In fifth grade, I was diagnosed with several learning disabilities that — even as a young adult — continue to affect my visual processing abilities, my handwriting and my focus. Because of these challenges, I have always been a little slower in certain classes, which, before I understood my learning style, felt incredibly humiliating. I kept thinking, “what is wrong with me? Why can’t I learn like the other kids?”
So my diagnoses changed a lot for me. Once I was given the appropriate accommodations, I was able finally to demonstrate my knowledge in class because I now had the resources to succeed on the same level as my peers.
But every so often when I mention my (much-needed) accommodations, I received a comment that drives me insane: “oh you are so lucky you get extra time.”
If you have said this to someone this before, I don’t blame you. I understand how easy it is to think about how much better you would do on a test if you had an extra 30 minutes or could use a laptop. But it’s important to realize that because of my learning disability, I need an hour and a half in order to perform at the same level another person can in an hour. I study hard and I work to thoroughly learn the material in all of my classes. So I deserve the opportunity to be able to show that. Disability accommodations are not a gift or a cheating tactic that some people are lucky enough to talk their way into. They are the only opportunity I have to flourish in school the same way my peers can.
And there are times when I do feel lucky for having learning differences. I am gifted at thinking outside of the box. I am extra creative. I have an even bigger appreciation and understanding of my true strengths.
But accommodations are not something to be jealous of, because they were created to compensate for a disadvantage. And if I could choose to have perfect visual processing and not need accommodations, I certainly would.
So you’re not wrong — I am lucky in some ways — but not for an extra 30 minutes.