If I have one education-related regret, it’s this:

When I took foreign language classes in college, I didn’t know auditory processing disorder existed.

I chose to take a (300-level) class that focused on speaking and listening. To challenge myself. I knew it would be hard for me and I wanted to shore up that area of my skills.

One of the class participation requirements was that you spend a certain number of meals (I think it was twelve?) sitting at a table in the cafeteria staffed by a student employee and chatting exclusively in the language you were studying.

I think I went three or four times, and then I accepted that I couldn’t handle it and I wasn’t going to get those points.

Because I didn’t know, I didn’t understand, I didn’t have the concept that I legitimately have more trouble with background noise than most people. I didn’t have the words to say “I understand Spanish, I just can’t hear you.” I didn’t have the words to say “I can hear, but not with a hundred other people talking in the same room.”

I almost had the words to say “I speak just as little in the cafeteria when everyone’s speaking English,” but I didn’t believe it was an actual problem. I just thought I had to try harder to do as well as everyone else.

Theoretically, though, it is an actual disability. I should have been able to get actual disability accomodations, for it. I shouldn’t have had things my brain doesn’t do well counted against me as failure to study or slacking off. (No, I’m not exaggerating. When I went to the Spanish-practice table and didn’t talk enough, by whatever the student worker’s standard was, I got dirty looks and passive-aggressive complaints about how they had to give me credit for attending even though I wasn’t doing anything.)
I don’t know if my college or my professors would have actually taken it seriously, even if I’d had a diagnosis and all the boilerplate I ought to have, but. That shouldn’t have happened.

——

Prompted by people on Tumblr talking about “modified language learning” programs for people with disabilities.

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