The Importance of Taking Risks Part A , by Eileen

By February 14, 2024 NVLD Bloggers

Growing up while overcoming an NVLD, one of the things I noticed was that a large percentage of those with disabilities didn’t take as many risks involving decisions for inclusion in school and life outside of school. While the recommendations they were being offered were good, at times more could have taken place if both families and IEP teams stepped out of their comfort zone to try new methods and experiences. Taking great risks can lead to greater academic, personal, and social success as you see your true potential and often you can gain more respect from others. For example, after a few years, we decided I would share an aide rather than a 1:1 as each year I was making impressive gains. My resource room teacher thought we were doing this too soon however she respected my parent’s decision as they wanted to see what I could do independently. It was an excellent decision as the three students I shared an aide with were more dependent on the support so my teachers were able to see my true ability. In addition, my IEP team noticed a lot of social growth too as I was more active in group lessons and recess by not having an aide following me all day, As a result, everyone was impressed with my growth and saw the benefits of starting to downgrade levels of support after a few years of successful outcomes.

Also, when I was in 4th grade my elementary school no longer had a separate Adaptive Physical Education Teacher so my parents decided to switch me to consultation services which meant I couldn’t be pulled from my regular gym class and APE could be offered during a different period later for extra support. Understandingly my gym teacher was concerned that some classmates would laugh at me when we did activities like volleyball, which unfortunately she ended up being right about. However, I didn’t let it bother me and eventually, these classmates became very helpful and supportive of me and we even enjoyed some great laughs about my mistakes. If we didn’t take this risk these experiences wouldn’t have happened and in turn, others wouldn’t have been as accepting of my gross motor skills deficits.

Next, when I was starting high school I chose to take all regular-level courses while the rest of the students with disabilities similar to mine took the lowest level. As a result, this brought a lot of frustration. However, the school listened to us as they could see I wanted to challenge myself too and my parents were realistic that taking this coursework required a lot of hard work. I ended up being one of the four LD students who passed the Biology Regents and achieved good grades in English and History despite having an NVLD. The only negative outcome was Math though through great effort I passed but was required to drop down. However, I didn’t see this as a failure as I learned how serious my challenges in Math are. Therefore I know without taking these academic risks I wouldn’t have understood my strengths and weaknesses nearly as well.

Through experiencing successful outcomes I decided to continue in math and science courses in grade 11 rather than take a vocational program or lesser academic elective courses. At first, my school wasn’t supportive and a bit apprehensive but knowing I had a great work ethic they gave me a chance. Taking an extra math course, which was primarily a Geometry course, brought some very difficult moments for both my resource room teacher and myself given how my NVLD caused significant spatial and fine motor deficits. Through our hard work, I passed the course and the regents; everyone was so proud I chose to challenge myself. So, like in previous years, this decision brought its challenges but by working hard I overcame them and experienced tremendous success given the nature of my NVLD. For me, being successful in taking this risk tremendously increased my self-confidence and made me believe for some students playing things too safe can be a trigger for low self-esteem.

Now to end Part A. I hope you understand how important it is to take risks. The reality of playing it safe all the time prevents you from seeing your full potential and can lower your self-esteem. Not challenging yourself and getting too much support can have more of a negative effect than most realize. Yes, choosing to challenge yourself is never easy and can bring some nervousness but I greatly believe that through hard work and using all of your support you will be happier and more confident in all parts of school life.


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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