Nick Wilford is hosting the Overcoming Adversity Bloghop today and the 5th in honor of his stepson Andrew. Andrew has cerebral palsy and, now that he’s reached 18, is going to go to Beaumont College in England instead of Motherwell College in his own Scotland. Beaumont promises to be a better fit for him, but it’s a bit of a headache for his parents, since he’ll be in another country, and it needs a lot of fundraising.
Participants will post about a time when they overcame adversity for something they believed in, or post a flash fiction on that theme. Afterwards, Nick will compile all of the entries into an anthology that’s going to be part of the fundraising efforts.
As I’ve alluded to in varying levels of detail in prior posts, I had some serious issues when I was a child. For all intents and purposes, my condition didn’t have a name when I was growing up. It had been named and studied several decades earlier, but for whatever reason, it fell into obscurity and didn’t come back into the public arena till the worst of my issues had resolved themselves. Today, I have a very mild form of this neurobiological condition, and can easily pass for “normal.”
But when I was a child, my problems were pretty bad. I was taken to a number of child psychologists, none of whom ever figured out what was “wrong” with me. I was kicked out of several schools before my parents finally found a kindergarten that would take me, provided they wrote a letter each year asking for renewed permission for me to attend this out-of-neighborhood school. I’m told that one psychologist thought I was Deaf, and at least one psychologist recommended my parents institutionalise me. The principal of my school (who died a year or so later) didn’t think I’d even graduate elementary school. I graduated sixth grade in 1992, high school in 1998, university in 2002, and am belatedly going back to school for a master’s degree. I sure proved all those people wrong!
Most of my teachers just washed their hands of me, which probably made my problems worse. Thank God, I had an awesome fourth grade teacher who knew she could reach me, with a little tough love, and encouraging and nurturing my gift for writing. Nowadays, I’m sure some of the techniques she used on problem students wouldn’t be allowed, but they worked. My condition didn’t have a name in those days, and teachers and psychologists didn’t have access to all the information and strategies that are easily available these days.
I was always a damn good student, and was always reading and writing. I had hyperlexia at age three, and the first book I read (in secret) was Grimm’s Fairy Tales, not a picture book. I was always several grade levels ahead in reading, and was reading adult novels pretty much full-time by age fourteen. My family didn’t have a lot of money for many years (parents were on welfare when I was born), but we always had books in the house. I was brought up to deeply value the written word, knowledge, and education.
I think I always knew I was going to go to university just like all the other kids, not realizing then that a university education isn’t universal. I never doubted I’d graduate elementary school either. I was barred from the Advanced and Talented track in upper elementary school because of my issues, in spite of outstanding scores on the qualifying tests, but I went on to take honors classes in junior high and high school. And someday I’ll earn a Ph.D.!
I credit my love of reading, writing, and education.