At the beginning of every University semester, I need to go through the awkward conversation of validating my non-verbal learning disability. This usually involves a very medicalised perspective of ticking off boxes to validate why I’m worthy of receiving certain accommodations. I’ve learned through my educational years, that I need to be my own voice and my own advocate. Unfortunately, a paper doesn’t justify enough and is just a black and white document.
Every semester, I usually have to break the ice with my new professors and describe my needs and accommodations. As a Disability Studies student, it comes as no surprise how some professors are more accepting towards my disability than others. It becomes a tedious and tiring process of owning my disability and interpreting it in a normalised and ableist society. Asking for accomodations can sometimes be quite the dehumanizing process. Universities weren’t designed for students like me, but I’m owning my worth and that alone is enough to know I’ll make it.
Somewhere along my educational journey, I started to learn how to embrace my non-verbal learning disability and not feel ashamed to ask or use my accommodations. Without receiving extra time and a half or a quiet space on an exam, I’d fail. Without being able to receive an extension on an assignment worth 30% of my mark, my anxiety would cripple me and I wouldn’t be able to finish. Without having access to assistive technology because I’m an auditory learner, I wouldn’t be able to grasp what I’m learning.
Accommodations may be perceived to outsiders as “the easy way out” but to me they’re my lifeline. Without having access to accommodations, I wouldn’t be achieving A’s in University! Something, I never thought or saw as being possible. I take twice as long as my other peers to finish an assignment, and the thought of using my accommodations used to evoke anxiety. I’ve learned that it’s okay to learn a little bit differently. If you’re struggling to ask for an accommodation please, I encourage you to do it! Accommodations will never measure or validate your worth. We all learn differently, and we all need different tools in order to be successful. That doesn’t make you any less of a human. I promise you, you are worth more than your accommodations!
I’m a graduate of the Child & Youth Worker program from Cambrian College and I’m pursuing my degree in Disability Studies at Ryerson University along with a certificate in Aboriginal Knowledges & Experiences. I am a Project Social Ambassador for The NVLD Project.Share your own story