Self Advocacy Key When Living With Learning Disability

Local School Helps Struggling Students


Izabella Berger

Horizon Academy eighth grader Lindsey Clizer

Izabella Berger, Reporter

     Learning disabilities can cause people to struggle learning knowledge and skills in the same way others do. Some learning disabilities are dyslexia, ADHD and dyscalculia.  While students living with these issues learn a little differently, time and time again they have proven to be successful.    

 Teachers are just one resource students can utilize to receive help and answer questions in order to self advocate.

It can be hard to learn, and sometimes you have to work harder than people to understand things.”

— Ava Bates

     “I asked the teacher for help, and I do not give up on any problem that makes it difficult,” Horizon Academy eighth grader Lindsey Clizer said. “If I do not understand a problem, I go back to the teacher and talk to them about how I do not understand the problem.” 

     Horizon Academy is a local private school that helps children with dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities. Advocating for themselves is a crucial skill for students with learning disabilities. 

     Living with a learning disability can be challenging, and some students want to give up. Horizon Academy eighth grader Ava Bates said she had to figure out how to get past challenges at school. 

     “It can be hard to learn, and sometimes you have to work harder than people to understand things,” Bates said.

     Noelle Stepp has been working as a teacher in special education for 16 years. She assists students with learning disabilities with an individualized educational plan (IEP) to aid them in their success. 

     “The biggest thing I do is to encourage kids,” Stepp said. “I think it’s very frustrating for kids who are struggling to feel defeat and to feel like they are never going to get it. So that encouragement and that relationship and supporting them is a big part of their learning.” 

     Clizer said she never wants to give up even though school gets hard. She wants her teachers to continue to support her. 

     “They are very understanding and will do their best to relieve any stress and anything you have the best as they can,” Clizer said.

     When Bates was having a hard time at school, she transferred to Horizon Academy, which has a big focus on helping students become confident self advocates. 

     “I had trouble with homework at my old school, and because of that I would always get frustrated and start crying because I felt like I was really stupid,” Bates said. “I had a hard time understanding what the teachers were asking me to do. Horizon has helped me be successful by helping me understand things in a different way.” 

     Teaching people with learning disabilities has changed significantly through the years. 

     “We have gotten aware that there are different ways that students learn,” ELA teacher Reilly Maloney-Hilgenbrinck said. “We got more resources. We got smart about it. We hope we can become better teachers because of that.”

    There are always ways to help people with learning disabilities with certain skills, and a big part of that is learning self advocacy. 

     “You should never give up, and you should always keep trying even though you might fail at something,” Bates said.