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What I Wish People Understood About Having Learning Disabilities

This is for all the people who didn’t take my learning disabilities seriously. This is for all the teachers who assumed I didn’t try because I didn’t get a good grade. This is for all my classmates who think saying, “I’m stupid, so I’m pretty sure I have ADD,” is acceptable.

But more importantly, this is for anyone who has felt less than his or her peers, incapable of succeeding or has been embarrassed for others to know about their learning disabilities.

Learning has always been hard for me, and I never knew why. I didn’t know why it was so hard to read. I didn’t know why it took me so long to answer a math problem. I didn’t know why all my classmates seemed to be understanding things I didn’t.

I didn’t understand until high school when I finally got some answers.

I have a really hard time reading. It takes me a long time to complete assignments. I can’t just read something and tell you what it was about. I can’t just solve a math problem for you on the spot. Sometimes I can’t understand what the teacher is asking or telling me. Most of the time I have trouble focusing.

But all of this is not for a lack of trying. See, what I need people to understand is that my learning disabilities don’t mean I don’t want to learn or I’m not putting all my effort into understanding. Because I am. My learning disabilities don’t mean I’m not as smart as my classmates or I’m not trying as hard. Because, if you ask me, my challenges mean I’m spending twice as much time on my homework, I’m spending three times as much effort on listening and I’m learning four times as much as everyone else.

I’ve spent a lot of time feeling stupid and a lot of time wishing away my learning disabilities. But what I’ve realized — and what everyone else needs to realize — is that I am smart. I am hardworking. I am diligent. I am brave for asking for help. And I am trying my best.

So thank you to my family who stayed up late doing homework with me, to my teachers who spent the time to make sure I understood, to my friends who didn’t care that I had a hard time, and most importantly, to all the people who doubted me and think that learning disabilities are an excuse. Because my learning disabilities are the reason I love to learn.

June Travis.2-001

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