My story is a little different. As soon as I started nursery school I had a vague feeling that something was wrong. I didn't know that I had several learning disabilities. Prosopagnosia, also called face blindness, is an inability to recognize faces, and, in several cases including my own, facial expressions. So I couldn't recognize people unless I met them several times, or there was something about their hair or body that stood out, and I didn't know when people were annoyed or bored or angry. Central Auditory Processing Disorder, or C.A.P.D., rendered me incapable of hearing much of what was going on around me in the noisy school environment. Topographical Agnosia meant that I couldn't find my classrooms or my desk, even several weeks into a new semester. And Nonverbal Learning Disability kept me from succeeding at my schoolwork. So I was 'screwed', both socially and as a student. Because I had a high i.q., I got A's in some classes, but because of the learning disabilities I got D's and F's in others. By the time I got to junior high school it was obvious that something was very wrong, but nobody knew what it was.

Through all of my school years it was not uncommon for me to go through an entire day without speaking to or being spoken to by anyone. By high school I was being called 'retard' frequently. I was never beaten up. But I'm in my late thirties now and am just finding out what my problem was and getting over the guilt. I was told by many adults as a teenager that I was just lazy. And teachers would just stand by while kids yelled 'retard' at me. I would always skip lunch because I couldn't stand to sit at a huge table all by myself while kids made fun of me. In high school, kids with cars would run up over the curb as if they were going to hit me. I never went to a school dance, never dated, never attended a prom, never went to a party. I was voted least likely to suceed and least likely to get married in the yearbook.

I dropped out of high school in my fifth year when it became apparent that I was never going to graduate. The school guidance counselors were upset that I was dropping out because they claimed my parents and I had never even told them there was a problem.

Most of the education I've received after grade school I got from my school and local libraries. What I learned in junior high and high school was that I was stupid and that something was very wrong with me. One school counselor tried to convince my parents that I was crazy. I've spent the last twenty years of my life trying to prove how hard-working I am and concealing my learning disabilities at any cost. It is so liberating to know at last that my problems have names.

And they tend to run in families--now that I've 'come out of the closet', so to speak, I've found other family members with lesser versions of these same problems. My children are at risk. I'm homeschooling. My children won't be told they're stupid, and they'll get an education that will allow them to learn all that they are capable of learning. Maybe by the time they reach adulthood they'll still have the self-esteem that I've had to work so hard to get back.

And I've thrown away all the invitations to high school reunions. I'm surprised they even have the nerve to send them. I'm free now and the only time I revisit school is in my nightmares.

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