I remember starting school having no idea what was different about me along with being highly confused by the different services I received, as my friends were not going with me. As each elementary year passed, I started to have an idea about what was different about me. Later on things started to become even more confusing as social and academic demands were much higher. Socially, like all teenagers, my friends started to change, though with my disability I could not understand the rules of the game of adolescence. By that point, visual learning took place so it was clear I was starting to fall through the cracks. It seemed every day a teacher became frustrated with me though I was just overwhelmed and fatigued.
Eventually, High School began which by then I knew so well things were so different for me. “My friends” no longer wanted to associate with me because it was an embarrassment that I couldn’t open up my locker, had seizures, experienced outbursts and couldn’t tie my own shoes right for a teenager. My anxiety started to become out of control however, my counselor was amazing to me so that was a huge help. It was not until my senior year when my parents decided to take me to be evaluated as things were becoming worse for me and the outbursts I was experiencing were not me. After years of being highly confused, we finally learned I had a Non-Verbal Learning Disability too.
Life after high school started out amazing because both colleges I attended highly valued working with students with all types of disabilities. As a result, for the first time in years, I had a true group of friends who were similar to me in many ways and my self-esteem increased. The negative was I was at a disadvantage for internships as there were certain placements that were a challenge for me and I had to depend on rides due not being able to drive because of the disability.
Adulthood is where the challenges can be complicated, as often employees don’t understand the nature of your challenges. For example, they don’t often get you need verbal directions or direct answers so you can fully know what is going on. You also miss many social clues too. On the positive side, I still have great friends and they help me get through the many challenges I face.
My advice to those feeling discouraged by your disability would be to never give up. If someone offers to help you succeed, take it. Please be aware though to establish boundaries with this person as sometimes being “too supportive” can backfire as you may think they are always going be available 24-7 and of course, they cannot be. I wished I could say this has never happened to me but it has though I am beyond grateful my counselor had so much empathy and understanding to help me get through it and is still by my side today.
I have traveled extensively and been exposed to many life experiences. I am also a sports enthusiast and is particularly passionate about the New York Yankees and Syracuse Orange. Most Importantly I have a strong and sincere desire to want to help those with disabilities reach their full potential and understanding the level of perseverance needed to achieve success.Share your own story