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Ryan

Location: Pennsylvania

Age: 36

College: York College of PA

Profession: Teaching assistant

Biography: My parents did not know what kind of kid they would get. Early on I was a tough baby struggling with things. My parents did not know that later that their son would have a nonverbal learning disability. At the age of 5, I was tested and officially diagnosed with a nonverbal learning disability. For those of you that do not know what a nonverbal learning disability is, let me explain it to you. A nonverbal learning disability is a neurological condition marked by a collection of academic and sometimes social difficulties. Over the years, I received occupational therapy and accommodations in school. I had a 504 which is a plan for students that need accommodations in regular education. This means I had many tutors, counselors, and academic advisors. School was not easy for me. I got taken advantage of a lot and bullied by kids. Many days I would come home and cry and think about why they are not including me. I would go to games and events by myself and then after them wonder why they would not invite me to the parties or outings. The kids would take advantage of me by me giving them rides and giving them money and they would not give me any gas money. I was too scared to say anything in fear of them not wanting to hangout. That was my way of coping with the situations.

In college where I attended York College Of Pennsylvania I opened up. I got involved in Hillel, I was the Basketball Manager and joined Best Buddies. I would go to the games and parties with my roommates and friends. I still stay in touch with my college friends. It was a great experience!!! Over the course of many years still living with a disability; I had learned many coping strategies through going through many therapists. The coping strategies are to write down things, make a list on my phone and set reminders on my calendar. Also, do mediation, yoga, and deep breathing. That is why I have compassion for the work that I do today. I never thought I would be working with individuals with disabilities, but that is my calling. Today, I work as a teaching assistant at a special education school, work at the center for autism, recreation programs for two different townships and do community integration work. Also, I volunteer with the organization called Best Buddies, in the past coached Special Olympics. At times things are still difficult for me. The way it is still difficult for me is sometimes I put all my energy into one thing for example a company job and if it does not work out then I get upset at myself and them for not giving me a chance. Another example is with certain references to movies I do not understand. The last way is trying to have a relationship with somebody, by going out on dates and then get to like the person and they in the end do not like me. I feel I am making a difference in the world and people’s lives.

What is your favorite TV show character and why? My favorite TV show character is Jerry from Seinfeld show because he makes me laugh and is a great human being.