I don't sit home all the time, I have lost weight, I have been to parties and bars and I have had two positions in the sorority. I have made the Dean's Honor List every semester and recently I got accepted into two honor societies, one for my major, psychology. A few close friends know about my past since I have learned to not be so ashamed of it and because a lot of people I know have disorders or illnesses.

Today I will reveal my secrets to the world, or at least people who see this article. I do not care if they know because I feel normal now. Then again, what is normal? In fact, a lot of college students take pride in standing out.

So if you pity me, don't. I hate pity. Feel proud of me and feel proud of whatever you consider a setback in your own life. I admit that I sometimes find myself wishing I could go back in time and make myself different. However, my story is proof that even someone with the lowest expectations, especially from other people, can prosper.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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