Dysgraphia has been a constant in my life. It is something that is a part of me and has impacted most parts of my life. Dysgraphia is a visual memory and physical disability that impacts the writing process and product. There is also a motor component, which simply means the muscles in my hands are extremely weak. As a result of this, I have a terrible tremor and shake pretty much twenty-four seven. Despite always having dysgraphia, I wasn’t aware of what it was until I was in third grade. Before then, my teachers had always implied that I was lazy or that if I just worked harder I could write or draw just like the other kids. But I never could. My artwork was never displayed on the hallways at school.
I was the kid who had a special pencil grip and the one who didn’t know how to spell her own name because I couldn’t remember what the letters looked like. At a young age, I had decided that I was stupid and was not smart enough to go past high school. It took me years of supportive teachers and professors, hard work, and self-acceptance to get to graduate school.
I don’t think I’ll ever be able to properly describe the terror or humiliation I feel when people say things like “exchange papers with someone,” “write on the board,” or “art project.” I do know that most days I’m okay with my life, but I have moments where I get frustrated when my hand shakes passing something to someone or when I can’t open a bottle of juice. But what this means for me is that being here at Ooligan has made me face my fears of telling people about my dysgraphia and ask for accommodations. Everyone here, students and professors, has been beyond respectful and understanding in terms that accommodations do not give me an edge but instead even the playing field.
Graduate school has made me face the slightly harsh realities and truths that come with having any learning disability. I have to work harder, concentrate more, and spend more time on an assignment than most students. It has also made me accept that despite this, I might get Bs where other students get As. And that is okay, and it does not mean that I’m a failure. I wrote this blog post not to whine about having a learning disability but to put it out there so others do not feel so alone. I’ve never felt comfortable talking about it because I never want to seem like I’m complaining about it. But I’m also starting to learn that asking for help is not the same thing as complaining.