MEMORIES OF SCHOOL WITH LEARNING DISORDERS

 


I’m 61. When I was younger, learning disabilities did NOT exist, by name anyway.

I have been blessed with many talents, some as a result of Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) and Attention Deficient Disorder (ADD), some not. I’m a very positive person, fun to be around, have a great sense of humor, love storytelling and writing,(like this website of  writing about learning disorders to supplement my retirement), all probably to deflect focus on my learning disorders. As a child and young adult, I was always disorganized, forgetful and had trouble keeping focus on a task. However, I was also very eager to please, was humorous, upbeat and caring. I feel that these positive ADD qualities helped my teachers, peers and parents in disregard my so called “weaknesses.”

I was capable of great things “if only she had applied herself”, a direct quote from my teacher in elementary school. My parents were very concerned that I wasn’t getting a good education because my grades were not reflecting that I was. My grades, however, ranged from bad to awful.

So, mid year in third grade my sisters and I transferred to another school. Not just any school, Catholic School where my sisters and I were the only Protestants there, awkward! Not only was it hard to leave familiar surroundings and friends but to be put mid-year into an environment that put focus directly on us as “new kids” “non-Catholic”, “from the wrong side of town”. I cried by the end of the first day because everything was so unfamiliar.

The reason we went to this private school was to get out of the public-school system back in the sixties. I felt uncertain, uncomfortable, in an awkward and unexplored situation of a new school and new religion. Catholic is exceedingly different from my Methodist upbringing. Well, as you may guess, we converted Catholic well, tuition was less. If you were Catholic attending Catholic Church, you also attended Catholic School at a reduced rate. Within a year, our family were “converted Catholics”.

I want to blame my first year’s bad grades on the transition to a new environment of church and school. My sister was held back, but because of my size (chubby big girl) I proceeded to the next grade and caught up with the advance curriculum. St. Mary’s was doing multiplication tables in third grade and I hadn’t even heard of those tables.

However, with time the social aspect became comfortable and easy for me because I was fun to be around, a nice, sweet gal and had a good sense of humor. I possess the ability to laugh at myself, which makes life seem bearable during difficult times.

My short-term memory is a joke, especially for tests. Like I have said, my grades were average at best, but have also always struggled, especially in college but I persisted and even got a post graduate degree. I learn differently and finally figured out my learning style. Write, rewrite, and then rewrite again notes from class until I could comprehend, understand, and then answer questions on written exams. However, to verbal answer questions was a weakness. I needed a trigger to retrieve the answers.

I can remember my Mom always saying “you are not listening” when really, I did not process quickly to what I was hearing. So, my comeback now would be “I’m listening, I’m just not processing”.  Taking time to think something through was a sign that you were not listening.

Later while dealing with my daughter’s school problems, I recognized she had a distraction issue, it was established the she had ADD. Now, schools have special adaptions for learning disorders that helped her to take test and medication is helpful. I now think back and recognize my mother having similar ADD and Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) characteristics and that this family gene thing started to become clear. Luckily, the means to the end worked out for me.

Thank you for checking in. Please leave a message or question. I’d love to hear your stories. Please go to ALL EARS to read my other posts like  THINGS ADULTS WITH AUDITORY PROCESSING DISORDER DO DIFFERENTLY.

Blessings,

Laura Lee

 

Quiet Time, What It Means To One With APD?

Does annoying background noise keep you from having a meaningful conversation with family and friends because of APD?

As I sit here at my home computer, the house is quiet, without noise except for the keys clicking on the keyboard. For one wrestling with Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) easily distracted and background noise makes it hard to concentrate, focus and process. This quietness is perfect.

This entire scenario is not typical, but I do love the quiet, it seems the words and my thoughts flow flawlessly on paper but not in a conversation.

However, the quiet will soon be interrupted, with background noises; TV (high volume does not help), noise from the washer and dryer, conversations (again, speaking LOUDER is not better), phone rings, text dings, music coming from a different room, and noticeable it is all noisy.

The distractions remind me of the moment I had when my Psych explained what I was struggling with was real learning disorders, APD, and ADD, but that is only a label. I learned about it so I could educate my “circle” how they could help me. Noise can cause irritability and anxiety, which can damage relationships and interfere with your sex life. Of course, something is always to blame for interfering with your sex life besides the ex. Oh my, let’s don’t go there!

Let’s get back to my true story. This post is not really about the quiet, but the annoyance of not being able to apprehend the sounds to recognize words in sentences. It is overwhelming and always aggravating to be struggling to determine words, language, or ideas; just, conversation. If I am face to face with you, I can focus and process well if there is no background noise. If not intentionally face to face with you, I only process the last part of a sentence, the first of a sentence is like a mumble.

I’ve accused my husband of mumbling way too many times, and I am sorry for that. Remarks might come through with certain words drowned out by other noises. I then try to determine the message one is trying to communicate  with what I hear of the message.

I wish I could have JUST ONE DAY without asking any one to repeat what they said. Huh? What? Pardon? Or replying with something that shows I entirely misunderstood the message. It is so much like having hearing loss, but I can hear, I’m deaf to certain sounds. Crazy, yeah? There is not a darn thing I can do about it. There are no devices available for this; a hearing aid doesn’t stimulate processing; it just makes it louder.

Have you ever been in a bar or restaurant so noisy that you made yourself hoarse trying to talk loudly enough to be heard? Maybe you gave up on having a meaningful conversation altogether? Maybe you even ended up drinking more than you intended to because it was too noisy to converse. All of these are side effects of noise, and noise is a side effect of annoyance.

Well, noisy people and places annoy me. I find when several conversations are occurring at once, I can’t process any of them, who freakin’ cares besides me?

We all have struggles, and yep I have a learning disorder (or two), anxiety, got pushed out of a job after 25 years, whined to my Psych, and after sulking for five years, I’m moving on. But I get it, won’t forget it, and want to share it.

Sharing with others is essential; everyone has something going on; it’s called “life experiences”.  I have life experiences; I hid them all for a long time, now I want to share them all. My job was my identity, I was emotionally attached to it, and I lost it. I am not the Big Pharma sales representative any longer, but I am a person who worked for a Big Pharma company for 25 years and learned a lot of transferrable skills.

I have accepted that I hear and learn differently, I am living with it, but instead of “that” being me, I am me with “that” as frustrating as that is. A funny part of my story is as I explain I have learning disorders and what they are, it seems that to most I talk to recognize it, and they also have it! Hum. So maybe I’m not so freakin’ different?

The easiest, quickest way to communicate is merely to say something (for me I add a shock factor) and then the other person replies, right? Right, unless the listener has APD, then the remarks come through with certain words drowned out by other noises. Most people aren’t familiar with APD and are much more likely to wonder if I am just not listening, not very intelligent or don’t freaking care about the conversation (usually the latter). I am missing out on so much.

It seems I get essential messages wrong, forgetful, and have problems following instructions, sequencing, losing parts of directions, instructions or recipes, and lengthy explanations. Do I hear an “Amen”?

What do you tell your employer to keep this from becoming another one of those jobs where you quit or if you are lucky enough to retire before they can fire you? Disclose it or not, now or later? It happened to me; performance evaluations pointing out inadequate performances (by their new standards and the introduction of computers), pushed me to disclose my learning disorders, with accommodations (for a medical sales representative) provided to my employer.

TAKING NOTES

My accommodations require I take time to make notes and to write essential information down, have reminders put in a memo or email, create a specific adjustment to my schedule was created. I use index cards to trigger the points I present and quiet places for preparations. None of this went over well, but Big Pharma played along shortly.

Sometimes I need quiet time, an absence of background noise and distractions? If the employer will comply with reasonable accommodations, it sounds good on paper but it is not practical in the real world. The noise is present, and my focus is not.

I find it is common in the pharmaceutical industry for older employees (what? I was 52) get pushed out for younger, less expensive employees. I guess being a seasoned representative with 25 years of experience and relationships which takes years to develop didn’t freakin’ matter in the end.

IN CONCLUSION, THE  Bottom Line: Stress, Anxiety, and fear!

A smarter person than I said, “I hadn’t noticed that I had a hearing problem. I just thought most people had given up on speaking clearly.” Touché

Do you fear to explain the gap in your work history? Sign up for a class, start a blog, start your own business (potentially an online marketing business). It’s all so clear to me now. Working from home, on your computer, on your schedule and collectively learn how to make money working with Affiliate Programs, there are thousands of them and millions of products. 

So, you also find yourself in a wave of anxiety and embarrassment denying your family because you are unemployed, fired, retired, disabled, can’t make ends meet, or just want to supplement your income. I know, me too! However, I learned making money does not have to be brick and mortar, working for someone else, dealing with bosses, or dealing with long travel times. Just the opposite!

I found out how to supplement my retirement; writing which I enjoy, and helping others that have felt the emotions I felt while jobless before I found Wealthy Affiliate.

Please leave a comment on your personal experiences, helpful tips, and resources or other topics you would like to read.

Peace,

Laura Lee