I was born with a complete unilateral cleft lip and palate. Being born with this congenital birth defect was the start of many challenges for me including fluctuating hearing loss. Lack of accurate hearing is a major impediment to successful language development and school performance.
I had almost no intelligible verbal speech and language at age three. Due to my fluctuating hearing loss and underdeveloped speech and language abilities, I was placed in an appropriate special education pre-school environment with lots of one to one attention and speech and language therapy.
I had progressed to within normal educational parameters and was able to be placed in regular half-day kindergarten. I continued to receive speech and language services during school hours and in the summer.
I started in a regular education first grade classroom with continued Speech and Language services. My unreliable hearing contributed to my feelings of being overwhelmed and completely lost.
The school district now recommended the "extraordinary services classroom" where they told my parents I would receive intensive assistance in order to catch up. What they failed to mention was this classroom was for students with severe emotional challenges. These were problems I did not have.
The turning point for my parents was when I was out of school for two weeks, due to surgery, and accomplished more learning in that two weeks of home-based one-to-one tutoring than I had during an entire school year. My parents secured the services of a private psychologist, who determined that I had learning disabilities ranging from mild to severe plus significant learning gaps from years of inappropriate placements.
Placement in regular education plus intensive one-to-one LD and speech and language services. These appropriate services allowed me to successfully fill in my learning gaps and make good progress.
Regular education classes with two LD resource tutorial periods per day. The academic support I received from the resource teacher, the strategies I learned to compensate for my LD, and the accommodations that I received are the main reasons I successfully graduated High School with a standard diploma.
Accommodations as needed. Usually, these accommodations did not extend beyond needing a note taker or someone to check in with about details of an assignment, extended time on tests, or perhaps using a word processor, etc.
As a means of accommodating my learning disabilities, I have integrated organizational skills and woven highly specific strategies into my daily living and work activities. I share these things with you, not to complain, but to illuminate how my background gives me insight into the challenges that struggling students face. It further gives me motivation and a perspective into what they need in order to succeed that folks who have not had these struggles may not realize. All children can succeed, but it is up to us as the adults to provide them with the services and supports they need and deserve.