This piece was written by Zachary Yieh, a 16-year-old sophomore from George Washington High School in San Francisco for KQED’s Youth Takeover Week.
When I was about 4 1/2 years old, I was diagnosed with a learning disability known as autism. It was very rough growing up with it, considering the fact that I wasn't able to have an actual conversation until I was about 7 years old.
School was very difficult for me when I was younger. I had been working at a different pace than other students. Teachers would always discuss with my parents about ways to improve my learning. I have an Individual Education Plan (IEP), which allows special accommodations for school. But I still face some discrimination from school staff. I asked my mom, Janet Yieh, about how that played out when I was younger.
“This really sticks out in my head because it was right when you were going into kindergarten," she said. "I stopped to talk to your brother's former kindergarten teacher and I asked her if she was ready to have you in her class the next year. And her response was, 'I don't think Zachary is going to be a good fit for my classroom.' "
She said she was really shocked by the teacher’s response, but found another kindergarten teacher who was willing to take me on.