I Learn Differently By Halie Proshuto Age 17

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.

Halie photoSO 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.

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8 Responses to “I Learn Differently By Halie Proshuto Age 17”

  1. Olivier Derbesy-LanariFebruary 25, 2014 at 7:04 am #

    I have a learning disability too and I think I can relate to the some of your differences. It frustrates me a little to see most people in my class get good grades easily while I work very hard to get the same grade. Something else that bothers cause of my learning disability is the reading. everyone says that the spent 30 minutes on the reading and I spend double the time.

  2. Agostinho ZacariasFebruary 25, 2014 at 7:02 am #

    I really enjoyed reading your post. I’ve recently just discovered that I suffer from a learning disability and it is very hard to come to terms with. Fortunately the learning support program at my shcool is work with me and how to function in society even with such impairments which is waht any good learning support system should accomplish. Thank so much for sharing, it always comforting for people go through the smae things as one another.

  3. Agostinho ZacariasFebruary 25, 2014 at 6:50 am #

    I really enjoyed reaidng your post. I’ve recently learned that I suffer from a learning disabilty and I am still trying to cope with the challenges and as you said being just as smart as anyone else, especially in a high school community. Thank you very much for sharing.

  4. Sami WolfFebruary 25, 2014 at 3:12 am #

    Coming from someone who sympathies with you, I wish you the best and know that even if it’s hard we can all get through it. As my grandma once told me “Nobody’s normal” it sounds odd but if you really think about it, nobody is, we all are a little “off” on the inside.

  5. Taurian GrahamFebruary 25, 2014 at 2:58 am #

    To my knowledge I do not have a disability, but I have experienced the same condescending kindnesses and even harsh judgement of my class choices, and grades by my peers. It is unfair to judge by your mental capacity and what others may define as smart or special. Even now my grades are still judged whether I do well or sufficient. I so those who judge me by my intelligence as those who seek conformation of their social standings in their academics.

  6. jorgeFebruary 25, 2014 at 1:33 am #

    my response: hello Halie I read your story and I find it really amusing on how you accept your self that you are like everyone else and smart and that only difference is that you got different ways to learn. this article is really brings my confidence up. I personally I have always try to fit in but I never do , because I\’m unique in my own way and they just don\’t accept that.
    thanks to you now I know that I need to accept my self the way I\’m and don\’t care if I don\’t fit in.

  7. Charley KlimperFebruary 24, 2014 at 4:34 am #

    I found your post fascinating. As someone who has a “learning disability” myself it helped me understand where you’re coming from. I find that it helps to have kind, patient teachers and to find friends or join clubs with interests similar to your own.

    • MegZuckerFebruary 24, 2014 at 8:09 pm #

      Thanks Charley–I’ll make sure Halie sees your comment….

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