Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Changing my story.......

dys·cal·cu·li·a  (Diss- Kal-cue-lee-ah) n. Impairment of the ability to solve mathematical problems, usually resulting from brain dysfunction.

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It is very hard for me to speak openly about the struggles I have endured because of my learning difficulties.  I have shared these struggles personally with friends and family. Posted about it on my blog is a HUGE step for me. While I have very few blog followers, it still feels like I am putting it out there for the entire world.
For most of my life I have thought of myself as stupid.  I knew I was very smart about some things, but there was a place, a very large place where I was stupid.  I learned to compensate, I learned ways to get around my struggles, to hide them from my peers.  But there was and still is an underlining fear of being “caught”.  Of showing the world how dumb I truly am…..
I am 59 and I still count on my fingers.  
I am unable to do mental math. 
I don’t know my multiplication tables.  
I was a junior in high school before I could tell time.  I covered it up by pretended my glasses were not strong enough to read the clock. 
For years I had a cheat sheet in my checkbook, because I could not remember how to spell the numbers needed to write checks. 
I avoid having to figure out tips at restaurants, because I am terrified of not doing the math correctly.  I can't divide the check so everyone knows what they owe.
I never wanted to go bowling with friends for fear of having to keep score.  
When I give verbal directions as we drive, I often say left when I mean right and the other way around.  
I don’t play board games because almost all of them have some math aspect, counting money, keeping track of cards, etc.  I also find concentrating on a board game for a length of time to be difficult.  Don't even get me started on games of strategy....... 
I can’t “work” a ruler if it involves fractions.  
I can’t figure out percents while shopping for sale items.  
I could go on…….
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While I don’t have an official diagnosis, I now know I have dyscalculia. While talking with a girlfriend about the struggles her son is having in grade school, I shared about my struggles with math and numbers.  She said “Oh, I bet you have dyscalculia.”  I Googled it and there was my answer: Dyscalculia. A learning disorder! 
I took a short test on a website.  I realized for the first time in my life that I wasn’t some inferior person.  I was just struggling with something that is so little known and so misunderstood that even the special education departments in school weren’t aware. Ask the average person on the street what dyslexia is and most of them will have at least a general idea and acknowledge it as being a legitimate disorder. Ask that same person about dyscalculia, and they will usually not have a clue what you are talking about. When you try to explain, often they will just wave it off and say “Well a lot of people are bad at math.”  
But this is so much more than that. In high school I took remedial math, struggled to pass it after two tries.  In community college, I again took remedial math.  I knew I could never gain a degree higher then an A.A., as I would not be able to do the math needed.  So I have two A.A. degrees, but no B.A.
I can’t really explain what it’s like to someone that doesn’t have it, but imagine that every single time something having to do with numbers comes up in your life, you freeze like a deer in headlights. Your brain goes blank, you sweat, it is paralyzing, it is humiliating, and it feels so hopeless.  
This will be a lifelong issue and I will always be different because of it.  Nobody should have to feel inferior because they have a mind that works differently.  I am not lazy, and I am not making excuses. My disorder is legitimate and painful.  But just knowing what I have is healing.

This is some information I found…..let’s just say it fits me almost exactly.

Dyscalculia involves frequent difficulties with everyday arithmetic tasks like the following: 

- Difficulty reading analog clocks, 

- Difficulty stating which of two numbers is larger, 

- Inability to comprehend financial planning or budgeting, sometimes even at a basic level; for example, estimating the cost of the items in a shopping basket or balancing a checkbook 

- Difficulty with multiplication-tables, and subtraction-tables, addition tables, division tables, mental arithmetic, etc. 

- Difficulty with conceptualizing time and judging the passing of time. May be chronically late or early 

- Problems with differentiating between left and right 

- Inability to visualize mentally 

- Difficulty reading musical notation 

- Difficulty navigating or mentally "turning" the map to face the current direction rather than the common North 

- Having particular difficulty mentally estimating the measurement of an object or distance (e.g., whether something is 10 or 20 feet (3 or 6 meters) away). 

- Often unable to grasp and remember mathematical concepts, rules, formulae, and sequences 

- Inability to concentrate on mentally intensive tasks 

- Low latent inhibition, i.e. over-sensitivity to noise, smell, light and the inability to tune out, filtering unwanted information or impressions. Might have a well-developed sense of imagination due to this (possibly as cognitive compensation to mathematical–numeric deficits);_ylt=A0SO8x2KaIpUXzMAzzRXNyoA?qid=20131206174535AA2SDvF


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