The “DIFFERENCE Is Not DEFICIT” Project
A New Community Vision for Special Education
Our schools are not built for a typical students. In fact, it seems we have specifically built systems that aim to pathologize and marginalize anyone outside the so called “norms.” So despite the work of civil rights activists, and fields like disability studies, many students with “invisible disabilities” find themselves lost in the chaos of schooling designed for a very specific type of learner.
These systems do not just make life hard for students or parents. Many educators, eager to help and understand their students’ differences, find themselves limited by the rigidity of the traditional special education system. But the truth is, change is possible and individual people, students, parents, therapists, advocates, and educators continue to fight to make necessary changes. The Difference is Not Deficit Project is a place to share the individual stories of these struggles so we can use them to improve the system from the inside out. Stories matter. Each of our failures, fights, and triumphs matter.
How did you feel? How did you fight? How did you fail? How did you overcome? Please share your unique story so we can learn from your experiences and work to build a more just system based on our shared struggles and our common goals.
Share as much or as little of your information as you like. All the fields are optional so you can submit your story completely anonymously if that’s your preference.
I have always felt misunderstood, isolated, and sometimes frustrated when it comes to my learning disability. A lot of people don’t realize how much it has affected me on a daily basis. Many of my classmates, professors, friends, and even family members don’t understand why I need extended time, why my processing speed is slower, or the struggles I have to face in school. But I am so grateful to have my therapists’ support and guidance throughout these years because without them I would not be where I am today. I learned that everyone is unique and has obstacles/challenges they have to overcome in life. I hope sharing my experience will get people to understand that everyone is going through something even though they look fine and to be more compassionate and patient to those around them.