Chapter 6
My Experience as a Blind Individual in District 77

I HAVE been legally blind since birth. However I have always attended regular school and worked in regular classrooms. However, this has not been the best thing of my life.

First of all, even in the regular classroom, since first grade, there was an aide in all my classes. In the lower grades the aide would do absolutely everything, even if it was ridiculously simple for me to do. For example, the aide would pick up my pencil if I dropped it and get my lunch for me in the lunch line.

Not only did the aide do things in school, but she did things outside of school too! I remember when I was with my parents at a fast food resturant and we were getting ready to leave. My dad told me to zip my coat up, and this aide came running over and yelled that she's my aide and that she'll zip the coat for me.

Another example of an aide bothering me and my parents outside of school was when I was taking swimming lessons at the Y. My dad had become diabetic and was unable to eat too much sugar. I wanted to get a candy bar out of the machine, and my dad gave me the money. When I came back my dad was sitting with an aide. The aide insisted that I share the candy with my dad. Now I knew that my dad was diabetic and couldn't have candy, but the aide made it an issue of not knowing how to share. My dad eventually said he couldn't have candy.

In elementary school I've had quite a few experiences with the music department. One of them was when I was restless during music class. The teacher called my dad and told him that I was restless in class. My dad said that because of my perfect pitch I can get irritated or annoyed when people sing out of tune. The music teacher began to argue with my dad and tell him that I don't know anything about music and that I don't know one note from another. Now what was true was that there were songs which had accompanying hand and body motions that I could not see. When I did these motions wrong my dad got told I don't know anything about music!

The same goes for when I broke my collar bone in first grade. The principal called my dad and said I was just having an episode and that nothing was wrong. That also happened when I broke my arm; the principal called and said that it was an episode, nothing was wrong, and that my mom should come because my dad was blind and he 'wouldn't be able to assess the situation.' Since my mom was busy my dad came anyway and took me to the clinic, only to discover I had a broken arm. You'll also be reading about my broken arm later.

Recently I've had trouble participating in things I'm interested in. I participated in the science fair from 3rd to 6th grade, but not in 7th and 8th grade. I missed out on a math club and a science club because I did not get the information on time.

I also get treated unfairly sometimes. When a student shoved my head into a wall and I reported it I got told that nobody saw it, therefore nothing can be done. When somebody reported that I got too close to them, it was considered a serious discipline issue. It has been frustrating.

Even my parents have had difficulty trying to get my teachers and advisors to understand about my blindness and to get the reasonable accommodations that I am entitled to. As I older I am hoping that my teachers will begin to believe me more when I say I can't see something and will instead assist me in finding alternative ways. If this can happen then high school will be a more pleasant and rewarding experience for me.

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