Growing up I always struggled in my academics. My strengths were the arts, theater, public speaking (taking out the mumbling) and that’s about it. The other academics were hard for me due to my undiagnosed ADHD and my learning disability. Going to school was a nightmare. I wanted to like school… Watching how my other siblings studied and got straight As felt unfair regarding what I was going through in school. I studied just as hard, more prolonged and still came out with grades that were NOT straight As. I didn’t get why it was so hard for me especially when I was working my buns off! I would easily get unmotivated and depressed over my situation by comparing myself to my siblings. It’s hard not to compare yourself when you have successful siblings like that. It felt like I was an embarrassment of the family.
I’ve had terrible teachers and excellent teachers. I can identify real quick who are the excellent teachers and the inadequate teachers especially because I was a needy student. Not that I wanted to be that way, unfortunately, I just needed a lot of extra academic help.
Honestly, I think the best approach to helping special needs students is to think like you’re teaching a student learning a second language. Especially with ADHD, the short attention span needs A LOT of visuals to process the details fully. So when a teacher is just speaking and gets irritated that a student didn’t listen to what they said, it is because the students’ genetics needs MORE visuals. Only lecturing DOES NOT work.
I changed schools A LOT. My mom noticed that most schools and teachers weren’t giving me the help I needed. It isn’t entirely their fault, and they honestly had no idea how to help me overcome my obstacles.
Teachers told my parents “She’s probably not going to graduate high school or go to college.” These teachers were at private schools! Just goes to show private schools have their issues. In my parents’ perspective, God only knows the emotions and worries they were going through to hear this about their child.
Besides dealing with my limited academic success in elementary school, my peers bullied me for being known as the “slow and stupid classmate.” Kids can be mean and do not know any better. Despite having these experiences, I have chosen to take the HIGH ROAD of forgiveness; there’s less traffic. I deserve to give myself a better life than to carry my heart full of resentment. Why do that to myself? It is not worth it, right?
So there I was as the lonely, frustrated little girl that wasn’t feeling like I was getting anywhere no matter how hard I tried. Every time I failed a test or didn’t get the grade close to what I had desired, I cried a lot. Some of you might be thinking, “Well that’s just part of life, isn’t it? You gotta accept failures and learn resilience.”
When high academic achievers surround you, it’s extremely easy to get depressed. Have you ever felt this way and how did you overcome these feelings?
My parents were worrying incessantly about my future, finally found me a private elementary school that focused on helping special needs students. Once I was there, the teachers helped me immensely, and I was getting good grades. The instructors and staff recognized me as a higher functioning student compared to some of my classmates. The day I graduated from there, my loving and supportive principal patted me on the back and said, “You’ve come a long way.”
Going into a regular, private high school was a constant fight of academic exhaustion. In that state, I had to pass five standardized tests, or I was not going to be able to graduate high school. I passed the writing, reading, and history, but not the science and math. My entire high school career consisted of studying, extracurricular activities and rigorously preparing for the math and science test. I passed the math exam during my sophomore year of high school, and then I was not successful in the science exam until the end of my junior year.
A massive sigh of RELIEF rushed upon me when I found out I achieved a passing score with all of those tests!
Despite not having straight As, I worked hard in high school which paid off on some level because I received scholarships and state grants that helped reduce my college tuition by half.
The first few years of my college career, I had to be put in some extra classes in essay writing and math to help with my academic performance. My college had a wonderful tutoring center that helped anybody who needed extra help which included students with accommodation. Most of the professors were devoted to improving the students succeed. It was a strict education, but their collaborative, discussion approach in class helped expand my mind.
Looking back, I remember the pivotal moments when my parents were driving me home from my high school and college graduation, I cried the entire way home from mental exhaustion because I previously thought I was not going to be able to get that far in life.
Did you ever encounter this type of situation and how did you feel during that time? Were you ever overcome with emotions overcoming these triumphs?