Learning Disabilities

Zoe Reck, Print Managing Editor

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Dear Friends Faculty,

Thank you. One of my main concerns about coming back to Friends was the lack of support I received when I was diagnosed with my learning disability. Back in 2003 when I was in the class of 2018 at our pre-primary I seriously struggled academically; and once I left Friends I had no intentions of coming back. The diagnoses of my disability was greeted with a “that’s your problem,” kind of attitude. When I came back ten years later the attitude was nowhere to be seen. The enormous transformation is one I am very grateful for. We now have a learning center whose purpose is to help all struggling students, but with an emphasis on those who are already disadvantaged. I have never been denied an accommodation in my three years back. I see teachers going out of their way to make sure I feel comfortable in the class; some even stop to talk to me in the beginning of the year when my name appears on one of their list. Around exam time I’ve always been greeted with a “what can we do to help you,” and “which accommodations do you want?” attitude. I cannot stress enough how amazing our faculty is when it comes to learning disabilities at Friends.

Dear High School,

You were not made for people like me. Although there is a system put in place to assist children with learning disabilities there are a few enormous flaws. No matter how fantastically patient my teachers are,  my assignments take me longer than everyone else to finish. I may get extra time on my tests but do I get extra hours in the day to finish my homework? How can I be expected to compete with kids who need a fraction of the time to complete an assignment thoroughly and impressively, when it takes me much longer?


Dear Friends School Students,

There is a reason I get accommodations and you don’t. I do not mean to be aggressive, and I know that you would have no reason to understand this, but some benefit of the doubt would really be nice. The reasons some kids get a computer while you have to write is that they can type in an hour what you can handwrite in that time, their handwriting is truly illegible, or that it takes them longer to think of what they want to write and they need the computer to use the little time they have left to write after they think about what they are going to say. Honestly, whatever the reason, it’s embarrassing for some students to explain, so just go with it. The thing about accommodations is they are evening out the playing field, not giving us an advantage. What you can do without a calculator, I need one for. What you can do in an hour, I need an hour and a half to do. Accommodations exist so that someone with a learning disability can be given the chance to perform like someone without one. So this exam season please avoid the semi annual complaints lodged in the direction of people who are just trying to get through it the best they can.

Dear Friends Remedial Math “Tracking”

I don’t understand you. The thing about having multi-level classes is that they should cater to an array of abilities. Taking a course a year later than the rest of your grade does not make it any easier. The course is not suddenly aimed at kids who struggle in the subject, the material is not taught at a slower pace, and the expectations for performance are not any lower, it is truly the exact same course taken at a later date. I’m really not trying to attack you, but I can’t say I understand you either.

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Learning Disabilities