Bumblebees Don't Know

At age 10, I was diagnosed with a Central Auditory Processing Deficit, Hyperacusis, and Tinnitus on April 15, 1998. The diagnosis helped explain to me and my family why school and life had been so difficult. It gave a reason for why I was getting easily overwhelmed by sound and why school was getting more difficult. Because my brain didn’t process sound well it meant I was missing much of what was said and many of the other noises around me. We now know that this was likely caused by many sinus infections as a young child which caused my brain’s ability to process sound to be compromised. During my early years my brain was not exposed to sounds and didn't form enough hearing pathways. Although my ears work fine I can come across as someone who is deaf or hard of hearing. The last thirteen years have been a struggle to overcome my CAPD and other subsequent learning disabilites and learn how to live my life to the fullest.

As a result of my CAPD I have issues hearing the natural "grammar" of speech.  So as a result it took long years of drilling and editing to learn how to use commas and other punctuation.  I also have issues sequencing events in both writing and speech.  I often mishear phrases or words and as a result there is a large "Tamar's Speech Dictionary' and every now and then we all add another word to that list.  The processing deficits have also affected my abilities to do abstract math easily, but over time I have gotten better, like learning percentages by going shopping and figuring out the sale price! 

I changed after I was diagnosed. I stopped being the free spirited, carefree kid I was before. Before that day nothing stopped me, then suddenly my life was brought to a screeching halt. I suddenly had “issues,” I had to visit specialists, I became embarrassed about who I had become. I denied that I had these problems and let the diagnosis define who I was until I saw that having CAPD was one more unique part of who I was.

I now “own my disability” telling friends, professors, and even university admissions board about the LDs I have overcome. While at American University, for my undergraduate education, I thrived due to an amazing support program they have, including a separate application process, special college writing classes, and free tutors. Now at Wheelock College, I am not using any services, like note takers or extended test time.  I am thriving mainly because of support services I had in past years and the non-stop dedication of those closest to me.

Owning my disability has changed my life for the better, and I now can live my life no longer afraid of having to hide my “issues.” Sure at times I get down in the dumps and do the “poor me” or “why not someone else” but I know that that attitude gets me nowhere. Holding my head high is the only way to get through life, if people do not accept me and my “stuff” then they miss out on meeting the individual behind it all. It has taken me a long time to understand that and it has allowed me to meet some amazing people along the way who have helped me see who I really am and how to live life to the fullest!

“When life starts to get to me my mom always says, “Bumblebees don’t know.” This is because aerodynamically bumblebees shouldn’t be able to fly; yet they do. This reminds me that even though I was told that I couldn’t do certain things, I did. Knowing this, I get up each day and work hard at school, at work, and dance. When I do these things I am flying.”
-- From my AU essay