A couple of weeks ago one of the Care Gift Elves, the charity and blog my friends and I run together, inspired me to come out and talk about my ADHD and Learning Disability (LD). In school everyone wants to fit in. People think people should be a certain way but it is not always that way. There are kids and teachers that judge too quickly. Some kids even bully and that is why I kept my struggles with my LD to myself, until now.
Before I knew about my LD, I used to be afraid of going to school because I didn’t want to get embarrassed when reading out loud or solving math problems at the board. I always thought that no matter how hard I tried, I wouldn’t be as good as the other kids in my class. Math was a struggle and so was writing and reading. I tried to hide it as much as I could. Funny enough my grades were never that bad so my parents and teachers didn’t really notice at the beginning.
I would get homework that was supposed to take me only 20 minutes but for me it took over 2 hours, especially math. I would just sit there not understanding anything. It was like I was stuck underneath a pile of rocks and couldn’t get out. Sometimes in class, I would just look at the window and go into La La land; I’d zone out and lose focus. Some of my friends used to say that they could read a book in one day or a week. It took me many weeks or even months. That really frustrated me, especially because I LOVE books. I really love stories and telling stories.
I felt discouraged, embarrassed, different and left out because I always had to work harder than all of my friends. It didn’t matter how hard I worked it wasn’t enough. At home, my parents were also starting to lose their patience and sometimes didn’t believe me when I told them that I did study or read my homework. I would think to myself, “Why can’t I read a book that fast or do my homework that quickly? Why is it so hard for me to understand or remember things?” I was sad and I started to show it through not being able to sleep at night, getting anxious and having lots of attitude.
One day, one of my teachers talked to my parents about how I was struggling in writing and how she had noticed my grades dropped and certain patterns in my behaviour. Especially when it came to reading aloud or copying from the board. See, for you it is probably the easiest thing to just copy something, but for me it isn’t. It is hard for me to focus on lines when I am reading and often I skip letters, words or even sentences. I need to concentrate really hard and it is better now but about two years ago it was soooooooooo hard. My LD is not only a challenge in school. It also takes me longer to memorize dance choreographies during ballet class or read my music sheet during piano lessons. My short-term memory is a bit of a problem, so I forget.
My teacher told my parents that I should take an assessment. My parents listened to her and I took the test at York University. It was actually a lot of fun and the people there were very nice. When I got the results, I was diagnosed with a Learning Disability and ADHD. When I found out I was so relieved because for all of those years, I really thought that there was something wrong with me and that I wasn’t smart. I literally felt like a bunch of rocks were taken off my back. The doctors explained to me that I had actually done really well on the tests and that I was really smart and that my brain was just wired differently. They said that I would just have to find different ways to learn and that with time I would know exactly how. My parents and I were happy because at least now I knew that if I kept on trying and studying in a new way, everything would get better.
I still have to work hard to get good grades and when I write these stories for my blog I have 3-4 drafts, but it’s worth the trouble. I LOVE writing. I guess the way I see it now is that I have a little friend living in my brain and its name is LD. Just like with my real friends there are good and bad days. Having a LD has taught me many good things, like not to give up and to work hard. It has made me more empathetic and stronger.
Anyhow, the reason why I wrote about my LD is because I wanted to let everyone know that having a disability isn’t a bad thing. It’s something you have, but it doesn’t define you. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Whether it is a LD, a mental or physical disability, everyone should accept themselves the way they are. Be kind to yourself especially when you are having a rough time. Always believe in yourself! I know it can be hard sometimes, but never give up! And for the kids out there that judge too fast or make fun of kids like me, think before you open your mouth and say something hurtful. We all have strengths and needs.
Click here to access Angelina’s blog.
Angelina is a ten year old girl in grade 5. She runs her own charity/youth group with six of her friends out of her home. Their main motto is to spread kindness. They get together at least once a month and try to make a positive impact in their community. Since three of them like to write they just started their own blog where they not only write about their charity initiatives and projects, but also about every day pre-teen issues like bullying, kindness, school pressure, learning difficulties, gender issues, growing up, etc…
Angelina has learned a lot about herself while leading this group and has been greatly inspired and encouraged by her peers. Although school is not always easy, Angelina feels comfortable now to talk about her learning disability and to advocate for herself. She wants to spread awareness about LDs and help remove the stigma or negative perception that it still has in many classrooms, especially among kids but also adults.
Reprinted with permission from Care Gift Elves.