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Unlocking My Full Potential

special-needs-stories-group-of-students-standing-in-hallwaySome people fear heights, other people fear snakes, but what I fear is writing essays. I find nothing more daunting than a blank sheet of paper waiting for me to divulge my thoughts and feelings that do not want to come. My head is streaming with thoughts, but my hand fights the transfer of my own ideas to the blank sheet of paper. I look at my hand and ask, “Why, why does writing have to be such an arduous ordeal? Why do you prohibit my thoughts from gushing out of my head and onto a simple sheet of paper? Why am I destined to agonize over a task that others find so effortless?” “I do not know why,” I tell myself, “but I am who I am, and I accept that.”

My frustrations with my learning disability in written expression reach back to some of my first recollections as a child. Some of my first memories of kindergarten are not happy, but they are important for me to understand who I am. As I look back, I see myself sitting in a small chair frantically trying to finish my writing assignment. My teacher blows her whistle. I have missed playground time once again. I choke back tears of disappointment because I did not wish the other kids to see my frustration. Unable to understand why writing and spelling tests were so difficult for me, I tried harder and attempted to memorize whole words long before a spelling test, but with little success. I repeated kindergarten the next year. 

2007 Anne Ford Scholar Ryan Makinson was identified with an LD in third grade that explained his fear of writing essays. His story reflects his determination to reach his full potential.

So, three years later when I was diagnosed with a severe learning disability and AD/HD, I was not surprised; the diagnosis merely put into words what I had observed and experienced over the past years. Despite numerous attempts to ease the difficulties I encountered in written expression, including Special Education classes, reading programs, and tutoring, writing came agonizingly slow. 

In the eighth grade, additional testing revealed fascinating insight into how my brain functioned. I was currently in the 98th percentile for visual memory, but only in the 6th percentile for decoding words. Every word I knew how to spell came from my visual memory. Given these results, my parents decided to enroll me in the Wilson Reading program which was designed to instruct decoding words and the rules of spelling. After two years of didactic instruction, I had made considerable progress, but writing still came tediously slow, so I sought different means of coping with my learning disability.

Five years later, writing was still hindering my progress in English, but now I had turned to my ingenuity to discover novel ways of dealing with my learning disability. I was intelligent, cunning, and resourceful. I developed my strengths to their full potential. Dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion in pursuit of my goals was the price of success I paid in high school. I realized I was not born with spectacular abilities, but the choices that I have made to use my abilities to reach my full potential have set me apart from others. The key to unlocking my potential did not stem merely though strength or intelligence, but from continuous effort. 

I am proud to say that I have made straight A’s so far in my high school career. I am currently ranked 3rd in my class with a weighted GPA of 4.81, but my success in high school was bought through countless long nights of studying, copious amounts of review, continuously going the extra mile in pursuit of my goals, and always striving to do my best in whatever I set my mind to. I have not always been the smartest kid in class, but I can say I have consistently been the most dedicated and hardest working kid in the class. 

Starting with my AP English 11 class, I have begun to conquer my fear of writing. Through copious quantities of writing, I have painstakingly strived to enhance my writing skills. I may never fully become a prolific writer, but I am resolved to become an excellent writer some day. I am resolute to not allow my learning disability to compromise my success in anything I do. 

I do not define myself based on my learning disability. My learning disability to me has only been one obstacle that has sculptured the person I am today. I am proud to say that my greatest accomplishment has been to serve my community. There is no greater gift than in the act of giving. For as long as I can remember, service to others has constituted the foundation of my personality. Throughout the years, I have strived to serve others through my church, school, and scouts.

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Tags: grade9-12, ensure-success