I’m not disabled, I’m DIFFERENT

by Yousra El Amiri

Are we limited because of what we do not have, or can we be limitless because of what we have? Too often do people limit themselves because they fear criticism. They fear being labeled as ‘disabled’. 

I’m not disabled, I’m DIFFERENT

Looking back at my own education, I remember realizing that I wasn’t as normal as the other kids in my classroom. I remember feeling absolutely appalled by the fact that my peers were quick-witted while I was slow on the uptake. For years, I did my best to hide how much I struggled. Tasks that most students wouldn’t even bat an eyelash at used to make me anxious and panicky. I would try to hide in the back of the class, hoping desperately that the teacher wouldn’t call on me because I knew I would look blankly at him if he asked me to retell the story.  What the teacher said or wrote on the board made no sense to me. It was as if the words were faceless, nothing identifiable. I was always told that I was an underachiever, unable to achieve academically. But I was also told to never let anyone define who I am and sculpt me. 

Understanding myself as a learner

Very soon I became aware of my problem. My parents took me to a child psychiatrist to find out why I was struggling at school. Tests showed that I was of ‘average’ intelligence, scoring ‘high’ on non-verbal tasks, but ‘low’ on auditory tasks, and that I was a visual learner. Once I fully understood myself, I became aware of my strengths, weaknesses, needs, interests and preferences. I EVOLVED. 

A DIFFERENT way of thinking, not a disability, and not a disadvantage

We need to impress this definition into our minds. We are not dumb and we’re in any less of a person because of our struggles. Many call us disabled. Disability means simply the inability to do something. We do have the ability to read, write, and learn. We just do it DIFFERENTLY. People care how the cookies taste, not how long it took us to make them.

Embrace that difference

Like most of you, I have been teased, labeled, scrutinized, excluded and misunderstood, but I have come to a full acceptance and understanding of Who I Am through accepting my differences. We’re all different in our own ways. Don’t be ashamed to reflect on your difference. You’re exactly who you were meant to be. Just be you. Be you loudly. Be you fiercely. Be you beautifully. And always remember that we need to first be limited in order to become limitless. 

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