Today, in an attempt to make as much money as possible before graduating, I worked for the disability resource center on campus, helping administer finals for their students. It was humbling to see the different people coming to take tests- for some it was obvious why they needed assistance with their finals, but many others looked just like anybody else on campus, and I wondered how many difficulties the people around me have that I have no idea of.
I helped a girl with a final for a class I'd taken last semester, reading the questions aloud to her and then taking down the answers she dictated to me. She was very nice, and I don't know exactly what her situation was, but it was a little heartbreaking to read the question to her and look and see that the point of the question was lost on her. Simple strategies that I use, like skipping over extraneous words to get at the basic question that is being asked, seemed to be impossible for her to grasp. I wanted to put my arm around her and parse each of the sentences so she could understand what question she was meant to answer, because I could tell from the things she said that the information was floating around in there. She just couldn't figure out what information to give me to write down. The fact that I had taken that exact class, with that exact professor, so recently made it that much worse. I felt myself biting back answers to the questions; I wanted to remind her of readings that would help her, or tell her, yes, you're on the right track. But all I was there to do for her was read and write.
Is this what it is like for people? Are there many people who have this struggle on a regular basis? I never realized how hard these things could be, these things that come so easily to me. I feel guilty for never having appreciated how easy my life has been up to this point. This afternoon was definitely the hardest thing I've done for a long time. I don't know whether I could do that again if I wanted to.