The alarm clock sounds, waking you from your peaceful sleep. You wonder why the alarm went off so early. Then you realize this is the day to return to school after a summer that seemed to go by exceptionally fast.
You hear a knock at the door and a parent comes into your room to help you get dressed. Your thoughts race about the normal back-to-school things, but you also wonder if your peers will accept you this year and how your teachers will react.
This is a typical first day of school for a student who has a disability.
I was that student, the only one who had a significant disability in school. Although not all of my school experiences were bad, there are some things I wish I knew then that I know now. School is a temporary, but necessary, journey for someone who has a disability. The better educated you are, the easier time you’ll have as an adult. So, no matter what happens in school, try your absolute best to earn great grades and learn.
Not all teachers will welcome you with open arms into their classroom. Hopefully, nowadays, more teachers are open to and educated about students who have disabilities. But be prepared to encounter those who have no clue what to think when you enter the classroom and begin to act strangely. These are teachable moments for them, and you have the ability to teach them that students with disabilities are as capable as anyone else. If the teacher discriminates against you or treats you unfairly, please say something. You shouldn’t be treated unfairly based on something you cannot control.
If you need an attendant to go to classes with you, there are a few things to keep in mind. They are hired to help you succeed in school. But sometimes they can impede your social life. Communication is so important between you and your attendant, so you are on the same page. Feelings can be hurt easily when you are with somebody five days a week. But the ultimate goal is that you have a successful school experience not only academically, but also socially. Perhaps you don’t need an attendant for every class, so you can gain some independence.
Use your time wisely if you have study hall. I had my attendant assist me with my math homework because the higher level math can be complicated. I thought doing my homework with my attendant would be so much easier because she had some idea what I was talking about from attending class. Having a disability often requires planning ahead and figuring out who is better at helping with what needs to get done. I tried not to procrastinate on projects, because you never know what problems might arise and who would be available to help you.
Don’t be afraid to speak up if there might be a better way to do something. You know your disability and how to handle situations better than anyone. If you have a solution to a problem, say something. Or if you need to change something in your routine, do it.
We have only one opportunity as we pass through our younger school days, so try to make the best of it.
Note: Cerebral Palsy News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cerebral Palsy News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cerebral palsy.