Third grade. Chopped and mopped bob of milk chocolate hair on my head with razored bangs and hopelessly trustful baby brown eyes. I go to school blissfully unaware of my difference. Like any other kid I push to be normal, to fit in with others, to trade my pudding pack for a gushers at lunch, to rush to the hazy days of summer, and be able to help my sister with HER homework for once. I end up going to my normal classes, leaving the room down the sea foam green steps in the stair case to a much smaller class crowded with books, boards and chairs, tables, diagrams and teachers desks but only a few kids. They say they are going to help me, they say they are going to help me with work and class because I have a learning disability; because I learn differently. They say I need their help.
Middle school was exhausting. Sixth grade was practically jail. Stuck in a “separate learning room” that’s apparently, “just for me” as my guidance counselor explained, with the obvious subtext that I’m a ‘special’ kid. Looking through the glass window through the classroom door I realize that sarcasm towards my mental capacity is nothing new now. Slumping into my usual wooden seat in a miniature special aid classroom that should seat 20 contains 5 people minus the overly enthusiastic adult trying to teach us academics. Some days are bitter and empty jolt through the halls each day ducking to avoid friends and social interactions to draw attention to being one of the ‘special-aid kids.’ Some days our wonderful the teacher grows on me with her cheerful boisterous personality and I excel so much in my classes. If I could believe that too, that would boost my confidence and happiness.
Now I am in high school. It was a buzz kill going in—once again I was one of the ‘special kids’–one of the stupid ones. My fears are almost affirmed as I see some lingering glances of AP/honors and regular kids questioning the slip of purple paper I call my schedule. Their eyes scream with hinted confusion and off-putting disapproval. You’re not taking Algebra 2 this year? The subtext rules in like many knives. “Oh my gosh, is there something wrong with her? Maybe she’s one of those learning disabled kids! I grow to ignore their questions and condescending ‘kindness’ after sophomore year.
SO much of my life has been felt with my learning disability and I used to think just that it made me disabled. But now I realize how I only learn differently from others and equally as others. I’m no better and no worse and I’ve finally realized I just have to advocate for myself and my needs as a person. I used to think it made me less than, but now I understand I am just as intelligent as anyone else.