By Erick Schnieder
For as long as I can remember, I've been a learning-disabled person. This has been the most challenging and difficult journey I have ever faced in my life. There are some people who don’t see me having a disability but my family and friends see it.
There were lots of times where I thought having a learning disability means that I was stupid, wasn’t smart enough, I felt like I was going to give up, and asked myself why do I have this disability. I always have trouble learning the materials that the teachers when I was in grade school were giving me and I needed clarification so I know what is being taught so I can learn better. That was giving me some reassurance and it continues to help me here in college. Was there always tension between me and my family? Yes, but I’m so very grateful for everything they have done to help me get through school and prepare me for what lies ahead. I had an IEP (that stands for Individual Educational Program) which was developed to ensure that a child with an identified disability who is attending an elementary or secondary educational institution receives specialized instruction and related services. During my school career, my parents attended meetings and my dad always said: “This is for Erik” and wants what’s best for me. I have worked so hard in school and I owe it a lot to my family.
All in all, I’m continuing to overcome my disability and I’m proud of what I accomplished: going back to school, having a full-time job, living on my own, having a car, doing volunteer work like donating platelets, doing Toastmasters, and helping with the Niagara Celtic Festival, plus running cross country and having the nickname Jimbo (which I earned in 2005 because I’m such a big fan of James Bond 007). I want to thank my family for all their help and their continuing love and support. To my friends, thank you for believing in me, accepting me for who I am, and you are family to me.