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So while helping the students I tutor with their LD final notes today, the topic of dyscalculia came up. After we discussed it at length, it occurs me to how little people know about it. As someone with dyscalculia, here are my finer points:
- I cannot compute numbers in my head aside from what we memorize: 2+2=4 etc,. When I try, it’s literally like hitting a mental roadblock. I got nothing. Have to write it down or get a calculator. Formulas and mental calculations are OUT, unless you want me to get that glazed look and start getting shifty.
- Time is dicey. I cannot mentally determine how much time it’s going to take to get somewhere, do something, or how much time has passed. I’m either late or early – RARELY on time. This is also why when someone asks my age, I typically can’t remember. I’m usually off by a year. I also have a hard time determining when something happened, e.g, “was that four years ago or five?” I estimate everything. Also, I can read a regular watch, but it takes me a few minutes to figure it out. I wear a watch, so when someone asks me the time, I usually just show it to them. Evasive measures.
- Distance is also tricky. I could not tell you if something is [this many] yards, feet, or miles.
- I cannot read a map, will never be able to accurately tell you which direction we are facing, and will probably try to fake it. If it weren’t for the scar on the top of my left hand, I’d have to think really hard about left from right.
- I can’t give change, and if you try to give me change, I will take your word for it. I rarely use cash for this reason, because you could rip me off blind. This is also why my finances are a freaking mess half the time.
- I suck at names. I will remember your face forever, but probably not your name. I also have a tendency to think I know your name, and decide that is your name, and will make it your name for as long as I live. I’m usually close, though. I’ll get the first letter right about 80% of the time. I have renamed my BFF’s entire family because at some point I decided my made-up names were their names. Her brother’s name is Spencer. I thought it was Jamie. After ten years, he signs everything to me as Jamie now because he’s given up trying to train me otherwise.
- Light and noise sensitivity. That one is weird. I can’t explain it. The “experts” tell me it is typical, but it makes NO sense. I tell people I wear my sunglasses all the time because I’m so cool the sun shines on me 24/7.
- In addition, I get the added component of being completely hyper, and often hyperfocused. Boyfriends love it when they sit there and talk to me for a half an hour and I haven’t heard a word. You can insert the Forever Alone dude right here.
So there you have it. Dyscalculia in nutshell. Most people who have dyscalulia have some or all of these. It’s frustrating, and unless you feel like going through that whole list and taking the time to explain it all, I just find that people are much more accepting if I tell them I am adorably quirky or just plain flighty. 🙂
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