I’ve had an Individual Education Plan (IEP) in school for as long as I can remember. Most of the Spec. Ed teachers who work(ed) with me were great and always helped me with my Learning Differences (LD). However, society tends to displace those with LD’s, PD’s, MD’s etc. away from everyone else, which causes a disconnect. There’s a common misconception of people who have LD’s and many of those misconceptions will be addressed later, but in the meantime, let’s talk about ‘The Shoebox Effect’.
I coined the term because I’ve always felt that society has shoved those who learn differently or in other words, have a learning disability in a shoebox. All the education system does, is create a hierarchy of intelligence in which, students who freely learn through standardized methods thrive in this continuum, while those with LD’s are at the bottom–trapped in a shoebox of little expectations and not enough help on self-advocacy, so much so, that some kids with LD’s graduate high school without any tools of self-advocacy and along with that, the lack of confidence to know that they are geniuses in their own right. I still feel like I’m trapped in this ‘shoebox’ and sometimes even feel limited by what I’m told limits me by the school system and other institutions that either make or break our perceived self-esteem. In fact, because of The Shoebox Effect, many with learning disabilities feel stuck. Sometimes I even feel like after high school, everyone will forget that I’m still Hard of Hearing, or that I still have trouble following direction and need help with memorization, among other things. I’m not saying there’s something wrong with me, I’m just saying that society leaves us hanging when we meet “age of majority”. And in society’s mind, when we meet age of majority we are just a number. Because of this, people feel ashamed of their LD. I feel that way sometimes too.
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