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Like a Good Harvest: My Life with Learning Disabilities

what-is-dysgraphia-hand-drawingLife has its ups and downs, but I have learned it is a lot like farming, and weather is a lot like learning disabilities (LD). Just as no one can change the weather, I can’t change my LD. But I have learned how to compensate.

Ever since I can remember, school has been so difficult. I enjoyed school, but didn’t understand why I would study so hard and do so poorly on my schoolwork. I can remember my third grade teacher, Mrs. P, wanting so much to help me. She felt so bad for me, and shared with my parents that it was going to be a challenge to pass the state reading test. I could only read at a beginning second grade level, and my grammar skills were even worse. Mrs. P was so dedicated. We worked together before and after school for months, just as a farmer does during the planting season. It was hard, but like a good harvest, I passed that state test.

The next couple of years were frustrating. What was the matter with me? I would study and study, then do poorly on my school work and tests. I reached a point where I just wanted to give up. It wasn’t worth it. During that same time, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and our lives changed forever. I was so frustrated. How could life be so unfair?


Cole Little, a 2012 Honorable Mention for the Allegra Ford Scholarship, has a passion for agriculture and describes his LD journey as a lot like farming: although he can't change his LD (just like farmers can't change bad weather), he has to learn how to compensate for his weaknesses and make the most of his strengths.

My mom didn't give up battling cancer. No matter how challenging it was emotionally, physically, and financially, we were going to see it through as a family. And my family was not going to let me give up on myself. My mom, herself a teacher has always said "If it is necessary, it is possible."

That is when my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Tufts, began to fill me with the hope I needed to keep trying. She told me on the first day of class that this year was going to be a year of transition. The first thing she taught us was that in 15 years, no one was going to ask me what I made on the science test or what grades were on my report card. In 15 years, they would look at what kind of person I became and how I helped my neighbors and the community.

Mrs. Tufts was the first to suspect that I might have LD, and helped my family begin the process for testing. While she and my parents were relieved that the evaluation could uncover some new opportunities for me, I thought it was the last thing I wanted to do. Just dig me a hole and bury me in it. The last thing I wanted was to be teased about being in Special Ed.

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