Isabelle Fletcher wins the Learning Disabilities Association of New Brunswick’s first annual scholarship.
The Learning Disabilities Association of New Brunswick was pleased to offer its first annual scholarship for students with learning disabilities graduating from grade 12 and going to post-secondary and for students currently enrolled in post-secondary studies. Out of the 31 submissions, we are happy to share the winning submission.
Below you can find Isabelle’s essay submission describing her school experience with Dysgraphia and Dyscalculia.
“I was diagnosed with Dysgraphia and Dyscalculia in grade four at the age of nine. Before this diagnosis, I detested school. I would dread it every morning and would be overjoyed when I got to go home. Looking back, I now realize the reason for this is that I had no self-confidence in my learning abilities. I wish that no child must go through what I went through. Here is my story.
Even in kindergarten I understood that I was different. I did not learn the same way as my classmates. They would take pride in their writing pieces and I could not even decipher what I wrote for it had so many spelling mistakes. I had loads of fantastic ideas in my head, but I could not transfer them on paper. I was an admirable reader, I adored gym class, and I did terrific in music class. It was writing that made me hate school. When the class would separate into groups to work on writing skills, each group focusing on a specific aspect of writing, I was always put in the spelling group. This was indescribably frustrating to me. I would have loved to have been put in a group focusing on adding details or connections to your writing, or even using the proper grammar. Instead, I was always, without a doubt in the lessons about spelling. However, no matter how many times I would learn the lesson it would not stick. I would constantly end up sitting in front of a piece of paper hating myself for not being able to spell a word I should have known how to; or at least I thought I should have known how to. On top of frustration was embarrassment. I felt as if I was lightyears behind my classmates. They knew how to write marvelous stories and I did not even know how to spell simple words such as “down” or “pretty”. I was in dismay when I would think of my future. I could not imagine how I would live through ten more years of school. I wanted to be a teacher after high school, however I did not believe that I was smart enough to go to University. It was heartbreaking, and certainly not a feeling any child should have to go through.
In grade four, my parents decided to have me tested for a learning disability. After my diagnosis, I received a computer for my spelling. This was a colossal life changing moment. Finally, I could put all of the powerful ideas in my head down on paper. However, not all of my problems were solved immediately. I had never typed on a computer before, therefore my first writing piece was not exemplary, with half of it in caps lock. My parents downloaded a practice typing program on our computer and it helped me immensely. The other problem I encountered was my friends’ jealousy. They told me that they did not spell well either, thus they were going to ask the school if they could have a computer as well. I would try to explain that it was not just that I could not spell well, it was that I could not spell at all. It took some time, but eventually they understood and were happy for me that I had something to help. Some of my classmates were not as kind, saying that I was only faking my disability for attention. It was disheartening to hear this, and unfortunately it lasted for a couple of years. It never stopped hurting. Yet I did learn ways to cope. I would think to myself “the people saying these things are not my true friends. It is upsetting. Be that as it may, I now have the tools I need to be successful in life. If that makes people jealous, they will have to deal with that.” The best part about having a computer is that I began to love school. I would look forward to going every morning and still do now. English is now my favourite subject and I love writing essays.
I am a completely different person because of my learning disability and my diagnoses. Next year I am going to The University of New Brunswick to study Arts, with a double major in English and History. I hope that with my experience, I may be able to help students in the position I was in, and hopefully get them to love learning as much as I do now.