A version of this essay was originally published at AZ is Amazing.
So, this is one of two essays that I aced for American Literature. I got an A- although, I did all the work, a lot of people helped me get this A, let’s take a look.
Shortly after I was born, I was introduced to the world of words though Good Night Moon. I have a picture of my Dad reading it to me in the hospital 21 years ago, I know I am old. When I came home from the hospital, my parents continued to read to me before bed. I had a lot of books at home when I was growing up.
I went to a family support program at San Francisco State. They provided my tiny body with lots of stimulation so I would be as independent as possible. I had trouble talking so they taught me American Sign Language so I could communicate with the world. I was beginning to have control over my environment.
When I went to preschool my teachers taught me the ABC’s and how to use the computer. They continued to work on my speech and pretty soon I was talking in full sentences . I needed to understand how to use sentences in order to write them for the essay.
First year of inclusive education. The teachers helped me with the basics so I would be ready for kindergarten. All of this was done at a private non special needs school. This was private school inclusion.
I get to learn phonics and letters with fellow kindergartners. I also learn how to type. This was a typed essay.
Kept on learning no highlights here except that I got diagnosed with Nonverbal Learning Disorder in addition to Cerebral Palsy.
Writer’s workshop helped me learn how to organize thoughts in a way that formed paragraphs. Plus it was fun and I was able to put my active imagination to work.
My teacher forced (insisted) that I began doing my own homework independently. I also learned about spell check
Learned all about writing essays. Those classic five paragraph papers.
Started analyzing stories looking for themes and foreshadowing.
Learned how to integrate quotes, Leaned different ways to start a sentence
In college, I would learn about noun phrases appositives, critical thinking and analysis skills.
All these things helped me get an A in American Literature. All these people believed that I was capable of learning and gave me a chance to try. If any of these people had thought, “Hey, this girl is disabled and does not act right, she can not learn any of this”, then it would have been a lot harder on my current teacher to give me the skills so that I could be ready to learn, which would later lead to an A.
Most of my writing skills I learned alongside able bodied peers. If any of my teachers, OT, PT’s,ST’s, aides, etc. are reading this “thank you” for helping me learn alongside my peers. I know I was not the easiest student to teach but I got something out of it. Feel free to leave a comment, thanks! You guys are Amazing and have helped me realize my abilities.
AZ Chapman is a 21 year old that has CP, NLD and Anxiety. She currently attends community college, where she has been on the dean list, and lives at home. AZ hopes to be a special education teacher. She is currently working on the Youtube web series “Able to Go to College” in which she gives weekly updates about life as a disabled college student. You can visit her website azisamazing.blogspot.com. AZ is also a youth leader at I am norm.
(The author gave permission for this essay to be edited for publication.)