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LD: An Obstacle, Not a Limitation

Special needs stories-Special education stories

2012 Anne Ford Scholar Silvia Ortiz-Rosales describes herself as having a "thirst for knowledge and success." Once her dyslexia was identified in fourth grade, Silvia promised herself that she would not let LD hold her back from academic and personal success.

Silvia received her scholarship award at NCLD's 2012 Benefit. View video and photos from the event.


My teacher walked to the board and began to write down our assignment. Tonight it was simple: log into an account and register our names. When I got home, I hoped to make a good impression and register my name early. To my surprise red words came to the screen claiming the password I entered was incorrect. I tried several times and came to the conclusion that the teacher must have given the class the incorrect password.

As I approached her after class the next day, she seemed concerned. She asked me why I had failed to register and I told her it was because the password she had given us didn’t work. She checked my agenda, where I had written down all of my assignments, and she said to me “Silvia, the password on the board says m4kog, not w4kog. You shouldn’t be so careless.” I looked up at the board and noticed she was right.

It’s little things like that, which remind me I must take my time whenever I’m doing school work. When I was younger I found myself struggling in school. I was in the fourth grade when my teacher noticed that I wasn’t learning at the same speed as my peers. Taking tests was very difficult for me. Most of my time at school was spent trying to understand what the teacher was talking about. On average I spent twice as long on tests and quizzes than my peers. After meeting with my mother, my school decided to send me to a learning center to see if I had a learning disability. As it turns out, I am dyslexic and have auditory processing differences.

Of course as a fourth grader I didn’t understand, nor did I think it was important. However, as I got older, I began to realize that I had to work harder than my peers to understand the material. My mother began to blame my dyslexia and for a while I hopped on the bandwagon and thought I didn’t have to succeed in school. The more my family pushed the idea that my low grades were because of my dyslexia, the more I yearned to prove them wrong.

 

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One day I had enough. I began studying harder and working on different techniques to teach myself the materials I didn’t understand at school. I learned how simple tricks and searching the Internet for further background helped me remember things. I also realized that being accurate and correct is much more important than being the first one to finish. Thanks to the accommodations that were provided by my high school, St. Joseph Notre Dame, I was finally given the time I needed to finish all of my assignments, tests and quizzes with accuracy. After coming to terms with my learning disability I gained an amazing quality. I acquired the ability to keep trying, to adjust and learn despite my disability. I learned that the best way to overcome my dyslexia and auditory processing differences is to accept them and strive through them to show others I can compete with my peers. I also learned that there’s nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it. My focus has helped me exceed people’s expectations and show them that my learning disabilities will not hold me back.

I have become a driven individual and that makes me proud. Although I take multiple Advanced Placement classes and challenge myself with numerous extracurricular activities, I know college will present me with even more opportunities to be involved. There is nothing that excites me more than the thought of meeting new people and becoming an active member of a new community. I look forward to the coming years, even though I must continue to push myself. I will succeed. My thirst for knowledge and success fuels my passion for college. As a first generation college student who struggles with a learning disability I’m eager to prove to the world that dyslexia isn’t going to hold me back. I plan to continue my studies, fueled by my desire to prove dyslexia isn’t a limitation, it is merely an obstacle designed to keep you motivated. I know college will be difficult, but I embrace the new opportunities that college life will bring me.

I will be a student at California State University, East Bay when I graduate from high school. While in college I hope to study journalism. Writing is something I’ve always enjoyed doing. People have often challenged my writing and reading capability with comments such as “You’re dyslexic, you shouldn’t even be able to write. I thought dyslexics couldn’t read?” However, I’ve found that I’m quite good at both reading and writing. Although it takes me longer than most, I write and read for fun. Last year, to my surprise, I was awarded my school’s Certificate of Merit in English. In my free time I try to push myself to write in new and creative ways in order to further develop my skills. I read literature that challenges life themes and give my own interpretations of them simply because I love it. I constantly share on my blog the challenges of dyslexia as well as the struggles of everyday life.

I hope that pursuing a career in journalism will ultimately get my writing out to the general public. It would be a blessing if my writing became accessible to other students with learning disabilities, and would in turn inspire them to strive past their disability. I want people regardless of age to see me as a role model and advocate for those who are struggling with any learning disability. Although I have learning differences I continually reach for more, regardless of the challenges thrown my way.

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