My Abilities

My Abilities

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Be The Best You Can Be

My Abilities

Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.

~Judy Garland

I once had a blind friend in elementary school named Easton. I remember one day when I asked him, “Easton, if they came up with a way to cure blindness, would you want to get your blindness cured?” To my surprise, he said no. He said that this blindness was a way of life for him. It was what he was used to. It was what he had known all his life. I was confused. I mean, if I were blind, I surely would want to see. Then, when I was in middle school, I was diagnosed with a nonverbal learning disability and Asperger’s syndrome. It was because of these that my social, organizational, and handwriting skills (among other things) were less than up to par.

Several years after I was diagnosed, I started thinking about that day when I had asked Easton if he wanted to have his blindness cured. It was then that I was able to see what he meant. I realized that I was thankful for my disabilities, and that I wouldn’t want them to be cured. Like Easton, my disabilities have become a way of life for me. Sure they inhibit my social skills, so I tend to be the kid who sits there quietly and reads while everyone else talks with their friends. And sure my social mannerisms can be awkward at times. But I do have a few very close friends who mean the world to me. And you know what? Sometimes it’s nice to be alone. I can’t really explain it; it just is.

Sure I tend to be somewhat uncoordinated and not very good at sports. But I’m pretty good at acting. I’ve been in several school productions: I’ve been Daddy Warbucks in Annie, Ike Skidmore in Oklahoma!, Francis in The Tempest, Charles in My Fair Lady, and even Grandpa in You Can’t Take It With You, and I have also gotten inducted into the International Thespian Society. Acting is something for which I have a passion.

Sure my handwriting tends to be sloppy sometimes, and sometimes it hurts to write, but because of that I get to type my notes — except in math, where someone takes notes for me. Sure my disabilities have inhibited my math skills, but they have also helped me to become pretty good at English. Statistics say that most kids with the disabilities similar to what I have struggle in math but are pretty good in English.

I don’t expect you to understand why I am thankful for my learning disabilities instead of wishing they could be taken away. It wasn’t until years after I was diagnosed with my disabilities that I could fully understand Easton’s reasons for accepting his blindness. I don’t think you can understand it unless you’ve experienced it. When it comes down to it, my learning disabilities are just my way of life. They are a part of me. It is the way God made me, and I cannot wait to see how He uses these disabilities in the future. Sure my disabilities have taken things away from me, but they have given me so much more. That is why I am thankful for my learning disabilities.

~Ben Jaeger

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