Specially Educated

if I’ve learned anything from my life it’s that giving up gets you nowhere.

According to my family, my speech was unintelligible at the age of 3. My parents thought I might have a hearing problem (a complication for some people with Osteogenesis Imperfecta). It wasn’t until my mom put me in pre-K–just threw me in there sink or speak–that intelligible words started coming out of my mouth. Until that time nobody could really understand what I was saying. Unless you asked my sister who would pretend she knew what I was saying and would tell my parents I wanted things I definitely did not want (thanks sis!) I myself do not remember not being able to be comprehended, but I guess that’s a good thing.

To further give me a “head start”, I went to both Preschool and PreK, again I do not remember this being weird at the time. I do have memories of going, but I mostly remember it being extremely fun and friendly. It wasn’t until I got to elementary school that I started to notice I was different and not because of my speech this time. Once I got into First grade, I remember being taken out of class for a segment of time to be put in a smaller class of students. To me I just thought I was special (hence the “Special Ed”) and needed more attention, which for the most part I did! I have nothing but wonderful memories in that class. What was even greater about my Special Ed class was that each year I could count on having the same friends in the class with me. In a way we were our own club.  We looked out for each other and always helped each other. It wasn’t until 3rd grade that I started to notice that others viewed my Special Ed class as a class for the handicapped and brainless.

This was the first year that I experienced bullying. I remember I was in Mrs. Vance’s class, and because I couldn’t see that well (before I realized not being able to see wasn’t normal either), I sat in the front of the class. I had the misfortune of being seated between two boys that I guess you could say were the two coolest kids. Now for the majority of the time in school I would remain in regular class with the other students. I can’t remember when specifically, but at some point our Special Ed teacher would come around and gather us to come to another classroom. This way, if we needed more help in subjects, we could work on them in that classroom so it could be “chunked” and reiterated for us to digest. Unfortunately, I soon came to dread the “Special Ed.” time of day.  Every time the teacher would come to pick us up, one or both of the boys would pick on me for being dumb. It was embarrassing to know that others knew you were going to a classroom because essentially you couldn’t completely – wholly – comprehend subjects. I’ll always remember being ashamed of how I couldn’t be like the normal kids. How I  was always going be different than my other non-Special Ed friends. By the end of 3rd grade, I had had enough and just wanted to be rid of these mean boys.

At the end of the year my teacher informed my parents that I seemed to be doing better. According to my mother’s recollection, I had become an organized student, and I communicated when I needed help.  I had figured out ways to compensate for my learning disability. My teacher, with the IEP team, suggested the option of repeating the 3rd grade again although I was passing with a 73. Since the 3rd grade was a vital year in a child’s learning, my teacher felt I now had better coping skills and would be more on target for comprehension if I repeated the class. I would be able to bring my grades up because I would be, in a way, better equipped and matured.  I also wouldn’t have to be taken out of class anymore! My parents were concerned how I would feel about this and gave me the option. I jumped on the opportunity, finally I could be rid of the terrible bullies and start over as a normal kid! Disclaimer: This is not to say this is the best solution for all children with a receptive language disability. Every child is unique and come around on their own sweet time.

Unfortunately, my second round of 3rd grade brought on another bully. This time, though, I wasn’t bullied for me being dumb and it wasn’t two boys. It was a girl, and if anyone has ever had a girl bully, well they are just plain mean. Somehow being bullied because someone was jealous was far better than being bullied because you were “dumb”. Besides that, repeating the 3rd grade was the best decision I had made. The only challenge I can remember from that year was learning my times tables (somehow I don’t even remember learning multiplication my first time). My teacher though was wonderful and helped me get get through them. Just don’t ask me to multiply by 13’s and I am golden. Ever since then I’ve had a pretty good grasp on how I learn. I know that I learn by asking questions, which is why I jokingly call myself the “Queen of Questions”.

I know now that I just can’t give up when things get tough. There has been a few cases where I struggled very hard to comprehend what was expected of me. There have been times when someone refused to answer my question and i just had to figure it out on my own. At those times I can remember being very anxious of messing up or failing. I hate giving up, and I try to never let myself show that I comprehend differently than others. For the most part, I learn more about myself each time and grown a thicker skin when it comes to criticism.

Never ever give up on yourself. I know everybody has something different going on with them, but if I’ve learned anything from my life it’s that giving up gets you nowhere. Working hard to prove you are capable is so rewarding. It’ll make you want to keep challenging yourself. To parents or family that have children with a learning disability, be patient with your child. Cheer them on and let them know they can do it. My parents were always supportive of me, and they never let me feel bad for getting bad grades (unless they knew I had been slacking). They always encouraged my work even if it wasn’t the best.

I would absolutely love to hear from anyone who has a learning disability, has been in Special Ed, or just wants to share his or her own story of struggle in school! Please comment or message me! Also special thanks to both my regular and my Special Ed teachers. For you are the ones that make the biggest difference.

1 Comment

  1. Micahia on August 23, 2017 at 2:51 am

    As your older sister, I remember very much the struggles you had with communicating and learning and bullies. In retrospect, I wish I had been more sensitive to it. But, I also don’t really remember thinking you were dumb. There were mostly times where I would get frustrated when you didn’t understand me because I thought you were doing it on purpose just to be mean. Perhaps my own lack of true understanding (about the learning disability) led to our inability to communicate with each other better and be closer/more supportive. I remember you always seemed to not like me and think I hated you. This was never true and we both know it… My own insecurity and negative perception of others opinions of me were a problem from before I can remember. Regardless, I’m proud of you for everything you are and have become. Especially for being able to write it out like this and share it with the world. It is unfair that we are given our own set of troubles like these from such a young age… but as you seem to have realized, these “disabilities” are what makes us who we are. Stronger, Wiser and More compassionate humans. In a way, I wish I had been given extra help in school. I don’t know if it is an actual learning disability.. but I have some sort of number dyslexia and ADD. (Didn’t even know this until after I graduated) All I did in class was draw or sleep. LOL Those combined with the depression and anxiety I have struggled with my entire life just as you have.. gave me great struggles with learning Math, finishing assignments/homework and even bullies. I was always anti-social/defensive in school until I was in more private gatherings like Girl scouts. The way you felt comforted by having friends in your special ed class, is pretty much how I felt about girl scouts. I had no friends in most of my classes… but it was comforting to know I had people outside that really liked me. It’s nice to know you aren’t alone. Perhaps I had my own problems with communicating. I am often misunderstood completely.. which is why I tend to shrink into myself and avoid people. The anxiety of being misunderstood and/or saying something wrong is overwhelming. It looks like we have a lot more in common than we ever realized. I love you.

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