What's It Like to Have a Learning Disability? Part II - An Alumna's Perspective
Teacher Debbie Elbert’s summer writing classes wrestled with that question – what is it like to have a learning disability? Some of their insightful comments were featured in the previous blog post. Debbie invited Springer Development Office Intern Grace Mancini to visit the classes and share her experiences with a learning disability. Grace is a Springer alumna who just completed an internship with Springer as part of her pursuit of a degree in marketing at the University of Cincinnati.
“Talking with these young people about my learning disability was an emotional thing for me,” said Grace. “It took me back to my school days before Springer, and I remembered all the overwhelming feelings I had when every day at school was a struggle.” Grace explained that she has learned strategies and habits that make managing life with a learning disability easier – a reality that has become her “new normal.”
“I appreciated the chance to talk with the students about learning disabilities,” Grace remarked, “but I wasn’t sure how it would go. I wondered how I would explain to the students that it will be okay. I knew they needed to really understand their learning disabilities, but how can you explain it to a kid who is nine years old?"
It was especially meaningful to Grace that she had this experience with Mrs. Elbert’s class. Grace first met Debbie when she attended Springer’s summer program, Adventures in Summer Learning. Debbie was Grace’s “go-to” teacher while she was attending Springer, and the two stay in touch today. “It was tough for me to trust any adult but my mother when I was young,” Grace remembered. Learning to trust Debbie, and then other teachers at Springer, led her to understand the importance of relationships and communication with teachers in school. “It’s a priority for me now, even in college,” Grace said. “I know that to be a good self-advocate, my relationships and communication with my professors are critical.”
As Grace’s Internship with Springer drew to a close, she remarked, “It has been very exciting to be here as an intern – to have Springer again play a role in my education.”
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.