window gazeMany students go through life feeling they aren’t “good enough”, that they are worth less than others. Not only is that a horrible feeling, it’s anti-productive. So accurate and apropos is the quote from The Sound of Music: “When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.” When one part of the body doesn’t work as it usually should, there is compensation somewhere else. While it’s comparatively easy to notice that a blind person’s senses of hearing, touch and smell are more attuned, it may not be so simple to find your own body’s or brain’s compensations. Here’s how:

Think back. Often, there will be something that others notice – a way that you stand out for the better. It’s been mentioned to you on and off over the years, but mostly thrown as an offhand comment. Do you have an extraordinary imagination? Great coping skills? An unusual knack for handling animals, relating to small children or helping the elderly? Chances are others have noticed, you just haven’t, or hadn’t.

Experience variety! See how you react to different sounds, speeds, instruments, foods, etc. Safely try as many different experiences you can. You will have a skill with which you’re more capable than most others you know.

What have you gained? Students with exceptionalities often have contact with all kinds of people that most of their peers don’t even meet. Is there a social group or class from which you benefit because of your special need? What about the medical staff and therapists with whom you come in contact? They can be really fascinating people, and you would never have met them, were you “just like everyone else”.

Reframe limitations! Most children with exceptionalities are truly exceptional. Does your ADD/ADHD result in boundless infectious energy? Honor that. Although the energy can be burdensome when it comes to studies, it is also inspiring when it comes to creativity and athletics. All strengths have their weaknesses and vice versa. Let’s think back to X-Men comics – their differences, not their sameness, made them superheroes and vulnerable at the same time. This is one way to reframe, you are like Storm or Wolverine.

In short, open your eyes and ears. Live! Make sure you give yourself a chance to see what you love and where you excel.

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