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Becoming the Teacher I Needed as a Lonely Child With Learning Disabilities

“They tried to bury me, but they didn’t know that I was a seed.”

As a special education teacher for students with learning disabilities and developmental disorders, and as a neurodivergent individual myself, this quote defines my life.

I was formally diagnosed with nonverbal learning disorder (NVLD) at 23 years old. As a child and teen, I struggled in ways that most people cannot possibly comprehend.

When people think of learning disabilities, they often picture a child with dyslexia or dysgraphia who cannot read or write very well. They do not envision an intelligent and articulate child for whom tying shoes or making a paper fit into a folder is arduous at best.

Many of my teachers resented me. To them, I was arrogant, lazy and too

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I sat on the toilet backward, still trying to get it to stop running. I had just gotten through yelling at both of my children for not helping. Ashamed of my behavior, I looked at my kids and said, “I’m sorry for acting like a jerk and yelling at you.” My daughter looked at me and said, “Dad, it’s OK. It’s just the Parkinson’s talking.” I stopped and looked at her and said, “Don’t let me off that easy. This has nothing to do with Parkinson’s. I was just being a jerk.”
The morning after I killed myself, I walked the dog. I watched the way her tail twitched when a bird flew by or how her pace quickened at the sight of a cat.

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