- I was diagnosed with a reading disorder and a learning disorder when I was in 3rd grade.
- I am currently a 5th year graduate student in a biomedical research program. When I graduate I will receive my PhD in microbiology and molecular virology.
- I first received accommodations when I was in elementary school. I still use the same accommodations today (in 21st grade)!
- I personally understand how hard it is to learn differently! But I believe with the appropriate accommodations and a lot of hard work we all can be successful!
I am me
I’m currently a 5th year graduate student in a biomedical research program. When I graduate I’ll receive my PhD in molecular virology and microbiology. I have a diagnosed reading disorder and a learning disorder. This blog is about being a PhD candidate with severe learning disabilities (LD).
I have been characterized as “Gifted LD.” What is that? I first heard the term from a psychologist testing me for learning disabilities. He used it to describe people with
dramatic differences in areas of intelligence, people that score in the top of the population in some areas of “intelligence” and in the bottom in others. Specifically, although learning new things and reading don’t come very easy to me, my disabilities haven’t stopped me from advancing my education and becoming the best person I can be. I hope my story gives people with disabilities hope and confidence to excel in a world that often looks down on them. Just because we learn differently doesn’t mean we’re stupid. It may take us a little longer, but we CAN succeed and we WILL.
Written expression is not my strong suit so forgive me for the poor wording, grammar and structure of this text. The main goal of this blog is for me to tell my story and hopefully give hope to all those kids and adults out there with learning disabilities. I was diagnosed with an unspecified reading (315) and learning disorders (315.9). I read between a 6th and 9th grade level and have a processing speed in the bottom 14 percentile of the population. Although I haven’t been officially diagnosed as ADHD, focusing on a specific task is very difficult due to my slower processing speed. Suffice it to say, reading, written expression, memorization and learning new things are very difficult for me. This makes science very frustrating. But these disabilities haven’t stopped me from becoming the best scientist-in-training that I can be.
I’ve been fortunate in my life and have received a lot of help along the way. My parents advocated for me all through elementary, middle and high school. My twin sister and older brother also supported me throughout all of my schooling. I saw a private tutor at least once a week from 1st grade through my freshman year of college. I actually saw the same tutor from 3rd grade through 12th grade! Because of my mom’s persistence in her fight to get me the help I needed, I was given accommodations since elementary school on through graduate school. The accommodations that I get are extended time on tests, the ability to take tests in a “decreased-distraction setting” and not filling out Scantron tests (the bubbles confuse me, so I am allowed to circle my answers directly on the test paper). I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for all of the positive influences in my life.
Since I grew up in an upper-middle-class privileged household I know that a lot of the help that I received may not be available for everyone. I hope that I can educate people on what worked really well for me (which may not work for everyone) and help increase awareness in parents and adults to notice signs of LDs and empower them to advocate for themselves and their children. But most importantly, I would love to help increase the self-esteem of people with these disabilities. I know the “I’m so STUPID!,” the “Everyone else is SO MUCH SMARTER THAN ME!” and “I CAN’T! I give up!” feelings all too well. But I truly believe with the right accommodations and a lot of hard work we all can overcome our own obstacles and excel.