Searching for Words

By Colleen Smereka, B.A., B.Ed.

The Impact of Not Being Diagnosed Early

Searching for Words: A Woman’s Fight to Learn was released in February 2013, and I have grown so much as a person since then. However, when I watch this video, I’m reminded of what a great job the creators did in capturing my story and the impacts of not being diagnosed early.

At the end, I say, “…I feel like I can do anything I want to do.”

I stand by this statement but as time goes by, I find myself wishing I had received my diagnosis sooner. As I’ve shown, with the right supports, tools, and knowledge I can thrive in any learning or working environment, but I wish I had had more time to develop my skills and grow my career.

The challenges I find myself facing are because of the emotional scars I carry from living in a world not equipped for someone who learns differently. If I had been diagnosed earlier and was provided interventions, I believe the process of undoing all the harmful messages I received would have been not so difficult and painful.



Someone once told me that the culmination of my negative learning experiences and subtle societal messages have resulted in an imaginary dandelion growing inside of me, and I’m able to pop the head off this dandelion each time I complete a degree or get a new job. However, the dandelion will grow back unless I get rid of the roots that give life to it. I need to kill these roots to be free of the hold my first 22 years have over me. For the most part I feel like the pesty roots are gone, but then I find myself in a new situation or around new people and there they are: these negative emotions, actions, and worries.

I’m sharing this with you today because my dream is that no other child will experience these same feelings about themselves. Early diagnoses and interventions can prevent the planting of these negative seeds.

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