Before I knew about my learning disability, I was afraid of going to school.
A couple of weeks ago one of my friends inspired me to come out and talk about my ADHD and learning disability. Before I kept my struggles to myself, because there are kids and teachers that judge too quickly. Some kids even bully. But my friend Callia told me about how she overcame some difficult times by writing the word courage on her arm to remind her to be strong. This is what inspired me to speak up about my learning disability.
Before I knew about my learning disability, I was afraid of going to school, because I didn’t want to get embarrassed when reading out loud or solving math problems at the board. I tried to hide it as much as I could. I believed that no matter how hard I tried, I wouldn’t be as good as the other kids in my class. Funnily enough, my grades were never that bad so my parents and teachers didn't really notice at the beginning.
I would get homework that was supposed to take me only 20 minutes but for me it took over two hours, especially math. I would just sit there not understanding anything. It was like I was stuck underneath a pile of rocks and couldn’t get out. It was especially hard when it came to reading out loud or copying from the board. For many students, it is probably the easiest thing to just copy something, but for me it isn’t. It is hard for me to focus on lines when I am reading and often I skip letters, words or even sentences. Some of my friends used to say that they could read a book in one day or a week. It took me many weeks or even months. That really frustrated me, especially because I LOVE books. I really love stories and telling stories.
I felt discouraged, embarrassed, different and left out because I always had to work harder than all my friends. It didn’t matter how hard I worked — it was never enough. At home, my parents were also starting to lose their patience and sometimes they didn’t believe me when I told them that I did study or read my homework. I would think to myself: "Why can’t I read a book that fast or do my homework that quickly? Why is it so hard for me to understand or remember things?” I was sad. I started not being able to sleep at night, getting anxious and having lots of attitude.
One day my teacher talked to my parents about how I was struggling with my writing, my grades were dropping and she noticed certain patterns in my behaviour. She told my parents that I should take an assessment. My parents listened to her. The test was actually a lot of fun and the people there were very nice. When I got the results, I was diagnosed with a learning disability and ADHD.
When I found out I was so relieved, because for all those years I really thought that there was something wrong with me and that I wasn’t smart. I felt like the rocks were taken off my back. The doctors explained to me that I had actually done well in the tests and that I was really smart and that my brain was just wired differently. They said that I would just have to find different ways of learning and that with time I would know exactly how.
I still have to work hard to get good grades and when I write stories for my blog I do three or four drafts but it’s worth the trouble. I LOVE writing. I love writing because I can express myself and write about my feelings and interests. I find it's easier to write about feelings and my thoughts than talking about it.
I write about my learning disability because I want to let everyone know that having a disability isn't a bad thing. The way I see it now is that I have a little friend living in my brain and its name is learning disability. Just like with my real friends there are good and bad days, but learning disability has taught me many good things, like not giving up and to work hard. It has made me more empathetic and stronger. I know now that it is OK to be different and to learn differently. Not so long ago I couldn’t write a complete paragraph and now I am writing this blog! Be kind to yourself, especially when you are having a rough time. It got better for me and I know it will get better for you too.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Angelina Tropper is an 11-year-old student from Canada who loves to sing, dance and play the piano. She is the founder of the youth group and charity TCGE (The Care Gift Elves), which helps students give back to the community and spread kindness.