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Do you tell people that you have dyscalculia?





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frustrated college student with possible dyscalculia
Pickles
#1 Print Post
Posted on December 06 2008 04:48 PM
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I apologize for the length of this introduction, but for the first time I feel like my brain is making sense, and it's an emotionally overwhelming realization. I am 22 and in college working toward my associate's degree in Biology.

I have always excelled at my English, science, art, and history classes (except when it came to remembering dates) but have failed almost every math class (or barely passed with a low C or D average) and ended up taking remedial maths in high school.

Once I started college (Biology major), my inability to compute mathematical concepts that seem so simple for everyone else became apparent, and very frustrating. I felt stupid or mentally deficient, despite the fact that my grades in other classes averaged B or higher.

I took college algebra first, and ended up with a C at the end of the semester. The next semester, I attempted precalculus, but by week two of the class, I was so overwhelmed and confused by everything that I dropped the class.

The next semester, I retook college algebra, convinced that if I took it again, I would finally be able to learn and retain the things taught to me, and would be able to progress to precalculus. Bear in mind that this whole time, I had been going to my school's math and science tutoring lab every day after class to do and get help with my homework. By the end of the semester, I barely squeezed by with a C again, despite the fact that I had already taken this exact same class before.

I decided to get over it and go ahead with precalculus. I stuck with it until the end of the semester, my self esteem dipping lower and lower with every failed quiz and test that I received back from my professor, and I admit that when the final exam came around, I (in an act I now feel may have been overly dramatic, though I was almost to the point of tears at the time) wrote on the test "I am too stupid for this test." and turned it in and quickly left the classroom before I started crying in front of everyone, especially my teacher. I failed that class, no surprise.

I am now on the verge of completing precalculus again, and I have worked harder than I ever had before making sure to spend all of my extra time in the tutoring lab doing every single homework problem. I had four math tests, two of which I passed with a B (amazing!!!) but failed the other two without a doubt. I am currently sitting at a 73 average, and whether or not I pass this class banks on the final exam which is on monday.

I know that I have above average intelligence, I have been tested for it, so the fact that I am practically incapable of comprehending abstract mathematical concepts never seemed to make sense to me. I also have ADD, but that usually doesn't have such a specific effect one one area of study, which is what I noticed for my math skills. Then someone mentioned that I may have dyscalculia, and upon investigating this, everything seemed to click into place.

I looked over the checklist at dyscalculia.org and I ended up checking off all but two of the symptoms. I am going to see a counselor about it on monday after I take my final exam. Please cross your fingers for me that I don't bomb this exam, because I don't want to have to take precalc for a fourth time. I am nervous and scared, and feel like this is out of my control, which is ever scarier to me.

What do you guys think? And if you have read this far, I thank you sincerely for your time and attention. If I test positive for dyscalculia when I see my counselor, my quality of life may be made just that much better.

~Pickles
 
CheshireKat
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Posted on December 06 2008 05:41 PM
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Pickles, welcome to our forum! I'm Kat, and I totally understand your math woes. I have walked out of more than one college math exam in tears... many members of this forum have. When you know you're intelligent, when you know you're capable, when you know you're busting your butt to try to learn the material and understand, and you still fail anyway... it's a horrible, crushing feeling. We understand.

I ended up dropping my Pre-Calculus Algebra class (the one I was put into after 4 years of honors high school math that nearly killed me) after several F's in a row... I am attending college on 100% scholarship and if I lose it, there is no more money for tuition. I do not want to be in student loan debt up to my eyeballs until I'm 70 because of dyscalculia, so I chose a W in place of an F on my transcript.

I used to write interesting things on my math exams too, when I didn't know the answer and couldn't even begin to attempt the problem. Usually I would re-write the problem, then underneath it write something like, "B, Final Answer." and just leave it at that. My professor thought I was just being "cute" because I hadn't studied... little did he or I know until about a month ago when I got tested and found out I had dyscalculia.

If you're apologizing for your long post, I apologize for my long reply. xD Welcome to the forum, though, we're really happy to have you here. You'll meet a lot of great people going through the same thing, and find out a lot of interesting stuff that might make your life easier.

And finally, good luck on your exam on Monday!!!
"The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings." - Eric Hoffer
 
justfoundout
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Posted on December 06 2008 05:42 PM
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12/6/08
Learning it and then forgetting it sounds very "dyscalculic". Most of us here on the forum complain about having this problem. And doing well in everything but math also sounds dyscalculic. The only thing that's "unusual" is the fact that you actually passed College Algebra. But with so much dedication and tutoring, that would explain it. Even so, many of us, despite above average intelligence and lots of effort haven't been able to pass College Algebra. I don't even come near passing it. I've failed Elementary Algebra three times.

I'll cut to the chase. You may have "learned too much math" to be diagnosed as having a Math Learning disability. IQ tests don't just measure what you have as a natural gift. They also measure your "performance", and your performance is so good that even if you truly do have a Math Learning disability, the diagnosis may not confirm this. The only way to know is to be tested. Do this if at all possible. I didn't get the diagnosis, so sadly, I still can't get my degree either.

Welcome to the forum. We look forward to hearing what your counselor says, and please come back to the forum to let us know if you need help finding a way to get tested. I'm an older female. - justfoundout
Edited by justfoundout on December 06 2008 05:47 PM
 
Rae
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Posted on December 06 2008 08:48 PM
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Hello Pickles and welcome!

I too have walked out of a math test in absolute tears, shaking. There's nothing worse than the sheer frustration of not being able to pass.

Have you attempted to explain your troubles to your math professor?
 
evie dee
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Posted on December 07 2008 08:31 PM
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Hello, Pickles. Welcome!
 
http://myspace.com/evie_dee
Pickles
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Posted on December 07 2008 10:17 PM
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CheshireKat-
When you go through life unaware that a disability that you have even exists, it is almost a life-changing experience when you discover it. Thank you for the welcome!

justfoundout-
Well, I see what you are saying, but when I said that I passed alegebra with a C, I should have been more specific. I finished that class both times I attempted it with a 71 average. A 70 is a D and requires you to retake the class before you can proceed to the next level, and a 69 is a failing grade. I wonder, too, if my teachers may have made some exceptions for my grade based on the amount of effort I put into it (which, while very nice doesn't really help me in the long run.) Also, I don't know much about this disorder yet, but is it possible that there are different degrees of seriousness? Thank you for your insight, though, and thank you for your welcome.

Rae-
Yes, I have spoken to my math professor all year asking for any extra tips and strategies she might have that could help me, and until a few days ago I didn't even know that this disorder existed. So the whole time I was trying to get her to understand what confused me about everything, but even I didn't really know how to describe it.

evie dee- thank you for the welcome!

I will post again after I speak to my counselor and find out what is going on.
Edited by Pickles on December 07 2008 11:03 PM
 
reverend blamo
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Posted on December 08 2008 02:39 AM
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Hello Pickles, welcome.
"I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused..."
Elvis Costello
 
justfoundout
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Posted on December 08 2008 05:12 AM
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12/7/08
Dear Pickles,
The first time that I heard that an expert had said that there were no levels of dyscalculia, I thought that he didn't know what he was talking about. But with time, (although still not completely convinced) I saw what he meant. The additional disabilities have an effect on how much the person can 'compensate' for his Math LD. - jus'
 
twistedxkiss
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Posted on December 08 2008 07:51 AM
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For your consideration, I have an above average IQ and am managing a high B in my intermediate college algebra class right now (albeit on the second try, the first was pre-diagnosis), and I was not only diagnosed but my testing assessed me as having a mid-seventh grade math achievement score. So sometimes your abilities, or lack thereof as it were, can surprise you in the testing room.
 
Pickles
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Posted on December 10 2008 08:26 PM
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I just received my precalculus final exam grade, and I got an 80, which brought my average up from a 73 to a 77. Believe me, when I found out I was jumping around and screaming from joy and I text messaged about 20 people and called my whole family to tell them. I'm now starting to really think about what you were saying, Justfoundout, about how most dyscalculics don't even pass college algebra.

I have decided that perhaps I am just very good with math as opposed to having an actual learning disorder. I do display most of the symptoms as listed on dyscalculia.org, so this is what makes me wonder about how there might be different levels of severity and how one could tell the difference between being inept with something and actually having a learning disorder about it. But at the same time upon receiving my grade, I don't feel that I could rightfully seek aid from my college for it even if I did have it.
Edited by Pickles on December 10 2008 08:27 PM
 
twistedxkiss
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Posted on December 10 2008 08:45 PM
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Pickles wrote:
I just received my precalculus final exam grade, and I got an 80, which brought my average up from a 73 to a 77. Believe me, when I found out I was jumping around and screaming from joy and I text messaged about 20 people and called my whole family to tell them. I'm now starting to really think about what you were saying, Justfoundout, about how most dyscalculics don't even pass college algebra.

I have decided that perhaps I am just very good with math as opposed to having an actual learning disorder. I do display most of the symptoms as listed on dyscalculia.org, so this is what makes me wonder about how there might be different levels of severity and how one could tell the difference between being inept with something and actually having a learning disorder about it. But at the same time upon receiving my grade, I don't feel that I could rightfully seek aid from my college for it even if I did have it.


There are varying degrees of severity in case no one's mentioned that yet, I haven't reread the whole thread. I was initially diagnosed as being mild but the doctor ended up changing his mind on that.

I passed my intermediate algebra class on the second attempt, but I still can't do mental math or figure out the problems without sixteen attempts. So I get accommodations for that, to get extra time and no restrictions on when I can have a calculator, so that I can actually be tested on algebra and not my ability to count and not transpose signs and numbers. I suspect my grandpa of having dyscalculia and he was in engineering.
 
monkeyfeathersmom
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Posted on December 12 2008 02:10 AM
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Hi and welcome!
 
justfoundout
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Posted on December 12 2008 03:37 AM
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12/11/08
Dear Pickles,
I know what you mean. We only want the diagnosis if we are really dyscalculic. Here's what has "seen me through" pressure from supposed 'experts' who did not give me the dyscalculia diagnoses.

I am unable to "hold numbers in my head". I can't do mental arithmetic beyond some very simple calculations. When I try to visualize three or more digits, they fade and distort and aren't there as I try to continue working with them. This is the reason that I count on my fingers in order to do multiplication. I didn't know until I started reading this forum that "the others" who aren't dyscalculic are ABLE to hold numbers in their heads. Hence, when I do a math test, I really need for things to be quiet, with no one talking or writing on a blackboard, for example, because that makes me 'loose count'.

This forum has a "word search" field. This enables you to search certain terms to see what previous mentions other forum members have made using that word over the years. To find the "word search" field, click on the words Dyscalculia Forum at the top left of this page. The next page will have that field, either at the top of the page or at the bottom. If you'll search "left intraparietal sulcus", you'll find a lot of information. (I think that they mispelled it in the article pasted on this forum. They wrote "suclus" rather than "sulcus".) What I think would be the best test for dyscalculia is one of those MRI's where the parts of the brain that are being used during an exercise "light up". But MRI's havent' been okayed yet for testing for dyscalculia. I think that it's only a matter of time, and then those of us who are dyscalculic won't have to worry any more about convincing anyone of our disability. But also, there are other disabilities that converge, and together make math difficult. Some members of this forum have trouble with math due to problems with, for example, aligning the numbers properly on the page. - jus'
Edited by justfoundout on December 12 2008 03:41 AM
 
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