I’m excited to share that I am now a member of NCLD’s Young Adult Leadership Council (the “YALC”). From July 23 to 25, I attended the YALC training in Washington, D.C. As a first-day icebreaker, we were asked to mention a positive aspect about having a LD.
This is one prompt that I’ve grappled with for so many years, even subconsciously, before I was diagnosed with NVLD. It’s important to acknowledge that everyone feels differently. I realized I’ve never taken the time to write in raw detail about what learning to see my LD “as a gift” truly means to me.
In the words of Ariana Grande, it’s “taught me love, taught me patience, taught me pain.” (I can’t believe I’m quoting Ari, but it fits so perfectly.) I’d be lying if I said I see my LD as a gift 100 percent of the time, because I still struggle, especially in a world where so many people don’t truly understand what it’s like to have a LD. When I was first diagnosed with NVLD, I had never heard of it before, and it took me years to understand myself.
Fast forward to this moment in time. I’ve mentioned how there are so many people I wouldn’t have met without my LD and how ultimately, my struggles have inspired my strengths. That’s the simplified version. I could turn 400 words into a dissertation. I’m now a Master of Social Work (MSW), and I started this journey because I wanted to help individuals with LDs. Through the LD-related challenges I’ve faced as a graduate school student, I realized how our system is broken in so many ways. At YALC training, we focused on ways to begin to fix the brokenness, including advocating to pass the RISE Act and funding the IDEA.
Ultimately, without my LD, I don’t know where I would be otherwise. Through it all, I have a passion for learning disabilities. I did my Professional Seminar project on how parents of children of all ages with learning disabilities can best support them. Lastly, there are people I’ve met along the way for whom I’m incredibly grateful. If you’re reading this, you know who you are. I wouldn’t be here without you.
There’s another quote that sums up my emotions: “Someone I loved once gave me a box of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.” In the darkness, having an LD doesn’t always feel like a gift. But, in the light, I remember who I am and how far I’ve come. I hope to help others with LDs find their way out of their own darkness.
Michaela most recently graduated with her MSW from Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. Prior to earning her Master's, she graduated from Manhattanville College with a Bachelor’s in Psychology, and from Landmark College with an Associate Degree in Liberal Studies. She also has a Master’s Certificate in Dyslexia Studies and Language-Based Learning Disabilities from Southern New Hampshire University. Currently, Michaela is a new member of NCLD's Young Adult Leadership Council, a Project Social Ambassador for the NVLD Project, and has blogged for Understood.org.
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