My name is Shelley, and I am terrified to be writing this post, but know I need to. I am 27 years old, I live by myself and work 2 part time jobs, and am finishing my degree as well. I should be finished by the beginning of next year...if I can get through my math classes.
Less than a year ago, I found out about dyscalculia from the .org and upon reading the checklist, found that 98% of the symptoms...describe me word for word. I was joyed at the fact that there was a new community and immediately joined to try and get a community formed (not knowing this place existed). One person there, as the board was falling into spammer's hands, suggested I come here.
It's been two days and I haven't been able to read many stories, because it scares me that so many other people are like me. It validates the fact that I do have dyscalculia, which means there is finally something wrong with me, and that I don't just have a mental demon I need to quiet. It's a mental demon alright, and I have finally found the name by way of both the checklists...and the stories of people who I swear are living another version of my life. It's like looking into a crowd of clones.
I am still sick to my stomach when posting this because now I must get serious about my problem. I am currently in math classes - one of which I just finished with a LOT of help from a tutor. This second one that just started, I have had to drop due to the class setup, while similar to the last one, the timed testing is what is impossible for me to finish the class. The first class, there was 15 questions and 3 1/2 hours. This class, it is 30 questions in 2 hours - impossible for me. While I'll get into my symptoms later on, I'll just state that it takes me forever to answer one question.
The problem is, I am not officially diagnosed as Dyscalculic - and my college does not provide resources to obtain a diagnosis. I am lost as to how to start, but now to get reasonable accommodations to finish this class, I need to have the diagnosis done and have no clue where to start. While I have emailed some people, I am unsure as to how long the process will take, or even if they can test someone of my age. I have seen just a few stories of people being tested and diagnosed in college though, so I know it is possible but have no idea where to start.
My question is, where do I begin to get a diagnosis? And cheaply?
I know why you are, I was there too for a while. I think dyscalculics go through their own version of the grief stages, somehow. All I can say is, that most people I know and talk to, come to peace with it after a while and actually appreciates it for what it is; A learning disability for people with a normal or above normal IQ, and that just means it's okay that math is hard, and okay to get all angsty about, and that you're not stupid or lazy. And that there are ways to cope. And that no one needs to let dyscalculia stop them.
First step is a diagnosis, so I'm glad you're already on the way. Who have you contacted? Where in the world are you? All US states have Learning disability associations, many know excactly how to help.
Edited by ert on May 14 2009 10:34 PM
Hi, Cacille. Only yesterday, our forum member, RottieWoman, gave advice on finding a place to be tested to a newbie who hadn't put her State on her profile. So, first, I'll tell you that in Texas you might get tested for free through DARS (Disability Assistive Rehabilitative Services). It's anybody's guess whether or not you'll get a good psychologist who knows what Mathematics Disorder is. Try to find an educational psychologist on their list, and if you can get one that's good and who also has a PhD after his/her name, that may help you get more 'respect' for the diagnosis.
And now I'll paste what RottieWoman posted yesterday to another member.
"I was diagnosed in college by researching about my suspected disability and going to Disabled Student Services office and having them refer me to OUTSIDE agency for testing, which DVR ended up paying for. Contact DVR <Division of Vocational Rehab here> and see about funding; also contact independent disability resources/independent living centers in your area to be informed of agencies/funding/general resources for your situation.
Also - National Center for Learning Disabilities, LDA<Learning Disabilities Association> are two national <in U.S.> organizations with local chapters which you can contact."
Yes, get tested. The Mathematics Disorder diagnosis can give you up to double the time on tests. It can give you a separate room in which to be tested, away from all the distractions, where you won't have to start over counting on your fingers so many times. (See, you don't even have to tell us your symptoms, in a roomful of clones!) We're so glad to have you here. - jus'
Edited by justfoundout on May 15 2009 02:45 AM
I have posted my location in my profile, I am in Missouri. As far as places to get diagnosed, I only know that my college does not provide services that helps diagnose learning disabilities. I go to an online college, a huge one but still, they would have to have that info for every state (and some other countries) and that would be difficult. So I am in this by myself, really.
I have only contacted the doctor/people listed on the dyscalculia.org website, and I have yet to receive an answer although it's only been a few days. I severely doubt that anyone watches that website as it has never been updated since it's formation.
Thank you to all who posted. While I am still scared of all of you, pretty much because of the fact that you are all so like me, and hearing your stories just...
wow. I see myself in your stories, and I just say to myself "Oh my god...Dyscalculia may be the reason why i'm like this? And this? And THIS?"
It is making me question my own personality - what is because of dyscalculia and what is truly me? But then again, some would argue that it is ALL me, and not because of one thing or another. My mental demon would love to agree with you because then it could say "See, you ARE stupid!"
Oh yes, that particular mental demon has been with me since I was a young teenager. Despite multiple efforts to rid myself of it - such as learning quantum physics in high school...for fun and to prove that I am smart to myself...it still rears it's head at me.
Now though, it's been rather quiet since a name has been found, a reason for my quirks, it has reeled back now knowing it does not have as much power as it did only last week. Though I knew about Dyscalculia and I highly suspected I had it, coming here and reading your stories has cemented it.
Of course, now comes the tough part: Proving it to a psychologist or someone similar. I will be contacting a local large college, I am not sure if they will be able to help me since I do not go to that college, but maybe they can get me to the people who can help. Thanks all. I'll post more soon, a little more about my own quirks, but for now I am not ready. This is still somewhat overwhelming for me (unheard of for me, I am quite gregarious!).
The first person who greeted you, Ert, is the young woman who started this forum. As you can see from her profile, she lives in Denmark and is Danish. You'll be able to read Threads that date all the way back to 2005, when Ert was joined by Geoff (Admin in Australia) and Countess (Admin in Germany). The fact that these people are still with us provides an element of continuity to the forum. From the beginning, reading their posts, the goal has always been to get the word out that there are many people who are dyscalculic, who qualify for help in school, and don't deserve to have things made so hard for them by people who don't know that the problem exists.
You began learning quantum physics in high school? That's wonderful. The universe is so orderly, and there's a beauty to it. I got stuck at Elementary Algebra, but finding out that I'm dyscalculic made that feel 'all right' to me, and it explains so many things that used to make me feel bad about myself. Of course you're smart. The current scientific consensus seems to be that the area of our brains called the 'left intraparietal sulcus' isn't doing much of anything for us, where for most people it does math! You can Google those three words and probably find some nice diagrams on Wikipedia. It's just one area of our brains that causes the need to count on our fingers. With a high IQ in other areas of the brain, you've found ways to circumvent the functions normally done in the 'left intraparietal sulcus'. Beyond that, I'd say that we (of this forum) have disabilities of every color of the rainbow, so you really won't find your exact 'clone' here. There will always be something that you're super good at, but that another forum member struggles with every day.
I'm fast at copying designs with the little red and white plastic blocks they give you during the IQ test. And I was able to give explanations of the obscure 'sayings' that I was asked to tell what they mean. I realized that to answer these questions (if it's not a 'saying' that you've ever heard before) it takes either a knowledge of physics or else a knowledge of the culture from whence came the 'saying' or both. Although I've never studied physics, 'the way things work' has always held me in fascination, and I've paid attention to anything to do with understanding the world around me.
If you need the contact information of my good educational psychologist, send me a PM. But you'd have to come to the DFW area of Texas to be tested by him. He would do a careful and meticulous job of it, though. - jus'
Edited by justfoundout on May 16 2009 02:55 AM
I guess I should post exactly how Dyscalculia affects me. Once I get going here, I'll be hard to stop.
-I definitely misplace numbers, drop letters when completing variable-laden problems, transpose + and -, and even despite knowing that 8-4 = 4, I will sometimes calculate mentally this as being 8-4=3 and think at the time that it makes perfect sense.
- I cannot visualize well inside my mind. It's like trying to write 257-63 on a beach with a fast moving current erasing the numbers while looking at them - or while trying to process the answer. I cannot visualize anything well inside my head, until I fall asleep.
- When trying to solve a problem that just yesterday I learned the concepts to, I hit a wall. Quite literally. Like a car traveling down a road, knowing that my destination is somewhere i went only yesterday, to find a big wall in the middle of the road. Only that road seems like it's in the middle of my brain. The description of the left intraparietal sulcus not working, well, it seems to fit the analogy of my thought process running into a wall quite nicely. And i've had the analogy since age 14.
- I still don't know my lefts and rights well, and I'm left handed. I still need to make a L with my left hand sometimes to know what direction I need to take when someone says "Go left". I have to tell them to tell me another directional-based cue, such as "turn towards the gas station" sometimes.
- Directionally challenged too, not just towards lefts or rights, but just general spacial challenges. Sports was a NIGHTMARE for me in school. My brain couldn't process where the ball was, and what i was supposed to do with it, whom I was supposed to pass to, throw to, hold onto it, etc. Hence the reason I was in clubs in high school.
- Numbers in a sentence take more than twice as long for me to process. Not necessarily numbers like 348, but 12,689 or one thousand three hundred twenty two...it's like trying to translate a japanese word into English while trying to read the rest of the sentence in English. It's a halting process, and since i'm a very fast reader, it trips me up.
-Never quite learned the number keypad on a keyboard. Top or side one. I've gotten better at the side one, but the top one still gets me.
- I'm musically okay, I can play the hammered dulcimer but was never great at Piano...until after playing the hammered dulcimer. Then it got better for some reason. I cannot play a guitar (Nor Guitar Hero even) as I cannot see my fingers, I do not know where they are spacially in regards to other things I need to press. Hence, hammered dulcimer works great for me. Two keys at once, two hammers, two hands, two eyes. Perfect. Piano is much harder but I can still play it basically.
- Sight reading music- I can do it, but it falls under the same concept as reading a written number...it's slow, it trips me up, and I have to do things one...note...at....a....time. Despite having known the scales for years, professional lessons, junior high, high school choirs, etc. I do WAY better by hearing and repeating than I do by sight-reading.
- While i got addition and subtraction and most multiplication okay (as long as it was on paper or calculator), division has been my arch nemesis for a long time. For the most part, I was OK until Fractions. Since at it's essence a fraction is a divisive process, to this day I still don't remember how to add, multiply, divide, or subtract fractions very well. My poor tutor has to keep reminding me how to do these simple basic things. However, I remembered the FOIL process and PEMDAS process from junior high. Ugh.
-Poor name/face retrieval. I remember faces and SITUATIONS, not necessarily together. Situations I remember the absolute best. I won't learn someone's name/face for up to a week, and not for months if I don't work directly with them. I hope I never have to give a facial description of a criminal or suspect. I can't do it - I don't keep a memory for faces, I cannot describe someone's face in the slightest, and even thinking of my coworkers today, I can only tell you their General characteristics - hair color, height, body type, sex, age approximation, etc.
- I still have trouble reading hand-clocks. I love clocks, I have quite a few, including watches. But it takes me about 5x as long to process the Minutes hand, and the Hour hand, about 3x as long as a normal person.
And the best part:
My short term and long term memory are very inconsistant. I lose words constantly, especially names and descriptions of things. I also do not remember what I did last week, unless something "situational" happened. Something different. I don't remember where I drove to two months ago for a two-week-long painting job, I don't remember who told me to make a side stack of items at work two days ago, I don't remember when and who I talked to about a customer concern only a week prior, etc. Most people remember their pasts. I barely remember growing up. I only remember bits and pieces of every year, some years fading completely away, example: I'm not sure what I did, if anything, in 2003.
I'm positive Dyscalculia fits most, if not all, of these things. The only things I do well at that others with Dyscalculia sometimes do not, is that I remember geographic locations on a map very well. From a map point of view. Also I am relatively good at Sudoku puzzles (but not other strategic games like chess). I rarely lose things. I am okay with money and credit (but I don't balance checkbooks, I just keep an eye on it from online). I loved science, even when it starts getting technical a bit (quantum physics interests me). That's about it. Other than that, the positives I fit is that I speak 3 languages, write and read rapidly, can keep up with a logical conversation, am great in creative uses for items (but i can't draw a thing, horrible in art), love to sing, and love to drive manual transmission cars.
As I was reading your post, I felt what you'd meant when you said you were 'afraid of us' because you saw yourself in us. Yes, your description of the way that numbers disappear as though they were on a beach with a fast moving current made me feel a little breathless, because I want to immediately interrupt you (difficult to do when it's a forum post that I'm reading) and I wanted to tell you how they disappear for ME. I've used the illustration before that it's as if I have before me an Olympic sized swimming pool. And with a giant Turkey baster filled with blue food coloring, I write perhaps three numbers out there in the middle of the water of the swimming pool. Within seconds the form of the numbers has blurred so that they are no longer legible. This has been my illustration for about a year, ever since I found out about dyscalculia.
I have the name/face thing. But mine has a slight twist. If I make a conscious effort to remember the characteristics of the face, I can. But this is because I give myself a verbal reinforcement of those facial features. And I'll remember the 'disposition' that goes with the face, although I can't remember the name. I know if this is a warm, caring person. Or I'll remember that this other person has a tendency to 'diminish' whatever I say, although I won't remember the name, or even where we've met before.
I'm just fine with my 'rights' and 'lefts'. I was volleyball team captain in Junior High, but I don't like 'contact sports', because of the way everything 'moves around' in every direction. I love languages. Spanish is my second language. I'm a deaf interpreter. And I have a start on a few others. I knew FOIL and PEMDAS. PEMDAS I can still remember how to do, but FOIL now looks more like a kitten with a ball of yarn. I can draw quite well, and plan to begin a Fine Arts degree in the Fall.
I'm so glad that you've posted. Thanks for sharing. - jus'
Edited by justfoundout on May 23 2009 12:08 AM
well, cacille, my lefts and rights are difficult too, I use my right hand <which is my dominant hand> to tell them apart often. Mostly I point. I use visual landmarks when driving and can't tell someone how to get to the house <like a shuttle from vehicle dealerships taking me home while our car gets fixed> by using street names or directions or anything - either my husband does it, or I have them look up on Mapquest or an actual map, or we just kinda fumble around with me using landmarks, cuz I do know the names of the major intersection it's by. I have spatial orientation difficulties and problems with oral processing. I miscalculate in general and sometimes do transpose numbers but that is not my biggest challenge.
I don't read non-digital clocks well at all and have never worn a watch. I did not learn how to tell time or count money til high school.
I don't know from music at all, love to read and write and love languages! I have a intuitive sense of direction while my husband <who I suspect for a variety of reasons has non-verbal LD> can't find anything unless it's on a map, gets lost in the mall and doesn't know how to get home from a restaurant we've been to a dozen times.
I think in pictures a lot of the time.
I am just amazed at all of you who have posted to me this entire time. I thank you for sharing your stories, and while it's been amazing and scary at the same time, your comments have been amazing. I've learned quite a lot in the short time I've been here so far! I have contacted a few places, and on Tuesday I am to call back one of the places so that way I can get started on the testing process. I was unaware that adults could be tested at all, until some of you posted that you got tested in college.
I am shocked though, that I went through a AAA graded public school system, and never once did anyone suspect that I had any math disorder. I guess it was because I do have some ability to do the math, just remembering it was the problem. I also think my homework probably helped me get through the tests and quizzes without raising any question marks. My 10-year high school reunion is next year, and I think that one thing I will be doing is "educating" the math teachers to look for kids like me who seem to work hard at math, yet still struggle at it.
What I am fascinated by, is the fact that we are all so good at languages. It's funny, Jus, you say you are a deaf interpreter. One of the languages I learned to speak was Sign Language. The other is German - and apparently one of the newest people to this board is also a German speaker. I wanted to be a Sign Language interpreter, but the only college to teach it was too far away. I also love German and would love to continue learning it. I find it Really funny that even our LIKES are the same! Holy COW!
I am now curious as to how many dyscalculics are in the linguistics fields. Myself, I would love to be into that (And i'd move in order to do that!) but I chose a more creative route, house painting. Color coordination is my favorite, along with application of the more specialty paints. I also work at a local Lowe's in their Paint department where I get to do color coordination all day long. Would I love to do this forever though? No. I have no idea what I'd love to do day-in day-out. I love what I do Now, and that's all that matters, but I'm definitely getting tired of the non-challenge. I'd love to find something else, and I'm looking for the next challenge, but having no skills in math and what can be described as personality quirks, well, it gets hard to convince people that you are able to do all of the aspects of a job.
Have to run for now! I'll let you all know how the testing goes!
I was an Immigration Court Interpreter (Contract Labor) for a few months. And I worked briefly at a community college as a Sign Language Interpreter. However, I'd never taken a college class for either Spanish or Sign Language. I hope that I'll get to do that sometime, as I have much room for improvement.
On the subject of 'no one noticing' our math problems,... as I had been about to fail Elementary Algebra for the third time, I'd gone to the Counseling Office, waited a long time to speak to a Counselor, and asked him if he knew any way that I could pass College Algebra. With an empty, far-away look, he said, "No." And then, with me still standing there, looking at him intently, he looked past me, and asked, "Is there someone else that I can help?" I know how you feel. They just really don't notice. And he was the Dean of Disability Counselors! I found out about dyscalculia from a job-seeker who called into the law firm where I was the receptionist a few months later. - jus'
Edited by justfoundout on May 23 2009 12:21 AM
I am currently re-learning ASL - used to know a lot more when working with kids Deaf. I took a class in PSE in college-taught by hearing man - and have been re-learning w/aid of Deaf woman locally. Hubby severe HOH, raised oral, w/bilateral BTE aids. I have a new hearing loss. I majored in Spanish in college and actually took it all through middle and high school prior to college actually. I also know a bit of Yiddish and a teeny - teeny - bit of Hebrew <am Jewish>