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To Students With Learning Disabilities Who Dread the First Day of School

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Dear kids with learning disabilities,

Unfortunately it’s that time of year again where it’s time to transition back to the traumatic place many kids with learning disabilities know as school. You may put a fake face on when your family keeps asking if you’re excited to go back. You may roll your eyes when you hear, “going back will be fun since you’ll see all your friends and teachers again” and “school isn’t that bad,” when little do they know it’s nothing but trauma waiting for you.

The night before, all the dread and interconnected fears kick in.

“What will my new teacher think of me?”

“Will the work be too hard?”

“Will my peers accept me?”

“Will I finally be in the regular class more?”

“Will it all be worse than last year?”

You may experience intense flashbacks of various negative classroom experiences that range from getting called “stupid” by your peers all the way to ignorant comments, embarrassment and failure you never thought was possible. Then desperation for a good year kicks in.

I know you are trying to remain optimistic, but the chain of fear may continue into your first day. You may go through the motions while feeling super self-conscious and anxious as your fears overwhelm your mind. From there, low self-esteem from educational trauma and repeated failure takes over. You may start to wish your grades matched your effort or even that you could be someone else. Then comes the desperation for confidence and how you want nothing more than to “get it” and be the successful, independent student you (and your SPED team) dream you can be. Will this be “your year” or just another year with more disappointment and trauma waiting for you?

I know you most likely hear this all the time, but no matter how impossible it feels to beat your challenges, please persevere and keep going. You work extremely hard and although it may feel like it isn’t coming close to paying off, it will one day. Trust me, I’ve been there. You are strong enough to get through this, and as long as you keep trying your best, things will turn out OK.

I know the trauma and the school fear it brings isn’t easy to let go of or move on from, but you are more than your learning disability, no matter what happens. You are smart, and it will eventually come out and it’ll be the most rewarding feeling ever. You will prove everyone who doubted you wrong and get to experience the success you always dreamed of. I believe in you.

Getty image by bmcent1.

Originally published: August 18, 2019
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