- Posted on: Dec 2 2016
To whom it may concern:
I am writing to you on behalf of those who are silently suffering the painful and embarrassing shame of hidden disability. I have lived with this disability, unbeknownst to me, for almost forty years. I am hopeful that if I share this personal information about myself, that maybe you will do whatever is in your power to help others who are currently misdiagnosed and labeled.
The disability that I am referring to is poor visual skills. Although I had 20/20 sight, I was unable to take the visual information and make proper sense of it. Reading was painfully slow and comprehension was low because I could not track information on a page. I continually lost my place while reading, and by the time I finished the paragraph, I had forgotten what I had read. My visual memory was ranked in the one percentile, ninety nine people out of one hundred would have scored higher in this area than I did.
If I had spent thirty hours in vision therapy as a child, I would have avoided these comments from my teachers:
Mrs. Taylor, 2nd grade teacher, “often falls below work-level requirements” in the following areas: reads with understanding, expresses creative ideas both oral and written and solving problems by reasoning.
Mr. Coffin, 3rd grade teacher stated “Help Tammi develop good work habits and work hard enough to complete her work.”
Mrs. Dorman, 4th grade teacher indicates weakness in ability to express ideas clearly, and learning essential facts of history and geography.
Mr. Burrough, 7th grade teacher remarked that Tammi is “capable – but does not produce.”
L. Ancine, 8th grade, “shows a lot of effort.”
E.A.F., 8th grade, “hard worker,”
Mr. Lipetski, 9th grade, marked outstanding in effort yet “can do better.”
Notice the contradictions? Below average, capable. Needs to work hard, hard worker. Shows a lot of effort, doesn’t produce. As a child, into my adult life and throughout college, I noticed that I had to work four times as hard as my peers to achieve less than average scores. I used to think that I was on the lower side of average when it came to intelligence, but I was determined to work hard to make up for the difference. My dad used to say it’s not your IQ that counts, but your “Do Q”. My “Do Q” had to compensate for my disability. Most children do not have that kind of resolve and choose to take the path of least resistance. A path that isolates them from their peers (appearance of stupidity), their parents (poor grades, leading to poor choices), directing them to escape in drugs.
We cannot expect our children or society to succeed if we do not give them the proper tools. Feed the hungry and they will be hungry again. Isn’t it time to try a new approach to an age old problem of delinquency, poor test scores, and misdiagnosis. Try vision therapy, train the hungry to farm, it’s worth it. You can’t imagine the complete frustration of not being able to visualize/see something visually, compared to the joy that occurs when you grasp something on the first time. To be able to perceive the beauty of depth perception, where it once was limited. To read and comprehend. It’s like a light switch is turned on.
When people held the view that our world was flat, it didn’t hurt anyone; but when people disregard information that could potentially change a life, it hurts them and our society. I hope that more generations will not needlessly suffer due to perpetuated ignorance.
You have in your hands new information. What will your response be to it? I sincerely hope that you will do the right thing.
In sincere concern,