The Importance of Challenging Yourself Part B, by Eileen

By July 5, 2024 Eileen, NVLD Bloggers

In my previous piece, I wrote about how my IEP teams tried to guide me in a different direction as they believed my stated plans were unrealistic and would cause unnecessary stress. Regrettably, my experience doesn’t seem to be unusual which to me is very disappointing. Now I will continue with examples from my experience and demonstrate how an IEP team will not only support your choices but will also be very proud of you. Through your own determination and work ethic. they will see, that lowering the expectations isn’t always the right answer.

For example, I not only decided to continue in regents Biology as a freshman but also made it a goal to pass the Regents exam. This was a shock to my resource room and who felt it would cause unnecessary stress given the nature of my NVLD getting local credit (55-64) would have been fine. However true to myself, I wanted to go the extra step and spend extra time on Biology. This was especially true in June when I would spend two hours preparing after completing my regular assignments and once finals were over it was all Biology as the regents were a week later.  Yes, this sounds crazy but because my parents were a resource room teacher and school counselor they knew how to help me prepare for these tests properly. Sure enough, I passed the regents and everyone was proud of me.

Next, as I continued to take math past the graduation requirement  I learned through researching colleges with comprehensive learning disability support that the students who continued in all academic courses have a better chance for admission as not all who apply get accepted. Understandingly most found this to be unrealistic given the nature of my spatial and visual processing skill deficits, however, my parents and I knew it was necessary. Fortunately based on my past successes the school ended up trusting us. It turned out to be the right choice as my Math teacher highly valued student effort and her door was always open for extra help so I was able to earn decent grades.  In addition, my resource room teacher continued to be an incredible support to me and loved seeing how I connected with my math teacher even though math was a real challenge for me.

Next when I was applying to college many believed this was an unrealistic goal given the nature of my NVLD. Teachers already had many students like myself not make it and given my strong work ethic they didn’t want to see me fail too. However, for me, the difference was we were only looking at colleges with comprehensive learning disability support programs which produced at least a 90% graduation rate.  If I had been applying to SUNY Canton, which was where our district sent most students like myself, they would have been right about college not being a realistic goal with how they only offered the minimum level of support.  Thankfully as time went on everyone did see it was a well-thought-out plan and became incredibly supportive of it. I am proud to say through our research I did become a college graduate and everyone was so proud of this achievement.

Personally, I believe it was incredibly new for our school to have a student who had a high set of goals and was driven to achieve them as at the time our high school IEP team highly believed in lowering the expectations for students like myself. Having Comprehensive level English and History classes for just Learning Disabled students then is a great example of that. Consequently, I did completely understand why at first they couldn’t see the reasoning for my plans and goals as they were so used to seeing their students play things safe and overall be happy with it. It truly was an adjustment to support me effectively when I wanted to be challenged more and to take a few risks too. However, through my own determination and work ethic and always respecting my IEP team, everyone became an incredible support of each and every goal.

So please don’t be afraid to set similar goals and plans like mine. In the end, everyone will be very proud of your achievements and see your true ability. I know this well and though being a different type of student for my support team did bring some bumps at first, eventually everyone became incredibly proud of my success and was especially impressed that I always trusted myself and respected their feelings too. I truly feel the same thing would happen to you too as years later now my support team still is so very complimentary of my success and the decisions we made.


Eileen is a Project Social Ambassador and blogger for The NVLD Project. She loves helping others understand they can achieve their goals and dreams through hard work and dedication.

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