Coping with a Learning Disability (Difference):
The story of living with his
by Taylor V. Beattie.
"Thank you, Mr. Short".
End of the school year, second grade: It was sometime during the last week of
school, my second grade year. The teacher, Ms. Baugher, asked me to meet with
her in the back of the room. In a gentle, inviting tone she asked if I would like to
stay in second grade and help her with the incoming class. In my young mind, I
knew that I was not qualified to be her aide or teaching assistant. In fact, I was
pretty damn sure that I was not qualified to move onto the third grade…and that,
I realized was the bottom line of our conversation. I was going to be held back.
But she left me some wiggle room and seeing the seam in her proposal, I declined
the offer and returned to my desk.
That night my parents were more direct regarding my status for the following
year; there was no wiggle room. I liked Ms. Baugher and the notion of spending
another year with her was not all that bad. On the other hand, the
embarrassment of staying in second grade while my classmates moved on to
third would be exquisite. I comforted myself with the notion that I had the
summer to get used to the idea that I had flunked second grade, and summer, in
those years, was forever.
Something was interfering . . .
This was not the first signal that something was interfering with Taylor Beattie's
ability to learn. Three months into kindergarten at another local independent
school my parents were summoned for a terminal parent teacher conference. It
seems that I was struggling with my ABCs and with counting. The punch line was
that I was not a good match for that school and it was suggested that I be
withdrawn. A crushing blow to be sure. I seemed normal to my parents in every
way, emotionally, intellectually, but the teachers were seeing something different
in the classroom.
I was withdrawn immediately with a great deal of bitterness and prejudice toward
a school that offered little assistance short of showing a 5-year-old the door.
Opportunity presented itself in Wilmington Friends School, which took me in
immediately . My year in kindergarten ended, so far as I can remember, without
First grade, however, was a different story. The first words that I learned to
recognize vice read with any constancy were SEE ME! burned in red across the
top of my lacerated work sheet. My poor mother would cringe when she saw the
first grade teacher standing with me in car pool line, a plump, white knuckled, fist
full of the red inked casualties that were my handiwork. Somehow I survived first
grade. My performance in second grade, however, called for drastic measures,