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You Can'T Know What It Means Unless You'Ve Been There

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Seventeen years ago, when I was still living in Lithuania in my native town, Kacergine, there was a camp for children with different learning disabilities. One day when I was playing outside in the yard, I saw a group of these children walking down the street and talking with the teachers. They must have been about the same age as I, but I could not understand what those kids were saying, because of their defected speech. Their faces looked sad and confused. I wanted to go and talk to them. I wanted to be their friend, but I was scared and hid behind the tree so that no one would see me. I remember feeling extreme sorrow for those poor children. Since that day, I have wanted to know how children with learning disabilities feel, what they are thinking, what they are looking for from life. After reading David Raymond's article, "On being 17, Bright, and Unable to Read," for the first time I am able to empathize with the experiences of people who have a learning disability.

I related to this story and to the author's feelings, because sometimes I experience symptoms like difficulty understanding tasks, difficulty reading, difficulty spelling, which are similar to dyslexia symptoms. The only difference is that it happens to me because I do not know English fluently, but I am able to learn it. It just takes time. Especially during the first year in the United States, I remember feeling "dumb," because I did not understand what people were saying to me. It is one of the worst feelings I have ever experienced. I truly understand how horrible David Raymond must have felt when he was growing up.

"It's impossible to tell how it feels when you can't read your homework assignments or the newspaper or menu in the restaurant or even notes from your own friends." This sentence made me understand how important reading is in my everyday life. Without reading, I could not function normally like I am able to now. Things that seem natural to me, reading newspapers, books, or even reading road signs, would be impossible.

This article made me realize that I was very lucky to be born healthy. I can read and write, but sometimes I do not appreciate what has been given to me. Here is someone like David Raymond, who wants to read and write, but he can't because of his disability. He has to survive all those mockeries and feelings of inferiority because of something that he can not control.

David Raymond's screaming, "I'm dumb Ð'-I wish I were dead," in the first years of school is a perfect example of harm that was done to the little



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