Hi, my name is Elizabeth Beu. I guess if I had to explain my life to you, I would say that it has had a little bit of everything in it. On the other hand, people that really dont know me as well would think that I am happy all the time because I smile a lot. In reality, I am not happy all the time. I get the same emotions that everyone else gets, but some of the time I dont show my emotions to people. I have experienced disappointment, sadness, happiness, loneliness, frustration, being scared and being angry. All of these emotions that I have felt and experienced have helped me become the person that I am today.
From the time I was in 1st grade until 5th grade, elementary school was hard for me. Not because of the academics, but because of the social part of school. I was an A and B and an honor roll student every year in elementary school. Social in elementary school I was shy and I had a speech disability apraxia. When I would start to talk to kids, they would either not want to talk to me or they would make fun of how I talked. All of this going on made me feel sad and angry because kids where making fun of my talking and they didnt want to talk to me or get to know me as a person. I felt lonely, because I didnt have any friends to hang out with or talk too. In a conversation with a kid, it was hard to get the words out in time or even talk to that kid to say what I wanted to say. This caused me to get frustrated because of my disability. This made my confidence to talk to people go way down to where I didnt want to talk to anyone. I also didnt want to go to school because I knew that if I went to school, I would get made fun of and I didnt want to get made fun of. Finally in 5th grade I stood up to one of the kids that were making fun of me for all of those years. How I stood up to this kid is that I pushed her out of the four square line. I push her out of line, because she dished me in line and because I didnt have the words to say something. We had to go down to the discipline room, which was my first time ever going there. We sat down and talked and the only thing that the discipline teacher could say is that I wasnt that nice little girl any more.
From 6th grade through 9th grade I went to Marburn Academy, a privet school for people with learning disabilitys. I didnt want to go there at first, because I wanted to go to Woodward Park for middle school a Columbus Public School. Why I went to Marburn in the first place was because I wasnt talking to many people and I was going to go mute, not talk at all. I wasnt talking, because of people making fun of me and I didnt have any confidence in myself to talk to people. I also went to Marburn because of my reading skills. My reading skills where low and Marburn had a reading program that was called Wilson. In the Wilson reading program you progress in reading at your own pace. When you first start the Wilson program you get tested to see where you should begin reading at. Once you have been tested you begin at the level that you test out at. I started out at level 1.1 which was the lowest level that you could start out on. This program helped me to read. By the end of 8th grade when the reading program stopped I was on level 9.1. This was a big improvement in my reading skills in only three years. When I was there I got good grades and I was more social. I was an A and B student there. Social for the first time, I had three friends that I could hang out with in school and out of school. The students that I was with didnt make fun of the way I talked. I got confidence in myself to talk to the other students. When I talked they would listen to me and they got to know me as a person. I am glad I went to Marburn. Leaving Marburn was sad, but it was time for me to get on with my life.
From 10th grade through 12th grade, I went to Beechcroft High School. Before I went to Beechcroft, I had a tour of the school and I talk to one of the LD student that was going to Beechcroft at that time. She said If you tell anyone about your disability or that you have a disability, thoughts students that know that you have a disability will make fun of you. So when I went to Beechcroft, I didnt talk about my disability. Thismade it hard for me to fit in anywhere socially, to talk to the other students, I wasnt myself and I tried to be someone that I really wasnt at Beechcroft. I got As and Bs all the way through high school. I got made fun of by the other students at Beechcroft for the way that I talked and because I had a disability. When this started happening to me again at Beechcroft, my confidence to talk to the other students went down. Some of the students didnt know if I could talk because they never heard me talk before and when they did hear me talk, they were surprised that I could talk. I had two 11th grade years at Beechcroft, just for me to grow as a person more.
I played on the volleyball team at Beechcroft and I got made fun of by the other girls that were on the team, because of my skill level and the fact that I had a disability. How they would make fun of me, is if I had a class in the LD room and they had a class across the hall from me and they saw me in there, they would point at me across the hall and start to laugh at me. They didnt want to have me as a partner in practice or before games to warm up there volleyball skills. They didnt want to sit by me or even get to know me as a person. I tried out for the Beechcroft basketball team two years in a row and I didnt make it, because I dribbled the ball to high and that is apart of my disability. When I didnt make the team a student that made the team started to make fun of me, by playing a one on one game with me and having her other teammates watch while she bet me, to prove to her teammates that she was a better basketball player then I was. When I lost the game that student and her teammates that were watching her play me would start laugh at me.
The students that were regular students that I hung out with at Beechccroft, said to me that other students in their classes would say to them, Why do you hang out with someone who has a disability? They would say, Because I like hanging out with her. Even on the school bus the students would make fun of me. They would not let me sit by them and they would make fun of my talking. One day when I got on the bus, this student wouldnt let me sit down again. I got tired of him not letting me sit down beside him, so I push him to the other side of that set, so I could sit down. After that day the students let me sit beside them.
Before my second 11th grade year at Beechcroft, I went to Career Camp and being there, got me into Special Olympics. Being in Special Olympics has really been a good thing for me. I started in Special Olympics five years ago. My first sport to play in Special Olympics was basketball. I started out that basketball season, sitting on the bench and not getting to play that much. Since the half way point of that season when the coach put me in as a starter, I have played in every basketball game, the entire time. I have improved my skill level each year on the basketball team. Special Olympics for me, has been some place where I can go and have fun playing sports and not have to worry about people making fun of my skill level or how I talk. It is also a place where I can be myself. I am looked up by other people on the basketball team and I lead by example on the team. I also havgotten confidence to talk to more people and I have gotten to know people. Through the five years that I have been in Special Olympics, I have competed in basketball, track, volleyball, softball, and swimming. My favorite sport to compete and play out of all of these sports is basketball.
After I played basketball for Special Olympics for two years and was a starter for one and a half years. The student from the Beeechcroft basketball team that always wanted to play me, all the time all four years of high school, wanted to play me again in 12th grade. This time things went differently. She started to play me and she thought that she was going to bet me easily. She thought wrong. She didnt know that I had been a starter on the Special Olympics basketball team. We started playing each other and she noticed that my basketball skill level had improved. I started to bet her and she gave up on the game and let me win. She decided that she didnt want to play me anymore, I just laugh in my head.
My best year at Beechcroft was my 12th grade year; I went to Beechcroft half the day and I went to Northeast Career Center for Professional Internship Program half the day. In the Professional Internship Program you learned computer skills and you get an internship using these skills. I almost didnt get accepted into the program because of my disability. The teacher that would be teaching that class thought that I couldnt handle the work. She put me on a trial period, to see if I would be able to handle the work. I was able to do the work and I got the outstanding student award at the end of the year in her class. That year at Beechcroft, I made one friend that I could hang out with in school and out of school.
After I graduated from Becchcroft, I went to the Youth Leadership Forum held in Columbus, Ohio every year at the Radisson Airport Hotel. This was a four day conference for people who have all different disabilities. When I first went there I didnt know what to expect. Through out the four days that I was there, they had big and small group discussions about what it was like for you to have your disability. They also had speakers some with and some without disabilities, to give us encouragement. I got confidence in myself, that week to talk to other people and to just be myself. I learned that week through the group discussions and the speakers, that the delegates at the conference had similar experiences in school as me, with students making fun of them because they had a disability. This made me feel not so lonely, because I knew people that understood what I went through at school. At the end of that week, we each had to make a goal for ourselves. My goal was to tell people in City Year about my disability, instead of hide it.
After the conference I went to City Year. City Year is a community service organization for 17 to 24 year olds. In City Year sixty corps member that are different from you, are divided into teams so that they can serve for a year in five schools. Sometimes you do service with your team and sometimes the whole corps together does service around the city. When I first started City Year, I didnt know what to expect. I went in there the first day shy and I didnt really talk to many people. The next week, the whole corps went to camp. At camp, we got to know each better and I talked a little bit more to the corps members. I prepare a speech for that week that talked about my disability. I didnt give the speech, because I was scared and I didnt know if the corps members would accept me, if they knew I had a disability. One session we did as a corps was a stereo typing exercise, you had to write down what you thought about that person on a card. That person got all of the cards back, that other people in there group wrote down about them. When I got my cards back from everyone in the group, one of my cards said that I was dumb, stupid and retarded no offense. I felt mad, sad and hurt by the words. The person, who I thought wrote the words down because he got there that day, didnt write those words. I finally found out at the end of that week, what corps member wrote those words. I was put on a team with these two corps members. This made me want to tell people about my disability. The next week, I got permission from one of the people on staff to give my speech. My speech went well and I was accepted by the other corps members that year. I found out later that year, when I went to Cleveland to meet City Year Cleveland corps members, with some of the corps members from City Year Columbus that the person that was in charge of the corps members from Columbus said, That she didnt think I would make it through City Year that year, but she was wrong. Why she thought this was because of what happened earlier in the year with the stereo typing exercise. She thought that I wasnt strong enough to put that be hide me, but I was. City Year was a good experience for me to have. Over the two years that I was a City Year corps member, I grew a lot as a person, I got confidence to talk to people and I told people about my disability.
After I finished City Year, I got a job at Meijer as a bagger and I am going to Columbus State Community College. When I first started at Meijer, I was shy and didnt really talk to that many people, but now I talk to more people. At Columbus State I have gotten to know people and I have told people about my disability.
Now you have heard, most of my experiences of what I have gone through living with this disability. It wasnt all happy and it sure wasnt that easy, but I think going through these experiences have helped me grow and made me a stronger person today. I hope my story gave you an idea of what it is like to live with apraixa. Thank you for listening to my story.