Transformations Magazine January 2014 - page 8

(MS):
I am a person with dyslexia
and I have some profound reading
and writing difficulties. At the
same time, especially as a young
person, not only was I on one
end of the spectrum in the special
education classes, I was also in
the gifted and talented program.
So I was on both sides of the
spectrum, which is actually fairly
common for individuals with
learning disabilities because they
tend to have a higher than average
IQ level. One of the definitions
[for a learning disability] is that
there is statistical discrepancy
between an individual’s aptitude
and his or her achievement level.
So I was “that kid.” The smartest
kid in the class may be teased and
bullied, but that is also true of
the slowest child in the class. So I
was hit with a double whammy. I
remember a time when my third
or fourth-grade special education
teacher was trying to help us get
organized. She bought each of us
“Trapper Keepers” with school
funding. Trapper Keepers were the
coolest things for kids to have in
the 1980s. Unfortunately, because
it was the state purchasing
these items, we didn’t get the
Transformer, or GI Joe, or sports
player Trapper Keepers. These
were bland, yellow Trapper
Keepers. We were supposed to
have our materials checked by
our teacher to make sure we had
the materials organized. Since
everyone in the resource room had
the same, bland Trapper Keeper,
the bullies of the school knew
which kids to pick on.
DR:
So they singled you out.
MS:
So mysteriously, my yellow
Trapper Keeper tended to get
lost. It was thrown under the
bushes. Then, in addition to
having a learning disability in the
classroom, I became a disciplinary
problem.
“It took a long time
for me to be
comfortable showing
a professor the
accommodations
letter, or disclosing
to a professor, a
stranger, or a best
friend, because...
it takes me back to
the childhood trauma.”
DR:
You’re non-compliant?
MS:
I’m non-compliant. Mom
and dad are upset because I
don’t have my Trapper Keeper
and I’m getting notes sent home
that I’m not compliant with the
organizational standards. It was
just tough. And you can see from
that example, taking a larger
view, you do have disciplinary
or behavioral problems tied in
with young people with learning
disabilities. I think the latest
statistic I read said that 75% of
people who are incarcerated have
some type of learning disability. I
wonder if that is an environmental
issue found in the K-12 system?
When I moved to junior high I
made a conscious decision not to
use any of the available support
systems.
DR:
That is a huge step for a
person who is twelve or thirteen
years old. How did that work?
MS:
I made Cs instead of As.
Luckily this was the age of
the emergence of the personal
computer. Although my parents
were of limited means, they did
buy for me a color laptop which
was unheard of back then. So
when I could, I would type. When
your issue is with handwriting
and the physical process of getting
the ideas from your head to the
hand and onto the paper, then
the computer will solve that
problem. Or it will at least mask
that problem. So I was able to turn
in papers that way. If I had been
born several generations before, I
don’t know if I would have earned
a masters degree.
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