“Having a learning disability is very hard and I don’t feel like ME. I always try, but I feel alone because no one else acts like I do.” ~ Vivian, age 8
Teacher Debbie Elbert conducted an interesting experiment in her writing classes at Springer’s summer program, Adventures in Summer Learning. She asked her students to answer the question, “What is it like to have a learning disability?” The classes attacked the assignment by first brainstorming about the question, “What is a learning disability?” Then Debbie told them not to worry about spelling or punctuation, but just to write about how they feel.
The students applied the strategies they had learned in the program – some used speech-to-text software, some dictated to a scribe, and others typed directly into their laptops. The students’ comments beautifully captured the feelings of disappointment, isolation and frustration experienced by students with learning disabilities.
What’s interesting about the students’ comments, some of which are reproduced below, is that of all 15 students, only Caleb wrote in the past tense. Caleb is the only student in these classes who attends Springer’s day school – he has been at Springer for one year. Success changes everything.
It is very hard to focus while doing stuff that we do. People think that I am not focusing when I am trying to focus. I am trying to do my best, but they think I am just doing random stuff because I don’t care. But I do. ~ Roman, age 9
I get carried away with my thinking if someone talks to me. ~ David, age 9
It’s very hard to read words – they’re jumbled. Trying to read makes me angry. Math is hard. I get numbers mixed up and I don’t know when I should add and when I should subtract. ~ Yana, age 9
Sometimes I get frustrated when I am reading. It is hard to read Big words. ~ Samuel, age 8
It takes courage. You feel like you are not smart. You feel left out. ~ Samantha, age 9
I feel left out because it takes me longer to do class work than others so I feel like I’m a weird person. People make fun of me because I got a bad grade on a test then they make fun of me but then I flip it around a make a joke out of it so they forget about what we were talking about. ~ Evan, age 12
I think of stuff faster than I can understand it and I can do it right but won’t get how I did it. ~ Justin, age 12
When I was at public school, I did feel like I was actually stupid for a long time and I thought I was alone, like the only kid with problems. I do not feel that way now I am at Springer. ~ Caleb, age 13
It makes me feel bad inside but I don’t show that it affects me. ~ Matthew, age 11
You feel so disappointed in yourself. ~ Xander, age 10
Blogger Mary Ann Mulcahey, PhD, shares her expertise in assessment and diagnosis of learning disabilities and ADHD, and the social/emotional adjustment to those issues. If you have questions, please contact Mary Ann at .