Picture of Mark
Mark M.
Age: 24
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Currently Residing: Chicago, Illinois
LD: Dyslexia, ADD

I had a fortunate childhood. My parents were supportive, not rich by any means, and were able to provide for my brother and I when we needed it. I grew up in a nice neighborhood in Dallas, Texas. I liked your normal boyish things, Star Wars, superheroes, etc.

I went to a public school nearby my house until 3rd grade. During the time I spent at this school, I could sense that things were going too fast. The teachers seemed to go very quickly through the material and it was difficult for me to keep up. I had the misfortune of attending 1st grade with a teacher who was not enthusiastic about helping students. This was a very reality shattering, world flipping experience. I thought all teachers would help. I kept on asking and asking for help. Being as young as I was, I suppose I took her lack of investment in my class as normal. I became confused as to why I was still having so much trouble in the class. At times, I hated school so much that I would make up doctor's appointments I had to go to and just walk out of class in the middle of day, causing panic among the faculty. They apparently didn't trust when I told them I had a Doctor's appointment, it meant I was actually going to leave school.

During the hardest portions of my 1st grade year, I was studying cursive writing. This was difficult to me not only because of the speed and lack of interest the teacher took in the material, but also how she taught it. I am right handed. I would sit at my desk facing the black board, and she would write each letter on the black board. - Okay that makes sense. She would then turn around and use the same hand (her right hand) to draw the letter in the air for us to see. These were two different shapes that somehow are the same letter. I effectively taught myself 52 letters of the alphabet and associated 2 with one letter just so I could understand which letter she was actually referring to when she turned around to face the class. I looked for any excuse for sympathy or relief. I even faked an eye exam hoping that glasses would help me.

After getting through 3rd grade, I went to a private school in the area. This was a large change for me. I realized this place was different. My teachers were incredibly supportive, class sizes were small (8-12 students), and questions were welcomed as a result of these class sizes. This school was designed for children with Learning Differences.  At the public school I attended, asking questions and participating in the way that was encouraged at Shelton would be unacceptable and yield no results. It took me some time to get used to how the structure of learning here worked.

I attended this school through my junior year of high school. I developed interests in constructive activities such as theater production, video production, drawing, Photoshop and graphic design, video game modeling, American Sign Language, and a few other things. But like any high school, there are the insecurities that come with growing up the way you grow up, liking the things you like, and having to interact with people that may not support these things.

I was never the popular kid in school. I had artistic talents that were appreciated and respected among all students at the school, but I was never the first person students would invite to their parties. I turned to recreational drug use. My parents sent me to a woods program after several confrontations regarding my drug abuse. I lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains for two months with five other teenagers like me, and two staff members. I learned a great deal about myself during this time. I had a new found confidence in myself.

Then, I attended a boarding school in Virginia. This was essentially a therapeutic college preparatory school. This experience helped me the most above all others. The school was small (only 100 students) and all faculty and staff were extremely supportive. My academics in relation to my learning differences were challenged during my time at this school. The teaching methods were again changed. I am proud to say that I worked harder here than any other school in my life. I had tremendous support. Academically, I was supported by a wonderful group of faculty. Among the subjects that really puzzled me were Math subjects and Chemistry. I had an incredibly hard time with learning Probability. While learning Probability, I was able to stay in the classroom with my teacher everyday after school to work on my homework. I appreciate his patience so much. This continued, unconditional faculty support also helped me get through minor scheduling issues when I was mistakenly signed up for Chemistry II after never taking Chemistry 1. I took on his challenge and I taught myself both in that period and passed the class with flying colors.

I was able to graduate in 18 months and then move on to attend The School of The Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) for four and a half years. I earned my Bachelor's of Fine Arts in interdisciplinary studies (painting, drawing, photography, animation, and sculpture). I am now working in the museum hoping to return to school for a Sign Language Interpreting degree.

I wouldn't change my story for any reason. I am proud to be LD and I am proud that I think differently than others.

Please get in contact with the site's admins if you like to ask.
I would be happy to discuss them with you. 
- Mark M.

Leave a Reply.