It is often said that doctors have messy handwriting. By that logic, as a senior in high school, I should have a medical school diploma. In all fairness though, I have something that most doctors don’t have: dysgraphia. At 17, my handwriting looks like the scribbles of a 3-year-old, which is not likely to change. For much of my education, I was given occupational therapy through my IEP in an attempt to improve my penmanship. Unfortunately, the results of this endeavor were mostly unsatisfactory, only managing to improve my handwriting to the point that I can often read what I write. However, if I were to attempt to submit a handwritten paper, the comment that I would most likely get from a teacher is, “I’m not deciphering hieroglyphics.”
Despite my handwriting ability, I have found success academically. The idea of special education is to find another way around the proverbial mountain when a student can’t go up it. My mountain to climb is handwriting, something that I simply don’t have the fine motor skills for. Thus, as an aspiring writer who can’t legibly write his name, I take great joy in the fact that there are many ways to put words on a page. I conquered my disability through the use of a computer and having scribes on tests. Some might call that defeatist, arguing that I am merely compensating for a problem instead of “fixing” it. I disagree.
We don’t live in a world where we must climb every mountain or handwrite every paper. We live in a world in which innovation triumphs over natural ability. In other words, five years from now, I’ll be finished with college and preparing for a job or graduate school. I won’t be lamenting the fact that most people can handwrite better than I can by holding a pencil between their toes. I’ll be continuing to find ways to overcome my disability, my supposed “Achilles’ Heel.” Some people cannot grasp mathematical concepts regardless of how hard they try; some people don’t have the physical build to play sports; some people are born with a stutter or other speech disability. Ultimately, success isn’t achieved by grumbling and hitting your head against a wall, desperately trying to do something that you are naturally bad at. It’s achieved by acknowledging your disabilities and moving forward to embrace your abilities.