The Layers of My Childhood

The Layers of My Childhood

It was a long, painful journey to arrive at this acceptance, but I have accepted myself for who I am, and learned many different skills I didn’t know I possessed. 

When I was 6 years old I was diagnosed with a learning disability and Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). I had a severe speech problem, till this day I have difficulties pronouncing words. My teachers explained to me that I learned differently from others. 

I was the only kid in my class with a speech problem, I couldn’t pronounce words that seemed easy to others. I would get many words mixed up, which messed with my head when it came to spelling. 

It was a special kind of childhood, you know, being a kid with ADHD and a learning disability. It’s different for all of us, of course, since the disorder manifests itself in different ways. Some may be more hyper, some may be more absent-minded.

I was in between, I was antisocial growing up, but I could never stay seated for long. Till this day I can’t think while sitting, I feel the need to walk around as my way of thinking clearer. Teachers would get annoyed with me because If I sat down for too long I’d get anxious. It got easier as I got older and learned how to control it. 

I’m a lot more slow paced and I usually have to read questions out loud a few times to understand what it’s asking me to do. For a while I hated it, I was so good at school but once I was given a test I would fail no matter how hard I studied. Teachers at school couldn’t figure out why that was. They tested me every month, they did everything they could, not much changed. 

I was put in an IED program in elementary school all the way till high school. It was simple things, they would take me out of class and test my pronunciation on words, give me some tests to do on my own, and give me extra time for exams. 

I was put into a “read aloud” classroom for exams, where teachers would read the question out loud to me a few times. It was helpful in elementary and middle school, exams were a lot easier for me.

Once I got to high school things were different, I was put in a separate room with other students who were “like me” and we would get extra time. Though in the process of receiving all of this “special treatment,” I still failed my regents. I failed every test I took, my PSATs, SATs, quizzes.  I was great in school, my grades were fantastic, I could write a killer essay, and I was chosen to be a part of the Nationals Honors Society in my junior year. I was a true scholar. 

I could not score a 65 or higher on my regents to save my life though. My mother was confused, my principal didn’t understand how it was possible for me to be so intelligent but constantly failed my test. I cried about it over and over again. I was set on failing. No amount of good grades can save me from my low test scores. At one point I stopped trying, it was a waste of time, all I did was fail. How was I supposed to go to college on my own when I could barely get past high school?

After retaking each subject of the regents at least 10 times or more, I passed with a good enough grade to graduate. At this point I was exhausted and didn’t even care how low my scores were, I just wanted to graduate. Teachers would ask, “but don’t you want better? I expected better from you.” 

Well, you try retaking the same regents over and over again just to fail over and over again. I was tired of the same cycle, of course I wanted better, but better wasn’t for me at that time. 

While most of my classmates graduated with regents diplomas and advanced regents diplomas, I graduated with a IED diploma, which is given to students with disabilities. The passing score is a 55 or higher. 

I was honestly grateful, it’s still a diploma, still an achievement in my eyes. I was proud, my family was proud. Now I’m a senior in college, nobody thought I’d make it this far, but here I am. 

It’s still hard, trying to keep up. When I graduated I told myself I was going to do college on my own, I didn’t want extra time on exams or read aloud rooms, I wanted to see what I was capable of without the help of an adult. 

All my life I felt like a charity case, teachers and classmates felt bad for me, I never knew how to be on my own. 

They would always say, “Amber has potential” but it never felt like I did, it all felt pointless. 

Now I see my true potential, and I’m proud of how far I’ve come.