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Am I just my Disorder?
#1 Print Post
Posted on April 14 2011 10:48 PM
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I have been doing more and more research into the neurophychology behind Dyscalculia..
my latest post here


Now the more i do.. the more unsettled i become regarding what I uncover.

This latest post uncovers many new symptoms *listed below* previously unknown to me.
Now the thing is that some of these "symptoms" were what i just considered to be my personality quirks.. quirks that i have come to accept as being a part of my identity.
eg. like having bad days..
I have long since accepted that i had "off days.. or bad days" at simple routine things. I kind of joked and made a rule about how i shouldn't be doing this because it was an "off day".. *like when i used to Rollerblade to work.. within 2 blocks from my house.. i would know if i was going to kill myself on my blades because it was an off day.. and i would turn around and go home to take the bus instead.*

Others blatantly wounded me, as although they explained issues i have always experienced.. seeing it proclaimed as an inability that can never be overcome smacked me in the face.
I believe what anybody does and can indeed accomplish, is based on personal power.. and some of these "symptoms" completely rip that away form me.
ie. the first "symptom" listed explained why i seem to always have to try so much harder at learning and doing something new.. and how if my practicing in this skill is interrupted or lags.. I'd loose ground on that skill.
And sure... great.. it's now a symptom of my disorder.. and i can identify it.. but it almost makes me feel like just giving up!.. because i can never really be proficient in something.. or have my skill become a part of who i am...
If no matter how much effort or discipline i assign to a skill.. if it's left alone.. i then loose it.?! wtf is the point?!

I feel like all the invested time i have put into things has been wasted..
And what i thought was my identity quirk is really just my disability manifesting itself. So i am then not who i thought.. or believe i am.. I identify myself as my disability.. I am my disability?! *Screw with.. my... Brain!*

I'm not tweaking or freaking on this.. I've just been reflecting on this for a couple weeks and it's really beginning to slowly piss me off.

I now feel like I can actually see the box that I have felt like i have been trapped in for so long.. but now.... I CAN SEE! THE DAMN BOX I'M TRAPPED IN!!

thoughts? experience?.. advice?

Symptoms of Dyscalculia

* problems becoming fluent in a new skill to the point where it becomes automatic, for example reading, writing and driving a car

* taking longer than other students to complete tasks

* organising work and other aspects of their lives

* a poor sense of passage of time, mixing up dates, times and appointments

* poor short-term memory for carrying out instructions or copying from the board and remembering what has just been read and/or said

* retrieving words when speaking and mispronunciations caused by motor problems or difficulties in discriminating sounds

* directional confusions, getting easily lost , having problems using maps or finding their way to a new place

* poor motor control resulting in a range of difficulties including handwriting, inaccurate reading and spelling

* retaining the visual image of words, signs, symbols, formulae, musical notation

* reading text due to visual distortions such as blurring or moving letters

* comprehension, despite appearing to read fluently

* sequencing letters in spelling, or numbers and signs in maths, difficulties using dictionaries, encyclopaedias and directories, remembering phone numbers and dialling them accurately

* sequencing, such as instructions and mathematical procedures, sequencing of numbers or letters and difficulties taking messages

* attention span and concentration

* particular susceptibility to stress, which may be associated with deadlines or examinations

* noticeable inconsistency between what can be achieved on “good” and “bad” days.

Edited by EarlyWarning on April 14 2011 11:22 PM
You May not Live, But you will Die.
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Posted on April 15 2011 05:16 PM
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You May not Live, But you will Die.
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Posted on May 07 2011 02:43 AM

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That is a great post. It brings up some interesting philosophical issues about dyscalculia, and "disabilities" in general.

Once "not so good at math" becomes "dyscalculia," I think it's really easy to start seeing symptoms everywhere, in everything we do, in who we are, until you get to that ultimate question you asked: Am I just my disorder?

Being bad at figuring out tips used to be "I'm a little slow at this," now it's "I'm dyscalculic."
Having trouble following multiple steps in sequence used to be "Let me check that list again," now it's "I'm dyscalculic."
Not being able to remember phone numbers used to be "I'm a little forgetful," now it's "I'm dyscalculic."
Not being able to read time used to be "I prefer digital clocks," now it's "I'm dyscalculic."
The list goes on and on.

But what is dyscalculia, really? Maybe it IS just a collection of quirky personality traits. Maybe it's "dyscalculia" just because someone gathered them up into a list and gave it a name. If we lived hundreds of years ago, when people bartered instead of buying and created things from scratch without uniform systems of measure and lived by the sun and moon instead of clocks and no one on the planet had ever heard of a PIN number, would we have had a disability? Maybe we're just misfits in the modern world, where everything has a monetary/numerical value, everyone runs on a global time scheme, and our very existence to many entities (banks, government, etc.) is nothing more than a number. Maybe it's not a disability or disorder at all, but just a different way of thinking that's out of step with what's "expected" in the day and age of widely adopted Arabic numerals and the reduction of so many things to a numerical code.

No matter how you see dyscalculia, the "box" you find yourself in is what you make of it. I suck at math, so what? So I don't do algebra for a living. So I look at the digital clock, not the analog one. So I use a tip calculator on my phone. So I check that sequence list again, 'cause I know I'm not getting it on the first try. So I have clumsy days. So what -- that's just who I am. The label affixed to it makes no difference.

You will be the disability as much as you choose to. No one can do everything -- short kids who love basketball will never be in the NBA, those with poor vision will never be fighter pilots, people with low IQs will never be academics. We're no different just because our limitations come with a particular label. We may not be rocket scientists 'cause we'd screw up the launch code, but that doesn't mean we can't blast our way through this world in our own, amazing, quirky, wonderful way.

Edited by Henevere on May 07 2011 03:02 AM
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Posted on May 07 2011 01:45 PM
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If you let yourself be defined by it, then you will be. Life is 90% perception, the other 10% is reality. We take the 10% that is reality and use our minds to create the other 90%. So the 10% truth is that here and there you have "off days" that are characterized by having difficulty doing pretty much everything... those days where by the end of the day you feel like you can do NOTHING right and you might as well just lay down, pull the covers over your head, and wait until tomorrow when you're having an "on" day again.

There's the 10%, the reality, the "this is what happened" fact. So the other 90% of it is how you interpret that. Doesn't EVERYONE on the ENTIRE planet have off days? Yes! Of course they do. It's a universal experience, that's why everyone understands what you mean when you describe it. It doesn't mean the whole world has dyscalculia, or that those off days can even be attributed to it. But if that's what you do in your mind, if you make it so that there is a direct correlation between having dyscalculia and having an off day, then that's your perception of reality, that's your 90%, that's your life.

Where did you read that list of symptoms anyway? You have to take certain things with a grain of salt. All of those things might have been written down by someone who is an "expert" on dyscalculia because they have it, not because they study it. I put expert in quotes because the only experts who are reliable sources of information are the people who spend their lives empirically and rigorously studying this disorder. They are the ones whose information you should trust, not some person on the internet.

Investigate your sources, look for what we call "primary sources." In school we learned about primary and secondary sources. A primary source is where the information originally comes from - a secondary source is a compilation of information from primary sources. For example, a scientific study performed in a lab would be a primary source. An article in a magazine ABOUT that study would be a secondary source. And a person writing on a website about various articles they've read, plus their own subjective experience (not science), isn't a reliable source at all. If you want real facts, go to the primary sources, or thoroughly investigate your secondary sources to make sure they're solid.

A lot of those things that you've written down as "symptoms of dyscalculia" are actually, in fact, symptoms of the human experience. They are "symptoms" of being human, they are things that we all experience, some of us on a rather frequent basis, and not because we have a learning disability but because we are fast-paced people living in a fast-paced world. Not everyone with dyscalculia has motor problems, attention problems, reading comprehension problems, issues with music (there are a LOT of musicians on this forum, I think you'll notice), susceptibility to stress more than the average person, etc. Those aren't core symptoms, those might be some things that some people deal with in addition to dyscalculia, but they are also things that the GENERAL POPULATION deals with too, probably at similar rates. They aren't core to the disorder, so you shouldn't define yourself by them.

Some of the things I see on that list are true symptoms of dyscalculia, they are backed up by the science I've read, but a lot of those things sound to me like they are more based off of someone else's subjective experience and less off of actual science. Don't let someone else's experience with dyscalculia define what you think you can or can't do. Hell, don't even let the "official" symptoms of dyscalculia tell you what you can and can't do.

Everybody has something that makes life more difficult for them, whether it's dyscalculia or mental illness or physical disability or socioeconomic status, whatever it is, everyone has something. If we all defined our perception of ourselves and our lives by that, if we all lived our 90% in that mental state of "this is what's holding me back", then NOBODY would ever get ANYWHERE. Period. You decide where you live your 90%, whether it's defined by the things that hold you back, or the things that push you forward.
"The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings." - Eric Hoffer
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Posted on May 08 2011 12:13 AM

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Henevere, please forgive me for forgetting this. You've probably already told us in one of your first posts. Did you get your testing done and were you given the Mathematics Disorder diagnosis? On another Thread, eoffg and Dr. David Mills have recently posted about the new DSM V and the definition of dyscalculia. I don't know if you, Kat, and you, Early Warning, had noticed that Thread. - jus'
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Posted on May 08 2011 02:01 PM

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EarlyWarning, I want you to know that you are COMPLETELY unique in everything you do. Yes you have dyscalculia, but you are sooo much more than that. Keep in mind that the doctors and professors who 'discovered' those symptoms are not dyscalculic they have no idea what its like for us. They are not god, they don't know evrything. You are who you believe you are inside. You can accomplish great things with hard work, no one can stop you but you. You are not an LD with legs. You are a person, a human being with dyscalculia standing on your own two feet.
Equations are the devil's sentences. -Stephen Colbert
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Posted on May 09 2011 02:51 PM
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Thankyou to everyone for your responses..

Special thank to Henevere.
I was very disappointed that i wasn't getting any feedback on my post, but i was happy to have waited for your reply. Thankyou so much. Your response has truly helped me. I have change back my perspective to one of personal empowerment. I was getting overwhelmed in analyzing myself with what i was learning.

Anyway , Thank you for putting so much time, energy and thought into your post. You can add +1 to the "people better off for knowing you" category. Wink

You May not Live, But you will Die.
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Posted on May 10 2011 06:09 AM

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Thanks, EarlyWarning! That made my day. Grin
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Posted on May 10 2011 06:00 PM

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I agree with Henevere.
While we all have to adapt to our UNIQUE conditions, we are not our conditions. It's the ego's trick that we identify with our jobs, nationality, status, etc; however that is what we do, not what we are.
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Posted on May 10 2011 08:26 PM
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I'm starting the same struggle. Some of the stuff I thought were just "personality quirks" are actually related to some of my disabilities. Today, I've been asking myself, am I really just quirky, or is it just my disability? I know there are some unique things that are not defined by my disability, such as my music, but so many other things... Maybe it will make more sense later, when the newness of my diagnosis wears off?
I'm NOT lost, I'm just taking the scenic rout!
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Posted on May 17 2011 11:46 PM

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I think it does fade a little with time -- it can be overwhelming at first to see "dyscalculia" in everything.
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