Los Angeles Times

She got into college with extra help, without cheating, and extraordinary effort

Emma Taylor doesn't remember exactly when she drew the poster that defined her young life.

Definitely elementary school. Possibly third grade. By then the learning disability that has shaped each of her 25 years had already sent her to a neuropsychologist, an occupational therapist, a vision therapist, an educational therapist. By then, she'd been evaluated, diagnosed. She had finally learned to read.

The drawing shows a very little girl two-thirds of the way up a very big mountain. The sky is a blue scrawl. The sun, a small yellow dot. Outsized, uneven black letters dominate: "I am a person That never gives up. EMMa." Today, the poster hangs in the classroom where she teaches seven little boys who have autism.

That grit helped Taylor get to where she is today - finishing up her first year of teaching and preparing for graduate school at Loyola Marymount University.

So did exhaustive evaluations throughout her years in school, which helped discern how her brain worked so she could figure out how to learn. So did accommodations, including extended time, in classrooms and testing centers like the one where she took the ACT. So did the hundreds of thousands of dollars her parents spent on therapists and tutors and private schools.

Taylor's evaluations

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