deer valley viewGratitude, we hear so much about this now in current readings and newscasts. We hear this from many spiritual and religious practices and from psychologists and counselors. We realize that being grateful puts things and situations in perspective. By searching for gratitude, we can find the “silver lining” and worth from our experience whether it was something we enjoyed or an adverse situation where we had to overcome obstacles and dig deep to find our strength and patience.

This year the main essay for our RiSE Scholarship Award application is based on this topic. Applicants are asked to express their experience with gratitude in regards to their journey with learning differently.

I have personally seen my perspective change when that is the way I am interpreting things, is this case with you? I have seen that if I recall the times where I have had to work hard to overcome a situation (an IEP meeting that I had to research because I knew nothing about what to ask for, a project that was tough for my child to complete, a time where we had to homeschool because there was not an acceptable option) that there is always a small thread of thankfulness. I can accept it may not have been something I would have chosen, but usually during those times I have shown my child that I am on their team. I am supportive of him or her. I have maybe even shown a teacher or school staff another option or way of looking at a child with a learning difference.

Of course the idea of your child (as well as you or your family) having a difficulty is not what we would have planned, however, being as it may we can reframe the idea. We can change our perception of it. We all have that opportunity. As parents and students with adversity, we all have that gift.

The culture is changing. Educators are realizing the need for teaching alternatively. It may be a slow process, but change is occurring. With each of our success stories and our personal insight on what might work better and what is helpful for our student a shift is taking place.

I can recall many gifts I have received through these years since my children’s diagnosis (es). I can, of course, recall things I do not care to repeat, but those also were lessons in themselves. Also I realize that gratitude takes time to look back and reflect. It is not found while in the midst of the crisis, the calls from school, or when in the middle of the storm. It comes from time passed and seen more clearly with baby steps of success.

I would love to hear how you have reflected on learning differently with gratitude. Has it given you an opportunity or a character trait that has helped you? Have you learned things you would not have known without this experience? Feel free to email us at

The “And So On” Blog by Jena Young


Jena Young is an advocate for students who learn differently and the Co-Founder of RiSE Scholarship Foundation, Inc.

The advice in this blog is from her personally and not intended as professional advice from RiSE. 









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  1. Daniel says:

    If you do not submit your scholarship on February 15, then there still a chance to make up for it like getting the same one but with a different due date.

  2. admin says:

    Because of the deadline falling on Sunday and the President’s Day holiday, we are accepting applications postmarked on the 17th this year. Thanks for your interest.