Imagine, for a minute, you are a ten year old student who doesn’t read well, is in fifth grade, and is struggling with academics, emotions, and fear of the unknown for eight hours a day at school. Imagine being given assignment after assignment, being told to read material, and feeling the angst of not knowing how day after day. Imagine, for a second, how the struggle of defeat day in and out felt for a student in your classroom or school now.
I was that student in fifth grade. I remember that gut wrenching feeling of failure and shame of not really knowing how to read well day in and out. I was tested in elementary school but didn’t really fit the mold of the ranges to be a person with a specific learning disability at first. Through the tears, the worries, the fears, and the trials, my parents didn’t give up. I, on the other hand of ten, wanted to badly.
Days and nights of frustration filled my soul. The lack of confidence, since I didn’t know how to read, engulfed me. I struggled. I needed support and I had just that when I hit rock bottom. My family chose to go outside of the district to have me diagnosed since the school district didn’t and, at that time, found out that I learned slower than peers my age, had Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Specific Learning disabilities, and a slew of other issues. Finally, an answer to the struggles.
These labels didn’t define me though. They give me a reason to fight back along the way. The labels gave me a reason to understand why I learned differently and struggled. The labels and struggles opened the doors for the support I desperately needed. Looking back, I wish the school district would have intervened earlier or had helped sooner. However, this fuels my fire to continue to face the challenge of learning disabilities and barriers along the way.
It took one person to say what I was going through wasn’t okay. It took a team of professionals one opportunity to recognize that what I was going through needed to be remedied. It took time, lots of patience, tutoring, and more patience to allow me to read and be able to understand what I read.
However, no one gave up on me and, for that, I am truly grateful for this notion. There were long hours, frustrations, tears, and struggles. The struggles didn’t magically go away as I encountered middle and high school as well as college. I just learned strategies and self advocacy along the way. I now serve a Special Education teacher. However, the struggles gave me fuel to help others so no one would have to sit in my fifth grade seat and feel like I did to this day.
There is always a reason for a trial. Whether we know it now or have to find it along the way, it’s there. It’s unending, undefined (at the moment), and untamed. However, there is a reason somewhere along the way. I never want any student to ever go through what I did and this empowers me to fuel the fire, kindle the flames, and never give up on any student. They deserve more than I received and that’s why I do what I do every day.