When I was little, before I knew I had a learning disability, I would avoid doing my tasks if I didn’t understand them. Spelling and reading made little sense to me. Nobody knew I was left handed until I entered school; holding the pen in my right hand, I reversed my letters. “Try the left hand,” said a special education teacher that happened to be in the room with me.
Then I was put in special education. Being put in a separate room without my friends didn’t help at all. I felt different from everybody else. I just felt embarrassed, but others students were bullied or made to feel stupid. I was quiet and shy. I never wanted to write on the board or speak in front of the class. When a teacher made me, I wanted to crawl in a hole and die. I could not learn this way. But what did help me was being in a classroom with everyone else. I learn much better when I’m not rushed in a peaceful classroom setting. By having an assistant teacher I could get my question answer and learn at my own pace. The assistant was also available after class to explain the material in more detail.
I credit my mother for being my advocate. She made sure I wasn’t labeled. She always told me to do my best and to prove those wrong who said I couldn’t learn. My advice to tutors is be as supportive as my mother and never let your students give up. And students should follow my motto: “don’t let a label make you, who you are!”
Ashley Sauer, The Literacy Center Student of the Year 2013