I was never a good student for as long as I could remember. I would try to try, but for some reason nothing would click. Studying was a chore, and I would drive my parents crazy when it came to grades and studying. I would always show up, be on time, engage in class, but I just wasn’t passing the tests. This led to me being a C or D student most of my life. I have an auditory processing disorder that makes it hard to retain information right away. I have a reading comprehension disorder where I can read something perfectly but not understand a damn thing I just read. I also have Attention Deficit Disorder, and I’m slightly hearing impaired. So school was always a bit of a challenge.
It wasn’t until later in life I learned how to cope with my differences and how to work with them instead of against them. If you know someone who has learning differences, please keep these in mind.
1.) We aren’t lazy.
I can’t tell you the number of times people thought I was lazy and not trying. It’s happened in school and in the workplace. It gets so frustrating because we really are trying, but we just can’t process certain information right away. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve also been told to give up and stop trying. When you put us down because of our learning difference, it just adds fuel to the fire and we want to prove your ass wrong. We know we’re capable even if you don’t.
2.) It is a learning difference, not a disability.
You’ll notice how I called it a learning difference and NOT a learning disability. In college I went to a school that was specifically designed for learning differences, and it changed my life. I may not have realized it at the time, but Landmark College made it possible for me to learn how to learn, and it’s not a disability. All of my life I’ve been looked down on for being different, but Landmark taught me that it’s just a different way of learning, and you should NEVER be ashamed of who you are.
3.) Most of us have never felt accepted.
If you’re like me, then you know what it’s like to be treated poorly in school by your peers. I was always looked down upon for being different and was never truly accepted until college. If you meet someone with a learning difference, take the time to get to know them and their story. Most of us have interesting backgrounds and very unique talents. When I tell people I worked for Disney they often say, “You were able to hold down a job like that?” Damn right I did.
4.) Don’t underestimate us.
I have been underestimated during a majority of my life, but once people find out how much I have actually accomplished, they’re shocked, and then they feel guilty about it. People are so judgmental about us in general because they often think we’re slow and stupid. But we may be the ones teaching you something someday.
5.) If you take the time to get to know us and respect us, we remember you forever.
Even if you give us only a little bit of support, compassion, and encouragement, we remember in the long haul when we’re successful and doing our thing. We remember to thank you when it counts, and we can’t wait to make you proud when we finally hit the milestone we’ve been going after.