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How I Found Out

Saginaw, Michigan, US

My name is Michael. I’m eighteen, and this is how I found out about my disability. When I was young, I had a hard time in school. I didn’t make it through my first grade year and my parents held me back. I didn’t really understand why, but it had to be done. Being held back allowed me to understand what I didn’t know before.

In third grade, I had a lot of trouble in my class; other kids were learning faster than me, they were learning how to read, spell and do certain math problems. I felt left out and I didn’t know anything. My teacher noticed and she had a talk with me and then called my parents. I found out a few days later when I had a meeting with some of the people at school. I didn’t know what the meeting was about at first until they told me. I started to cry that day because I thought I did something wrong and I was going to get held back again. Then we talked, I had to take some tests, I was sent out of the room for a while, and when they called me back into the room they told me everything that was going on. Then we signed the papers and I was officially diagnosed with a learning disability (SLD). I knew I had a problem, I just didn’t know what it was called.

I started going part-time to my regular education class and part-time to my new special education class. It was good; they started to teach me at my own pace and I was finally learning things, however, not as fast as the other kids. I was only nine when I found this out. When I went to middle school, I was embarrassed and ashamed because I heard other kids talking about the special education students. Other students would say that they were dumb and didn’t know anything. I wanted to get out of my special education classes. In high school I was taken out of some of these classes. That was probably the worst decision I had ever made. When I got to my regular education classes my freshman year, I had so much trouble. I asked for help, I couldn’t learn the material, I was stressing out, and I didn’t know what to do anymore. So, I gave up and failed some of my classes.

I talked to a few teachers and my caseload teacher got me back into some of my special education classes. I was glad to be back and I started to learn again. Then I thought to myself, “Are people going to make fun of me?” Then I realized that there was nothing to be ashamed of. I have a disability. I’ll always have it, it’s not like I can change that. I was born with it. I may not learn as fast as other students but time and hard work can do a lot for a person. Plus, I have all the support from my friends and teachers.

I am still in special education to this day and I’m glad that I am. Otherwise, I would probably be failing and may have dropped out. It’s been nine years since I was diagnosed with my disability and I’m still in school and still learning at a slow pace. But, that’s OK, that’s who I am. Everyone learns at a different pace but does it really make a difference? I think not. There is nothing for me to be ashamed of.

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