University Writing Center Blog

Posted on November 19th, 2019 in Consultant Spotlight, Difficult Conversations, Neurodiversity by University Writing Center

Written by: Lindsey T.

Google defines irony as “the expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.”

This is the perfect term to sum up my situation as a writer.

When I was young, I was diagnosed with a common mental disability you may have heard of: Asperger’s Autism, although it’s called Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) these days. To put it simply, my brain was wired different. What’s considered an easy task for neurotypical people may have given me the hardest struggles in life, and sometimes, if I’m lucky, vice versa could happen.

In the case of struggles, mine were with reading and writing. I just couldn’t fully grasp what a sentence, or even something as simple as a single word, could say. My parents worked tirelessly to make sure I understood it, and I was given extra time in school to finish my assignments after receiving the prognosis.

Most would think that educators would be understanding of that, but in actuality, back then if you had a mental disability there was no hope for you. As soon as that “mental disorder” label branded you, your fate was sealed. Educators tried convincing my parents to put me in a Special Education classroom instead. They once believed I would have trouble graduating high school, let alone go to college or even graduate school.

However, I pushed myself to do better for my parents and for my own sense of pride. Slowly, words on paper began to make more sense. In fact, I was improving so much that I was reading at a level higher than my classmates, and my overall writing process was making tremendous milestones, as well.

There’s a reason I started this off with the definition of irony. While my skills in reading and writing kept improving, my social skills still remained dormant. I didn’t feel comfortable sharing how I felt with others vocally, so as a substitute I began writing how I felt and showing it to them. Some of my teachers even said they got to know me more through my writing than whatever I said about myself. This eventually led me to pursue writing as a career, and so I majored in English in college. The exact thing that gave me so many tribulations as a child was now my passion and voice as an adult. Writing was my way of making sense in a world that my brain tended to muddle.

This is why I’m so adamant about my Writing Center project: to make the Writing Center more welcoming and accessible to those who have a disability like I do. We thankfully have a better understanding of mental disorders compared to years ago, but that doesn’t mean the degrading label is completely gone. I want people who are like me to know they’re not alone, and we’re willing to go the extra mile to understand them as much as they’ve gone the extra mile to improve themselves.