Why You Are Not Your Learning Disability
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Health and Wellness

Why You Are Not Your Learning Disability

Your disability doesn't have to define you.

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Why You Are Not Your Learning Disability
Molly Patterson

Most kids learn how to read by around age 6. I learned how to read at age 9. I couldn’t read until the 3rd grade. My hand writing was atrocious. I couldn’t ride a bike. I didn’t know which was left and which was right, or I thought I did but would mix them up. I couldn’t spell properly, and I’d spell the same word four different ways in the same paper. I never picked up on grammatical patterns and was so far behind my peers.

I went to a charter school for kindergarten through 2nd grade. While I’m typically a huge advocate for charter schools this one was terrible. They completely twisted the idea of a Montessori education and turned it into something where we were left to our own devices. Essentially what I’m saying is that no one taught me. This worked for some people. But for me, my disability was already constricting my development and we didn’t even know it, so the fact that no one was actually teaching me just made things worse.

My mom works in education and she knew when she looked at my work that something was wrong. She fought with the school and our district to test me for dyslexia and at first they refused. One of my teachers told my mom, “Maybe she just isn’t as smart as you think she is.” No way was my mom taking that. My parents had a meeting with my school and my dad likes to joke that he was physically holding my mom down the whole time. I don’t doubt that there is a little truth to it.

I got tested for a learning disability in the spring of 2nd grade. My results came back that although my intelligence was way above average, I had dyslexia and it was suffocating my capabilities. The way that the test works is; they use one test to measure your intelligence and another to measure your disability. If you’ve ever taken this test you know that after it you suffer from the worst headache you’ll ever have. I had never worked my brain so hard in my life.

Having a learning disability such as dyslexia means a lot of things. The one thing it absolutely does not mean is that you’re stupid, or lazy. It does however, mean that you’re going to have to work a hell of a lot harder than your peers. I’ve always been self-conscious of things like my hand-writing, leaving the room for tests, and things as simple as reading out loud in class. My friends in middle school all had really pretty and curvy hand writing while I would compare mine to my little brother’s handwriting. I still stumble when I’m reading out loud but it doesn’t bother me anymore.

I am thankful that I was born with dyslexia. No, I will never grow out of it. It has been 11 years since my diagnosis and I don’t struggle as much anymore. Sometimes I still have to make “L”s with my hands to tell my left from my right but it doesn’t matter. Sometimes I stumble over words when I read aloud but who cares? I used to let my dyslexia define me as dumber than everyone else. Now I know that it doesn’t define my intelligence, rather because of it I can define myself by my work ethic. Since the 3rd grade I spent my time in school working my hardest just to keep up and eventually surpassed my peers. Now I'm an English major (weird right?). I'm on dean's list with a scholarship at a small liberal arts school so hopefully I really am as smart as my mom hoped I was going to be back in the 2nd grade.

Your learning disability does not have to define you. Do not allow it to bring you down. Do not let others bring you down because of it. It is never too late to diagnose a learning disability but the earlier the better.

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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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