Honestly, note-taking is probably the area where my disability is the most pronounced, and there's a good reason for that. It didn't really become essential to me until after junior high, when I had already been taken out of the LD program. When I retested in high school, I had learned over time to compensate for my disability so well that it had almost disappeared on paper. That meant I no longer went to the LD classroom. If I had kept my IEP through high school, I would probably be able to write notes that don't look like I took them while on LSD.
I mean, I totally did take them while on LSD, but they don't have to look that way.
All Of My Childhood Fun Was Secretly Therapy
Hey, do you remember that classic childhood game where your parents cover the kitchen table in shaving cream and you use your finger to spell out difficult words in it? No? Congratulations, you probably didn't have a learning disability! In the same way that I hide pills in my dog's treats, my parents hid a lot of my therapy in fun games. I didn't even realize a lot of the fun things I did, like coloring different parts of words in crayon, were not something everyone else was doing.
At school, I had a little stick with a face on it, like the one that hosted Nick In The Afternoon. I would put it down between each word I wrote to teach me not to smush all my words together so that all my sentences looked like the word supercalifragilisticexpialidocious over and over again. I did notice that nobody else in third grade had a Stick Stickly, but I just thought that meant I was a badass and everyone else could suck it. (An opinion I hold firmly to this day.)
It's only now, as an adult, that I realize how hard my parents worked not only to help me compensate for my disability, but also to normalize my treatment. I never felt dumb, or less than anyone else, and that's because I had fantastic parents and some really good teachers who worked very hard on my behalf. Or maybe it's because I'm too dumb to realize how dumb I am. Oh god, what if it's that?
I, Like Most Learning-Disabled People, Super Excelled In Another Area
One of the big misconceptions about LD people is that we are bad at every subject or generally unable to process complex information. In my experience, it's more of an imbalance in my brain. Some LD people have genius IQ in one area paired with a low IQ in another. Agatha Chrisitie, Richard Branson, and Henry Winkler all struggled with learning disabilities. That's right, The Fonz has a learning disability, so it's officially what all the cool kids are doing now. People still emulate Fonzie, right?
In my case, I developed a very high reading comprehension. Teachers could tell from speaking to me that I was intelligent, and from reading my handwriting that I needed severe help. I'm surprised they didn't flag me as a potential serial killer. I can't tell you how many times in my life I heard, "I would think she's dyslexic if she weren't such a good reader," mostly because a big problem of mine was writing letters and numbers backwards. And in blood.
I remember my school library being divided into sections and color-coded so you knew what books were for which grade. I was always taking books from the upper-class section. The librarian worried about me reading books too mature for my age. She once told me I couldn't read The Hobbit, so I pretended to put it back and just stuffed it into my book bag and checked out a Baby-Sitters Club or something. Then I had nightmares about Gollum well into my adult life.
It turns out that reading a whole bunch is a pretty good warm up for writing a whole bunch. And now, even though the U.S. educational system has a document that says I am very bad at this thing, I do this thing for a living.
Suck it, U.S. educational system. SUCK IT, PUZZLE!
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For more check out 5 Bizarre Ways Dyslexia Is Nothing Like You Picture It and 5 Brutal Reasons 75% Of Special Ed Teachers Quit.
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