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Reading and Language

Home » Articles » Growing Up with a Learning Disability: A Child's Story »

Succeeding Against the Odds


In junior high and high school, I continued to get resource room help, but some things were still hard for me. Rote memorization was a struggle. For the life of me, I couldn't memorize a poem. In math, I could eventually do what everyone else could do, but it took longer for me to learn the process and to calculate the answers. And while I had a broad picture of what happened in history and understood why things happened, I could never remember when Lincoln was born or when he died. It was always the big ideas that I loved, and the details just seemed to slip away. At the same time, I sometimes took things too literally. I remember when I was getting confirmed. The auditorium was packed with 200 people. The archbishop said, "I'm so proud of you. Each one of you did community service. How did you find it?" I was the one to speak up. I said, "My mom drove." The whole room burst out laughing, and I laughed right along with them.

Though things weren't always easy for me, I never questioned whether or not I'd go to college. I always knew it was something that I would do. But once I got there, I was terrified. All I could think was, "How am I ever going to get through this? How will I ever succeed?" My mom was with me, helping me unpack. I tried to hide my feelings from her—but panic was written all over my face. "Let's go to lunch," she said. And once we got to the restaurant, she took out a piece of paper and a pen. "Ok, Marco," she said. "Let's make a list."

And together we made a list that included everything I needed to do: get a computer; get the books I needed for classes; make appointments, and more.

That night, after my mom got home, she called me. "So Marco, how are you doing?" she asked.

"I'm fine," I told her. "I have my list."

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