Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fine. I Might Have a Quirk or 7 :#4

#4:  I have a learning disability

I do have a learning disability and it impacts my life daily.  Sometimes it's a subtle little annoyance; sometimes it really stinks.  The learning disability manifests itself as an inability to do math and to organize and in some other ways.  It's not that I am afraid of math or have had a bad experience.  My brain simply struggles and usually can't "get" math.

It must have been second or third grade when our teacher first brought out the wooden pies to teach us about fractions.  I was completely and totally lost.  I assumed everyone else was, too, but it was only me.  That day is as clear in my memory as any other life-changing experience.   For the first time in my life, I knew I was dumb.

I would have gone through life believing that, too, if it hadn't been for my mom who was earning a master's degree in psychology/guidance and counseling.  At the time (the 1960's) learning disabilities were newly "discovered" and the research wasn't always accepted by teachers.  There were still more teachers who believed that a student simply needed to try harder.   But my mom tested me and had me tested by other professionals and there it was:  the reason I couldn't do math, couldn't do puzzles, couldn't organize things, et cetera.  It also explained why when I needed to throw a ball, I didn't know which hand to use - not because I was ambidextrous, but because neither arm was a dominant/strong side.

My mom became my greatest advocate.  And when through the next many, many years we met an obstacle, she was right there finding a path around it.  She never used the LD as an excuse for me, but always as a basis of understanding.   She worked with me academically all the way through and she helped me to create patterns in my brain so that  I could get through course material.  Baby steps is more than a movie quote for me.  It is how I've lived sometimes.

Checkered has taken up the cause since we've married.  He shoulders anything having to do with numbers in this house from  orgainizing and list-making to bill-paying to helping our children with their math homework.  He even sits next to me at the end of every semester and plugs in all my students' grades and tells me what their final percentage is.

The learning disability is real, but  I've learned lots of coping skills and function pretty well.   I believe it all has made me a stronger teacher and a more compassionate human.   I will be forever grateful for my mom and her life-changing love and her understanding that something WAS wrong and her determination that the LD would not be a stop sign, but that it would simply be a bit of a detour.  And then there's Checkered.  Wow!  I've surely been blessed :)


Laura ~Peach~ said...

what a cool mom! we did not know until I was grown that i have mild dyslexia... I learned ever so young how to adapt to read ... I guess the desire to read and escape was greater than the disability... I can not image what my life would have been like had my dad not had the same issues I did and could teach me how to adapt.
Its funny I look more like my adoptive mother than my biological mother... and I have many of the same issues as my adoptive father :) Checkered is a good fella :)
love n hugs Laura

Mental P Mama said...

You were indeed lucky. So many people suffer needlessly.

Keeper Of All Things said...

Your lucky to have great family support....then and now!!

Big Hair Envy said...

Most people are lucky to have ONE person in their life who is so devoted. You have been blessed with TWO!

Moms are the best:)

Karen said...

Your mom is my new hero. I want to be like her.

Pleasing Procrasinator said...

How wonderful to have such support from your mom AND husband. You have been blessed!!

Mrs4444 said...

I'm certain you're a better teacher because of your disability. Most of my LD students prefer to pretend they don't have a disability (normal for Middle School, certainly), but I tell them what I know; people who embrace their disabilities, rather than pretend they aren't there, are MUCH more successful in life. Bravo! And Bravo to Checkered, too!

Grandma Tillie's Bakery said...

How awesome your Mom saw things the way she did. My dad falls into the category of people that think you just aren't trying hard enough. Your husband sounds like a real gem--you are indeed blessed.

Anonymous said...

Awesome mom you had, and bravo to you for hangin in there! I had math trauma at the blackboard in 4th grade due to long division, but somehow survived all these years! I am sure that you are a very good teacher. :) Mrs. 4444's sis!

DonnaMarie511 said...

Hi Dr. L. - How have you been? I really loved this post of yours, because I personally know how wonderful of an English Professor you truly are. Yes, anyone who reads my post, Dr. L. has been my English Professor, and it was a wonderful experience.

It took me a bit, but I finally located that e-mail that you sent me with the link to your blog. I guess it helps when you clean up the mail in the inbox as well as the mail at home...LOL

Please give your mom a personal thank you from me for getting you through your education so that I could have the opportunity of experiencing you as my professor!!