Julie Miller's Mental Health Blog

“L” is for Learning Disability

Posted on: May 4, 2010

Learning disabilities (LD) come in a great many flavors.  I have a good friend who has a mathematics disorder.  I have a bit of ADD.  For individuals with more than one form of a learning disability, and perhaps more severe than the “bit” I have, the LD(s) can have a tremendous impact on one’s life.

My good friend with the mathematics disability has been impacted by more than just having trouble calculating a tip at a restaurant, although that was a problem for a long time.  The mathematics issue is also a “spatial” issue, difficulty perceiving spatial relationships, seeing things in the mind’s eye as 3D, navigating space itself (clumsiness).  For this woman, this undiagnosed LD led her through years of belief that she was stupid.  Schools missed the problem.  Parents missed the problem.  Only when she decided to take classes as a 50-year old that required more math and spatial processing, and when someone finally said to her, “you should get tested for LD,” did she discover something she’s had all her life that has kept her from believing in herself – LD.

I observed this woman go through a painful grieving process, letting go of the hope of being able to study the subjects she was drawn to, but had not pursued until age 50.  Her aspirations were gone in a moment, taken from hope about achieving her goals to absolute certainty that she could not.

Fortunately, she has the resilience to allow herself to grieve, and to continue to be curious about what she might be able to study and pursue as a new career field.  While she does not yet know the answers, she is managing to stay in the question and navigate her feelings without despairing or collapsing.

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