In 1984, at the end of second grade at the America School in Japan(ASIJ), my parents were told I couldn't return to school because of my behavioral and learning difficulties. By 1995 my parents would read in the Stamford Advocate that I was a commended National Merit scholar. In fourth grade I could barely read; today I am an honor's student at Stamford High School. This journey, though not always easy for me and my family, has taught me the value of persistence, the importance of being organized, the benefits of aiming high and the knowledge that it is okay to ask for and accept help.
My journey from first-grade recidivist to honors senior began when I first started school. "Could you please read this to me?" my second first-grade teacher asked. I was always confused why the teachers asked me to read my writing. Later on though, I understood.
Over time, with testing, my teachers, parent and I learned that I have a learning disability. My writing was mirrored and spelled phonetically and incomprehensible to most people. At first I couldn't read what other people wrote because it wasn't mirrored. I felt like a stranger in a foreign land.
At ASIJ I would only open picture books. I was afraid to read books with text. I never read for pleasure. The idea made me feel physically sick. My struggle with reading continued until 1988. By then we had left Japan and I was attending Greenwich Catholic. That year, my favorite uncle, Ray, gave me The Hobbit to read. Because he was my favorite uncle, I immediately asked our babysitter to read for me. Bit by bit she read it to me and to my surprise I became more and more interested in it. I started to read on my own. It was hard but I really wanted to read it. I started spending more time reading. Now, I read as much as possible. I love to read all kinds of science, science fiction and fantasy.
I have come so far in language arts skills that I have earned A's for all four years in my high school English courses.
Sometimes I help others with their work. I am now able to do all this because of hard work, persistence and dedication. I still have small problems from my learning disability (writing this paper was especially hard), but I try to fight them every time and always succeed. One shouldn't merely settle for success: that is like settling for survival. One should try to excel in all one does.
Writing papers is still one of the harder tasks for someone like me with a learning disability. However, if one persists with something and keeps on trying, even a weakness can be overcome. Applying this strategy to other areas can turn mere survival into excellence. -
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.