Updated: Aug 17, 2019
What comes to your mind when you hear someone is in special education?
Someone who is dependent on others.
Someone who needs to be fixed.
Someone who isn’t smart.
Someone who is disabled.
Someone with limitations.
Someone with a restricted future…
I too, thought these things about myself even long after I tested out of special education.
From early start kindergarten through 6th grade I had an individual education plan. I was pulled out of my classes for one on one help with reading and spelling. After a couple years the school felt that I also needed speech therapy and eventually glasses. When that didn’t work, it was determined that I needed more one on one help. After school, my parents spent additional time working with me.
I never missed a day of school, turned in every single assignment, spent hours studying, and yet I was barely passing. Nothing worked. I so desperately wanted to be one of the “normal straight A students who had it so easy.” Everywhere I turned it felt like someone was saying “you need to get good grades so you can go to a four-year college and get a good job.” The pressure to be a “perfect student” felt like gravity holding me down.
At the end of 6th grade, I finally tested out of special education. Freedom at last! A couple months later I confidently walked into junior high registration only to leave crushed. The school principal told me that in order to do well in junior high I needed to continue to get additional help. I told him no and walked out. Ten months later my hands shook as I opened my last report card of the year, six capital A’s. I carried that report card in my binder every day for a year just in case I ever needed it to make a point.
I am still a slow reader, very much so bad at spelling and self-conscious about this. I don’t know I was made this way, but I thank God for all those unanswered prayers. Through this challenge, I have learned how to use my strengths to make up the difference.
I use a calendar religiously. Audiobooks allow me to comprehend more than if I read it myself. The text to speech feature helps to point out mistakes in my writing. I know that no matter how much I study for a test the highest grade I’ll get is a C unless it’s open notes. So I focus on getting every point possible on other assignments. Yes, my amazing mom still proofreads about 50% of my writing. You know what? I’m getting A’s and B’s in my college-level classes. If I can do it, so can you.
Do not let society tell you where you are supposed to be. You can’t let little things like stop you from pursuing your passions. Keep trying new things until something works for you. No one said it would be easy, but know that if you put in the effort, it’s possible. Prove doubters wrong. Defy Gravity.