One never knows another person beginnings. One never knows the struggles in life another I person had to overcome to be in the position they are today. This reason alone, no one’s’ life should be dismissed, resented, or converted but valued. The road they travel or the sacrifice they made doesn’t announce themselves to the world, only the position they stand today matters.
Growing up in Ohio and New York, my educational success wasn’t of me. See I started life with a low expectancy to live as a baby. Then as a toddler, it was clear to that I would have difficulty in many areas. Throughout my academic life, I struggled with all things English. First, due to a severe speech impediment, I learned to speak English. That issue snowballed into me failing all spelling and vocabulary test. See if child pronunciation is incorrect, then their ability to spell the word is compromised. If their pronunciation is incorrect, then their ability to define a word correctly is compromised too. When a child’s spelling and vocabulary abilities are low, their ability to write is hindered.
During my schooling, I faced the good and the ugly. The ugly in the system that dismissed and decimates a child hopes and dreams because that child could not work according to the expected norm of the system. If IEP existed then as they do now, then I would have been Speech Impaired & Learning Disabled. However, my abilities in other areas showed hope for me. For those teachers that believed every student could succeed, I saw the good in the system. Those that understood though I struggled, I never gave up, though the battle was difficult I continued to push forward and did my best.
In areas of math and computations I excelled. Introduction to computers was a blessing in disguise. Before graduating from High School, I mastered many computer programs to the level of being able to teach others. This proved to be an asset in High School and in college and to this day. Regarding areas of memorization, I excelled such that unintended plagiarism haunted my report writing as early as the seventh grade. Ms. Builder was the first to not only degrade my ability but ensured that cheating was the last way I ever wanted to be perceived. She restricted stories she felt was too advanced for me to comprehend and discussed. Then refused to accept my work as my own when I submitted it. I never forget the day I went to the assistant principal for arguing that I myself complete the book report without copying passages. At the office, I rewrote the report almost verbatim to the first report without the aid of the story or prior report. My ability to retain a photographic memory of what I read the help and hinder me in compensating for my deficiencies with the English grammar.
But to say my seventh-grade teacher was the last teacher that would mock my abilities and set barriers for my abilities would be wrong. In eighth grade, my English teacher continued the insults and degrading. A project was to explain something about our life or dreams turn out to be the last creative piece I did for some years. Being a lover of Greek mythology, I used characters and depictions from that literary genre to tell my story. Instead of understanding, my work criticized as delusional, immature and lack of form of normalcy or reality. We use to tell kids that “stick and stones may break my bones but word would never hurt them”, such a lie. The words were spoken by teachers and others in authority plants seeds of destruction, doubt, and roadblocks to dreams. It’s funny, those to teachers hated my ability to succeed so much that for my English citywide and Regents, they had my tests re-scored many times by multiple teachers because they were positive there was no way I could have passed. Yes, I failed or just passed the spelling and vocabulary sections, but aced the reading comprehension and essay. Even with my creative spelling, my punctuation, syntax and sentence structure was on point, allowing me to squeak by with a high enough grade to pass and receive a Regents Diploma from High School. Thankfully just as I had haters grading my papers, I had cheerleaders in the same group. I call them my guardian angels who watched over me during those periods in my life.
In college, my struggles continued until one advisor set me down to understand how I could pass every oral review and fail the written exams. Eventually, I tested to discovered I was/am dyslexic. Not learning disabled, not incapable of succeeding but wired in a way that conventional teaching was not adequate enough to teach me to my fullest potential.
Today I stand as an advocate for children with special needs. As stand a blogger to bring hope and belief to parents whose child is struggling under various diagnoses. I stand pose on the cuffed of being a published fiction and nonfiction author.
October is awareness month for those labeled with learning difficulties. It is my belief every child can learn and succeed. Not every child will be a rocket scientist, but every child given the time and tools can learn to communicate effectively their thoughts and needs. Education isn’t a one method fits all. Nor should once force children to fit in a mold created absent of them in mind. Free public education should not contain a single ideology that stereotype or label children who do not perform to another’s expectation. It should allow various methods to reach all children. For those that can sit and learn, let them sit. For those that need to stretch and move, let them move. We must demand as parents that our children receive an education without their spirits to achieve and strive slew in negativity. As parents, we can insist that classrooms and educators teach each child according to his/her learning style and pace and not to a test that gives no meaning to the child’s true potential. As an educator, we must open our mind to different methodologies to reach each child regardless of race, creed or religion.
This Awareness Month, let’s bring the awareness that disabilities’ means different abilities that require different teaching styles, but we all can SOAR to our individual height.